With a ready smile, a lifetime of experience engaging with people from many cultures and a passion for helping others, Evan Glass was naturally drawn towards putting his hand up to being a refugee resettlement volunteer.
Evan is this month’s Volunteering Mid & South Canterbury and the Hotel Ashburton Volunteer of the Month.
Serving the community has been something that has long been part of Evan’s life having volunteered with Lions previously and a significant number of years as a Justice of the Peace.
When the Mid Canterbury refugee settlement support service put out their first call for volunteers, Evan put his hand up, – a decision he doesn’t regret.
He said his reward was seeing the smiles on the faces of the new Kiwis he works with, especially the children.
While living in Christchurch Evan and his wife, Heather were volunteers with English as a Second Language and he worked intensely with students helping them gain more English language skills.
He really enjoyed the volunteer work which followed a volunteering trip in India he did many years earlier through an organised tour.
He and another person on the tour worked with street boys to help them get into apprenticeships to meet a growing need for motorcycle mechanics.
Evan knows at least some of the boys took up the training, and this gave him a rewarding feeling knowing he helped change someone’s life.
In his Mid Canterbury role, Evan helps families settle into a new life in the district. One day it could be helping one of the young people get a licence, find a job, another day it could be taking a family to the pool or Christchurch.
There is great flexibility in the role of being a refugee resettlement volunteer as the volunteer can work as much or as little as they like and the tasks they fulfill depends on what each family needs and these needs do change as our new Kiwis gain more knowledge and confidence.
Each family have a group of volunteers supporting them in different ways, so the volunteers can offer their services for as much time as the have available as the families aren’t solely reliant on one person. It’s a volunteer role that works well for those in paid employment as well as those with more hours on their hands.
Evan says not many men put their hand up to be a refugee resettlement volunteer and he would really like other men to join him.
Volunteers do form close attachments with their families; he had one family where the boys asked if they could call him “Dad”.
Evan gets passionate when he talks about seeing his families grow, learn new skills, take up new opportunities.
He says this community has warmly welcomed the new Kiwis and helped them feel part of the community and, with volunteers like Evan alongside them, they are getting to experience everyday life in Mid Canterbury.
If you are a Not for Profit organisation and have a volunteer/s who you would like to nominate for the Volunteering Mid & South Canterbury/ Te Rōpū Tūao i te waenga o Waitaha and the Hotel Ashburton Volunteer of the Month email [email protected].