Katikati volunteer manager Lesley Ruf wears many hats – and she’s desperate for more volunteers to manage.
Next week it’s International Volunteer Managers’ Day on November 5, and all over the Bay of Plenty, managers are being celebrated for the work they do for no financial reward.
Lesley manages about 35 volunteer drivers who operate the Katikati Community Van, taking people to medical appointments and day surgeries in Tauranga. But she’s desperate for more drivers.
“There’s a growing demand – up 30 percent over the past three years. We have an aging population who can no longer drive themselves or are frail and every year we lose a few drivers who move away or can no longer drive themselves.”
It also takes several weeks to bring new drivers on board as they must all be police checked, which takes four to six weeks, and then they go out first with a buddy, or when they manage the wheelchair van for the first time.
The service has three vehicles, two wheelchair capable vans and a car, and clients pay $20 to get to their appointments. They book through the Community Centre and there are eight diary holders who look after the bookings twice a day, finding a driver and allocating a vehicle based on the destination and timing.
Some people pool trips to save costs, and some doing day stay surgeries in Tauranga may have a different driver bringing them home in the door-to-door service.
Lesley herself is a driver, treasurer, diary holder and coordinator, all of which overlap. She became a manager by getting shoulder-tapped when she became a driver as something to do in retirement. Now she’d like many more drivers to manage.
“I get real pleasure out of it. You meet so many interesting, lovely people and almost all are so appreciative. The drivers are not difficult to manage and I get so much satisfaction giving something back to the community. We’ve been fortunate all our lives so it’s great to do something for others.”
SociaLink’s Volunteering Services is planning some celebrations for its many volunteer managers and coordinators, with morning teas or breakfasts throughout November in four areas – Katikati, Waihī Beach, Te Puke and Tauranga – to thank them for the work they do.
Volunteering Services manager Angela Wallace said the work of volunteer managers and coordinators was important in providing much-needed services in all communities.
“Almost all of our local for-purpose organisations are powered by volunteers. This International Volunteer Managers’ Day we want to celebrate the volunteer managers who help others help. They are often volunteers themselves, and their work rallying, rostering and recognising volunteers is invaluable.”