Marie McAnulty is retiring and leaving the district after eight years co-ordinating local family wellbeing programme SEEDS and doing her bit in the community.
SEEDS, which stands for Sharing Everyday Experiences and Drawing on Skills, is a free programme and matches a family with an experienced and trained volunteer parent support worker to teach various parenting and home skills in a one-on-one situation in their home environment.
Marie, who hails from Masterton, said her stint running the programme had been rewarding work and she would miss her interaction with volunteers, colleagues at Safer Mid Canterbury and others at Community House.
SEEDS client numbers had been generally around the 40 mark each year and volunteer numbers had been steady at between 12 and 15, but numbers were down a bit since covid, she said.
Marie said the SEEDS programme was about empowerment and teaching young mums and dads basic skills and making suggestions without putting pressure on them to follow through.
“The feedback we’ve had through evaluations and word of mouth has always been really good, which makes the programme worthwhile.”
Marie said her job had opened up her eyes to the issue of rural isolation for some people and she had pushed for more support for them.
A rural driver licensing scheme had now been running successfully in the district over the past few years and was making a difference, she said.
Community-minded, Marie has always shared her ideas and been involved with other useful projects that have benefitted residents.
They include building and placing six mini libraries around Ashburton, a food pantry based at Community House and two printed booklets featuring budget recipes ideas and activities for kids.
She has also organised speed networking events to give community groups, organisations and agencies the chance to promote themselves and been a valuable member of Ashburton County Lions, where she has been involved with organising Stars In Your Eyes and other club fundraisers.
“When I first came to Ashburton I didn’t know anyone and after a month I wanted to leave. But over time I’ve made friends and really enjoyed my stint here.”
Marie and husband Mike intend taking their caravan on a road trip around the South Island before they head back to the Wairarapa to enjoy retirement.
-By Mick Jensen