Meeting People and Gaining Connections May 2019

Helping out at a Volunteering Northland Stall, Vaida Sirutyte-Hughes on the right with Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai and volunteer Harry Dangen

“I am passionate about this role and I really enjoy helping in the community”

Vaida Sirutyte-Hughes did a great job of keeping herself busy as a new arrival to NZ in late 2017. With her kiwi husband and two sons, (a preschooler and a 20 year old), there was a house to renovate, but most importantly a desire to get out and meet new people, learn new skills and to get a job.

Vaida is originally from Lithuania, but previous to arriving in NZ she worked in London for 15 years. The first step to meeting people was to head to Multicultural Whangarei where she was introduced to Volunteering Northland. Volunteering with the team, Vaida helped administer a project for National Volunteer Week 2018 working with the local business community. In 2018, while also volunteering at the Quarry Arts Centre in their accounts department, Vaida completed a 20 week Smart Step to Business Course through Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, and a Professional Speaking course through Multicultural Whangarei and Speech NZ.

While volunteering with Volunteering Northland, Vaida said she was interested in the Emergency Services and the work of the local police. Trish from Volunteering Northland explained all the voluntary emergency service roles including the Fire Service, St John and the city CCTV operators. Another volunteer role keeping the community safe is Whangarei Community Patrol.

Whangarei Community Patrol act as eyes and ears for the police by patrolling residential, business and industrial areas around the city, Vaida is now one of the regulars, heading out once a month on patrol on either a Friday or Saturday night from 10pm to 1am.

Not stopping there, Vaida mentions “I must have explained to Community Patrol that my background is in accounts so they have asked me to also come on board as their treasurer”.

Vaida has now secured a full-time job (on a temporary contract) and continues volunteering with Whangarei Community Patrol. “I am passionate about this role and I really enjoy helping in the community”

“I am learning all the time volunteering, especially picking up Kiwi phrases. I am meeting lovely people and making new connections. I am sure it has contributed to me securing a job as I have also gained Kiwi references and local knowledge”

Story by Trish Clarke (Volunteering Northland)