In the lead-up to the 2014 Volunteer Wellington Employee Volunteering Awards, we will share profiles of some of the six judges who are reviewing award nominations.

Introducing Liz Hampton…

Liz Hampton 2014

Please tell us about your involvement with volunteering

I’m involved in volunteering both personally and with my job. I’m the Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Manager at IBM New Zealand, and I look after our community programmes with not-for-profit organisations, universities and government agencies.

I’m also an active volunteer, and currently serve on the board of Literacy Aotearoa Wellington. I have also volunteered at Multicultural Learning and Support Services with some of my IBM colleagues, supporting refugee language students who are practising conversational English. And as a parent of four children, I’ve been an active parent supporter in educational activities such as field trips, netball team management and classroom reading programmes.

What are some of the ways that volunteers contribute to our local communities?

Business volunteers often contribute by providing their skills and expertise, as well as being part of a team that can help an organisation get a job done. Volunteers can also bring a new or fresh perspective into an organisation. Within IBM, we have an active employee volunteer community who volunteer their skills and time with schools and organisations including the Cancer Society, Refugee Services, SPCA, Age Concern and Citizens Advice Bureau.

What do you think volunteers gain from becoming involved?

For many volunteers from the business community, volunteering can provide a chance to do something completely different from the usual routine, make a difference, and feel positive about being part of a team. It can also be a great way to use your business skills within a different sector.

I’ll share the story of IBM volunteer Dave Kent, who is a services delivery executive for IBM in New Zealand. Dave’s delighted that he’s been able to apply his knowledge of cycling and mentoring as a volunteer at Bike Tec. Bike Tec was initially started to help young people build bikes from scrap parts so they could more easily get to a local youth centre. The idea has taken off! Now operating under the umbrella of the Youth Wise Trust (a not-for-profit dedicated to creating safe, drug- and alcohol-free places for young people) Bike Tec uses bicycles as the tools to help build confidence, promote positive experiences, emphasize recycle and reuse principles, and advance healthy activity and exercise.

Dave says he has never regretted getting involved in volunteer work. “It has enriched my life and made a difference to others”. Dave also volunteers at Mahora House Trust – an organization that provides an assisted landlord service for people living with mental illness, or for those who just need help with their lives. Dave has assisted Mahora House Trust as its risk and finance officer.

What are the benefits for community groups?

For community groups, the benefits of volunteer resources are also plentiful. Teams of volunteers can assist to get a project completed; skills from a volunteer can provide fresh insights and knowledge, and help an organisation advance on its goals and programme mission.

Why do you see these awards as important?

The awards program is an exciting new initiative by Volunteer Wellington that can help stimulate new ideas and creative ways of using volunteer skills to help grow our communities. It’s also a great way to tell the stories about the fabulous community partnerships and projects that are already underway.

What sorts of projects are you hoping to hear about from award entrants?

I’m privileged to be part of the judging panel. I’m looking forward to hearing about the entries, and looking for those projects that have that little bit of difference, that stand out as a new or particularly effective way of getting something done.

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