A role good for the soul

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Ashburton Conference of St Vincent de Paul member Michael Hanrahan, left, and president Evans Chibanguza.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul has been serving the Ashburton community since 1960, and are on the look out for more volunteers to continue their work.

Ashburton Conference of St Vincent de Paul president Evans Chibanguza said the society is looking to recruit new volunteers in three main areas; the shop, delivery people and members.

“The shop has a team of around 30 on a roster, some work every day, some one day a week.

It attracts mostly retired people but anyone of any age are welcome to volunteer,” he said.

The delivery team deliver furniture that has been sold from the shop and pick up items that have been donated.

“We’re not asking people to make a commitment to do it every week, if we have a pool of people who we can call on when needed, that would be useful for us.”

St Vincent de Paul member Michael Hanrahan said the third area they require people is for the membership.

“We’re a Christian organisation and we follow the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church and since we were founded in 1833 our members have gone out to peoples homes,” he said.

Mr Chibanguza said the members mainly delivered food parcels, “people ring us and if they need food then those members take it out.”

But it is not just dropping the food parcels off and then leaving, members spend time with the person to get a better understanding about what is going on in their lives and assess whether any other help is required.

“Once we are out there, we’re talking to people, you find out other things they may need assistance with.”

Mr Hanrahan said sometimes when he arrives on a property he has a look at the windscreen of the car to see if it is registered and warranted.

“Because if its not, there will be some big money there, we can help with that if necessary,” he said.

The ideal person to take on this kind of volunteering work has plenty of empathy and is good with people.

“The biggest thing is empathy, that ability to listen and engage with people and form relationships, we are in there for a short period of time, but it is amazing what you can get from listening and just being observant,” Mr Chibanguza said.

The work is rewarding and the men have witnessed people at their lowest point coming out the other side.

“Seeing someone in a terrible situation and then watching them grow is rewarding, we’ve had a few cases who have come back and give a donation because we have helped them in the past,” Mr Chibanguza said.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul is a Christian organisation and the volunteering work helps the members personal growth.

“This work is also about our spiritual growth, doing this type of work is the tool we use, so it is about the members own spiritual growth in helping other people,” Mr Chibanguza said.

If you are interested in volunteering ring 027 607 0107, or visit the shop on Victoria Street.

-By Daniel Tobin