Hard work leads on to paid work for Frank Hurst September 2020

Volunteer at Whangarei Quarry Gardens

Quietly spoken, you can easily tell that Frank is very comfortable in the surroundings of the Whangarei Quarry Gardens as part of the Volunteer Team.

At the beginning of the year Frank was keen to get references for his CV so he could look for full-time employment. He was tired of sitting around doing nothing and the team at MSD suggested he try volunteering.

Frank had varied work experience including nursery work, fruit picking and farm work.
After a discussion about his skills and what he enjoys, Frank was referred by Volunteering Northland to the Whangarei Quarry Gardens. Frank has since volunteered two days per week - with a break for Covid-19.

“The camaraderie, meeting new people, having a good laugh and getting up and feeling you have something to do,” are just a few of the things Frank enjoys about working at the Gardens. The fact it keeps him fit and getting out and about also helps him maintain a positive mindset.

The days at the Gardens are varied with Frank happy to do “whatever goes really”. He gets pleasure from cleaning up rough spots and making them look nice noting “there’s plenty of that to do here”.

Guy Hessell, Gardens Manager, was only too happy to include Frank in the volunteer roster. Guy says “he’s young, fit, enthusiastic and hard-working. Frank is happy to do anything and fits in well with the team - I’d like more like him!”.

Frank’s hard work has led to part-time job offers. “People have phoned asking for help with their gardens and I’ve put them onto Frank as he turns up on time and is happy to do a good days work. One job has the potential to grow into more work which is great because it is what we really want”, says Guy.

An added bonus of volunteering at the gardens is learning from the old hands and meeting people with lots of knowledge which they are happy to share. Frank would like to move more into gardening as it is something he has always enjoyed. “I’ve got a passion for it but I’ve never been able to do it full time. Volunteering here has helped me get a foot in the door. I’m really happy with some part time work which could easily lead onto other things, especially with neighbours talking and seeing the changes in their gardens”.

Frank has noticed positive changes in himself since starting.”I have more motivation when I have something to do rather than sitting around doing nothing, volunteering gives me a purpose and I’m working somewhere I can see real change with the work I do”.

Whangarei Quarry Gardens have about 30-35 garden volunteers but there are also volunteers for other functions - so probably closer to 100. It is estimated the volunteers contribute approximately 150,000 hours of unpaid work a year. Guy notes it is therefore absolutely critical to keep the volunteer base going so our relationship with Volunteering Northland is important.

Working with Frank is mutually beneficial for all, he gets work experience and job satisfaction in a great environment and the Whangarei Quarry Gardens get an awesome worker who is happy to work hard to continually improve the gardens.

Story by Cindy Borrie, volunteer reporter, July 2020