Sunita (not her real name) took herself on a journey during a time of transition in her youthful career path. She had a degree and an interest in art; as well as the ‘order’ of archives and records.
Hard to know where to turn when direction changes, Sunita chose to make art at Vincents Art Workshop and volunteer as an Administration Assistant with Volunteer Wellington. As she began her regular shifts a couple of years ago (at the time of this interview) she began to see her experience as a ‘natural progression’. The role involved greeting people, creating a welcoming environment and communicating on a number of levels.
‘I specifically rang volunteer seekers who were looking for a way to engage with the community and build skills – often they were Work and Income clients who felt despondent about rejection and losing confidence and motivation.
Her term ‘natural progression’ made more and more sense. ‘After the interview process and people had taken on a volunteer placement I would ring again and find out how they were going. This is called the follow-up stage. It was exciting when I found that they were developing new skills and that different sorts of work with any one of Volunteer Wellington’s 400+ community organisations was leading them in directions where paid work was often an outcome.’
Week by week Sunita’s confidence was growing. At first quiet and reserved her task to ‘draw people out’ and offer support and encouragement as their own journeys’ progressed, meant that a series of signposts were beginning to evolve for her also. She witnessed exhilaration when someone could say ‘I had a great time with Scouting New Zealand – now I’ve jumped into a great job with hospitality.’
Sometimes people were depressed and anxious. They had missed out on the hoped for position but they were keeping on keeping on.
‘That’s what it’s been like here,’ she said. I’ve missed out on a couple of jobs but I’ve kept on coming here. It’s given me a pattern and something to be consistent about.’ There is now a resilience about this young woman with an Indian background. She is direct and has developed an inner strength which will stand her in good stead in the full-time work she was about to take on. Appropriate, she says, that I’m returning to the government agency I started out with some years ago. There seems to have been a natural progression. ‘That’s volunteering,’ she added with a grin.
From Pauline, Volunteer Wellington