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Volunteers honoured for their work

By JUDITH LACY
Photos: LEILANI HATCH 

When Lea Stuart saw an advertisement asking people to step out of their comfort and become a volunteer she did.

She was one of about 50 people who stepped their way around The Square on Thursday in inclement weather on the Volunteer Awareness Week march.

The march to Community House was organised by Volunteer Resource Centre Manawatu and Districts.

Ms Stuart has been a member of Red Cross’ emergency response team since 2003, first in Hawke’s Bay and then Manawatu.

When she saw the newspaper advertisement for volunteers, she thought it sounded like her.

‘‘I thought that was me. I’ve been stuck ever since.’’

The role of an emergency response worker is varied – everything from first aid, flood evacuation, people tracing and assisting with search and rescue.

She still enjoys her volunteering and some of her team members worked in Christchurch after the February earthquake.

Smile whatever the weather
Red Cross Palmerston North branch president Roger Foster creates a colourful scene.

Ms Stuart is a support person for NZCare, looking after people with intellectual disabilities. 

‘‘It’s a great job, challenging moments but als  heart warming.’’

Twenty organisations were represented on the march: Volunteer Resource Centre (VRC), Citizens Advice Bureau, Cailin Traditional Irish Dancing, Red Cross, Prisoners’ Aid and Rehabilitation Society (Pars), Brain Injury Central Districts, Community Patrol, Samaritans, Parentline, Youthline, Neighbourhood Watch, Age Concern, Presbyterian Church, Manawatu Home Budgeting Service, SuperGrans, Abuse and Rape Crisis, Environment Network Manawatu, Housing Advice Centre, Access Manawatu and Community Arts Palmerston North.

VRC chairwoman Norelle Ward said the work of volunteers was important and much appreciated.
Volunteers were thanked with a Hester Guy afternoon tea, which also marked VRC's first birthday.

Positive steps
Regent Arcade took on a European-esque look as volunteers filled it with bright umbrellas. The Volunteer Awareness Week march was led by Norelle Ward and her daughter Emileigh, 2.