Free concert on offer for volunteers
'You've just got to do something for someone else'
A late-night epiphany on a Colombian beach could be the genesis for New Zealand's largest co-ordinated volunteer effort. Marc Greenhill reports.
Four hours work for free concert ticket? A no-brainer, right?
The four-strong team running The Concert, an eight-hour music and entertainment festival being held Christchurch's AMI Stadium on November 3, definitely think so.
The event is the brainchild of Student Volunteer Army founder Sam Johnson's offshoot organisation, the Volunteer Army Foundation, which aims to encourage young people to volunteer.
Only 10,000 tickets are available and they are exclusive to people who commit at least four hours of their time to volunteering in the city.
More than 13,500 volunteer hours and 150 projects have been registered so far.
Johnson said the initiative was aimed at more than just students and music enthusiasts.
"It's about all Christchurch people young at heart coming to this event. At the end of the day, it's a free event. You've just got to do something for someone else," he said.
"For me, it's as much about people in Christchurch doing something together. The music event is just the celebration."
His team of fulltime staff includes volunteer army original Jason Pemberton, project manager Selma Kafedzic and project co-ordinator Sarah Campagnolo.
Help is provided by more than 20 volunteer ambassadors.
Johnson and Pemberton were attending the World Summit for Youth Volunteering in Colombia in October when the idea was conceived.
They had been unsure how to build on the volunteer army's success after the February 2011 earthquake silt-shovelling efforts, and had a light-bulb moment during a late-night swim.
"We'd seen this enormous beast and momentum had grown, and it was just so positive," Pemberton said.
"It seemed like if no-one kept pushing it was just going to stop, so we thought, 'how can we make this continue and be really valuable in the future?'
"It just happened to be that it was 11 o'clock at night, it was pouring with rain and we were in the Caribbean Sea."
Kafedzic said taking part was a "no-brainer".
"If you just do some volunteering work, you get to go to this free concert."
Confirmed artists included Avalanche City, The Eastern, Hollie Smith and Dane Rumble.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has volunteered and the Crusaders and Phoenix football have signed on for projects.
Flight of the Conchords were unable to play but had made a video for the event.
Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan and television presenter Leigh Hart, both Cantabrians living outside the city, were involved also.
Campagnolo hoped The Concert could dispel the sense there was little to do in Christchurch. Projects were being held every weekend.
Volunteers could create a project or select a listed project from its website.
"We have projects every weekend. You can hang out with your friends, see a new part of the city and meet different people," she said.
The perception The Concert was for students only was the hardest to break, Campagnolo said.
"Breaking through that barrier is still a bit of a challenge but we are finally getting there now," she said.
"You don't have to be a completely altruistic, Mother Theresa-type figure to volunteer. You do actually get a lot of selfish benefits out of it and it's a lot of fun."
Visit theconcert.co.nz to volunteer.
- The Press