Celebrating student volunteers

Aquinas College students Nic Butler, Molly Thornton, Lilli Scott, Laura Saunders and Aileen Harwood.

This year Volunteering Bay of Plenty is acknowledging the valued contribution of student volunteers during Student Volunteer Week from May 1-7.

Volunteering Bay of Plenty general manager Theo Ursum says Student Volunteer Week is a valuable chance to recognise the large student volunteering population in New Zealand, and to encourage more students to get involved in volunteering.

“Throughout SVW, students, educational institutions, and volunteer­ involving organisations celebrate the critical impact student volunteers have within their communities.”

Theo says student volunteers are appreciated, mobilised, motivated and encouraged during this week.

“We also take this time to explore specific benefits and issues around being a student volunteer in NZ.

“Volunteering can provide a meaningful and enriching experience for student volunteers, and often provides valuable educational or work insights and opportunities.

“Some organisations may find that students continue to volunteer well beyond the initial investment; and that by investing in student volunteers, we’re investing in the future.”

Volunteer BOP is hosting its inaugural Student Volunteer Award Night on May 1 at Aquinas College Sports Centre in Pyes Pa from 4.30pm-6.30pm.

The night will celebrate and thank students who have volunteered to help not-for-profit organisations with their projects.

There will be guest speakers to talk about how building relationships with communities can help youth workers gain relevant skills, says Theo.

“Topics will include depression and anxiety among youth and anecdotal evidence will be presented to show how becoming a volunteer can help with overcoming these all too common mental health challenges.”

Theo says Aquinas College students have a great outlook on volunteering and how it can impact the community in a positive way.

Mikaere Smith from Aquinas College says Mother Teresa’s quote: “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love” is the AC Army’s mantra.

“Volunteering gives us an opportunity to be able to do these things. It generally comes at very little financial cost and allows us to share our gifts and talents with others so that we can use them to make someone’s life that little bit more.

“We are looking forward to showcasing youth volunteers because the effectiveness of any service organisation too often relies on the more experienced or seasoned members of our community and we’d like to help Volunteering BOP change and reshape this image and practice.

“Volunteering BOP does a fantastic job in bringing our community together bridging the generations and works hard at empowering our community, both the volunteers and the people being helped as well as its environmentally sustainable support for community projects.”

Volunteering BOP has opened the nominations to schools and non-for-profit clubs so people can vote for their favourite student volunteer.

Nomination categories include the Above and Beyond Student Volunteer Award, Illumination Student Volunteer of the Year Award, Innovative Student Volunteer of the Year Award, and the Rookie Student Volunteer of the Year Award. Nominations close Monday, April 17.

Theo says Volunteer BOP looks forward to seeing all of the student volunteers at the awards and hopes this will become a yearly event. “It’s very important to showcase projects the youth have been working on.”

Email: teams@volbop.org.nz to submit a nomination or call 07 571 3714 for more information.