Fast forward to now: as well as working part-time, Kerry is a dedicated volunteer for three organisations – Salvation Army, Aotea Railway and the Awatea Community Garden in Porirua. And she’s passionate about encouraging others to do the same.

Kerry lives with her 17-year-old son and partner in a Kāinga Ora home in Porirua. She moved into her first Kāinga Ora home when her son was one and moved into her current home about two years ago.

“I like my quiet and friendly neighbourhood,” says Kerry.

Kerry is fundraising for the Salvation Army

As well as working part-time, Kerry’s week is packed with voluntary activities. Every Wednesday morning, she volunteers at the Awatea Community Garden and helps community members with gardening activities and growing kai. She also helps running the Lions Club of Aotea Railway at the lagoon on Sundays. And in between, you can find her fundraising for the Salvation Army, packing food parcels or helping out at one of their events.

“It’s the love I get back that keeps me going,” says Kerry. “A smile on a little boy’s face when he’s on the train driving around the lagoon or the gratefulness of someone who I help learn to grow kai in their own garden.”

When you see Kerry confidently planting seedlings in the Awatea Community Garden, it’s hard to imagine that only a year ago, she had no interest in gardening at all. Now, not only is Kerry’s garden one of the most flourishing patches in the community garden; she also helps out people who are just starting to get set up and confident in the garden.

“I don’t really feel working in the community garden is volunteering now; it is just part of my weekly plans. I love it,” Kerry says.

Volunteering has been life changing for Kerry and she encourages everyone to try and find a few hours per week to volunteer and make a difference in their community.

“People have noticed that since I started volunteering, I have changed positively. They say I look happier and more confident,” says Kerry.

“I truly believe you get as much – if not more – out of volunteering as what you put in, so why not get involved. If you think about it, how often do you come home and do nothing? There’s always an afternoon or evening where you can make it work.”

“Just try it, I guarantee it will make a difference in your life and the community,” ends Kerry.

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Page updated: 19 June 2023