Why Do We Volunteer?

During this year’s National Volunteer week, we would like to celebrate one of WAI Wānaka’s most dedicated volunteers.
Every organisation needs that one person who is able to keep a bird’s-eye perspective of what is happening and who can hold all the strings at the same time, without them all getting tangled in a big heap. This person at WAI Wānaka is our Manager Julie Perry.
Julie with her dogs Mango and Moose

Like most of us who are involved at WAI, her journey started as a volunteer and to this day includes uncountable volunteer hours. Not just for WAI Wānaka either, but also for other organisations like ‘Shaping Our Future’ involved with community wellbeing. Read more about her journey below.

thank you for everything you do for this community and our environment julie – we couldn’t do it without you!

My Volunteering Journey

– by Julie Perry

I first visited Wānaka in 1987, when my husband and I spent a couple of weeks touring the South Island. We both felt a strong connection with Wānaka, and we started coming here to ski for a couple of weeks each year. After purchasing a section in 2002, we built a one bedroom holiday home and headed to Wānaka as often as we could. It took us until 2017 to finally be able to live here permanently.

I started volunteering for the Upper Clutha Water Group in August 2017. They had successfully applied for funding from the Ministry for the Environment, and there was a lot of work to do to establish the structure needed to get underway with the project. It couldn’t kick off until all the i’s had been dotted and t’s crossed, which required months of volunteer effort from a team of people.

my volunteering came about because of an interest in learning more about the challenges our community faced.

Julie Perry & Megan Williams with the catchment map at the Eco Fair – Oct 2018

After becoming involved with the Upper Clutha Water Group, I subsequently became honorary secretary of the Lake Wānaka Trust and joined the board of Shaping Our Future.

Having never worked for a not for profit organisation, I was on a learning curve with all these organisations when it came to things like meeting protocols and decision making processes, not to mention the continual demand for funding to do what needed to be done.

In April 2018, the Upper Clutha Water Group and Lake Wānaka Trust merged, ultimately becoming the WAI Wānaka that we know today. We were fortunate to increase our funding support along the way, which allowed me and other volunteers to start being paid for some of our work.

“Volunteers are the backbone of WAI Wānaka, particularly our trustees, who volunteer their expertise every month. The team at WAI Wānaka is a prime example of how offering your skills as a volunteer can lead to paid employment.”

Looking at the people I work alongside now, all of us started working for WAI Wānaka in a volunteer capacity. In every case, WAI Wānaka was able to demonstrate the value of the work being done by these volunteers, and secure funding to support the expansion of our work.

Thanks to my journey as a volunteer, I know a little bit more about our region’s waterways and our environmental challenges than I did in 2017. I can say without hesitation that there is great satisfaction in volunteering for your community and learning to be part of something that makes a difference.

#AotearoaOfKindness #NVW #volunteersNZ