Volunteers deserving of recognition — left to right: Linda Emmet, John Wade, Monty Stott, Anrie van den Berg, Jim Wallace, Alvyn Silver, Rosemary Wallace, Anne Hume, Almarie van den Berg, Dyna Blake

The volunteering spirit

by Andy Bryenton

They come from all walks of life and represent all ages. From a young lady in school uniform through to those in their retirement seeking to give something back to the community. Gathered around a table at Dargaville’s Norfolk Court Home and Hospital, they are a cross-section of the populous of this small Kiwi town. What they have in common, however, is something extraordinary.

These are the volunteers who regularly visit the residents here at Norfolk Court, taking time out from their own schedules to share their talents and their comradeship. Some read stories and poetry, and find that some of Norfolk Court’s residents finish famous phrases, or remember lines from their school days long ago. Others play music and sing, bringing a blend of old time classics, country music and songs from halfway around the world to entertain. The RSA sends a representative to speak to veterans who served our country in wartime.

A local lady comes to sit with the elderly residents and talk, just being a friend. Another brings art supplies so that there’s creativity and colour in these folks’ days.

Though they have many skills and abilities, all agree on two things. Firstly, that what they do brings quality of life to all their friends and neighbours who call Norfolk Court home.

Favourite songs are requested time and again; sometimes the right story, poem or tune can unlock a memory which was almost forgotten. Secondly, it’s rewarding, educational, revelatory to hear about the past, about lives which are often extraordinary and times which, here, live outside of history books. Norfolk Court owner and manager John Wade is impressed by the dedication and kindness of all the volunteers who come to call each week, helping add variety to an activity program which already includes road trips, music, games and crafts.

Both he and the residents salute the big-hearted spirit of each and every one of these ‘everyday heroes’, making life better for those in their elder years.