Selfless workers

JAMES IRELAND
Last updated 05:00 27/12/2012
Frazer Dale and dogs
VOLUNTEER SPIRIT: Frazer Dale and his dogs Buddee and Felicity who he takes along to retirement homes as part of St John Outreach Therapy Pets.

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Volunteering is a selfless task that can bring huge rewards to the community, but what is it like for the volunteers themselves and how can many afford to do it?

Frazer Dale from Sunnyvale volunteers for six different organisations and has a full time job as an educator at the New Zealand Maritime Museum in the city.

"I'm away from home most evenings and most weekends. My wife will text me saying ‘Our house is the one with the white fence'," he says.

"It can be hard to juggle everything but in the end it is worth it. You have to be really good at time management and it can affect your home life."

Mr Dale volunteers with Camp Quality, a camp for children who have cancer.

"About eight years ago I met my wife there when she was also a volunteer. So it really has given me the best gift I have ever had," he says.

This month Mr Dale was awarded a Kiwibank Local Hero Medal for 2013 which he says is just the icing on the cake to a life packed full of daily rewards.

"You face emotional situations all the time. It's not so much that you have to develop a thick skin it's that you have to have empathy and try to understand the emotions and the reasons behind them.

"I think that's the toughest thing that people have to deal with when they work for organisations like Camp Quality or Canteen," he says.

Volunteering Auckland general manager Cheryll Martin says organisations which rely on volunteers need to move with the times.

"Nowadays people don't want to volunteer in the same way they used to.

"They need flexibility around the hours they work and they want the job to suit them," she says.

"Gone are the days when someone will be able to come in for a set time every week. They also have to look at which jobs are being done by volunteers and which ones are being done by paid employees.

"Some organisations actually flipped them and now have the paid staff doing the admin work and the volunteers doing the exciting hands-on stuff," she says.

Both Mr Dale and Ms Martin say the most important thing to consider is how much you can realistically do. Ms Martin says there has been a change in perspective from volunteers that has come about through young people being more knowledgeable about the world as a whole.

"In the past people just wanted to know how they were making a difference to their community. Now young people want to be able to actually see how their work is impacting on the wider scheme of things," she says.

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"They take a look at the world and want to know they have done something to make it a little better."

Go to volunteering auckland.org.nz or phone 377 7887 for more information on how you can get involved.

- Western Leader

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