Volunteer Spotlight: Patricia - Aligning Passion and Purpose
Utilizing her combined passions for education and volunteering.
Story by Janine Duncan
As Community Navigator for Volunteering Northland, Patricia Santos has found her ideal role utilizing her combined passions for education and volunteering.
Originally from Brazil, Patricia moved to New Zealand after developing a strong interest in our country’s culture while living in Sydney. Having now lived here for over twenty years; she has experienced a very varied and diverse work history; ranging from hospitality, retail, the arts sector, education, and tourism.
After becoming a mother, Patricia wished to embark on a different career pathway and successfully completed a Bachelor of Education (Primary) from the University of Auckland in 2019. During her studies, she commenced volunteering as a Portuguese language and heritage teacher to children within the Brazilian community. This initiative grew from a desire to gain further purpose and meaning within her life and to prove she had valuable skills to offer. In doing so, she gained considerable respect within the community, built long-lasting friendships, and refined skills complementing her teaching studies.
Upon moving to Whangarei in 2020, Patricia initially worked as a relieving teacher. Wanting to combine her love of education and conservation, she studied sustainable land practices at NorthTec while simultaneously volunteering at a community garden. Continuing to use her passions to guide her volunteering endeavours, Patricia became involved with pest plant control at Tutukaka Landcare and events at One One Six Theatre and the Whangarei Fringe Festival. By doing so, she thrived on the rewards gained through community contribution, fulfilled her love of meeting people, and gained contacts and references which led to further employment opportunities.
Commencing her current position in 2022, Patricia uses her education skills within the community by promoting and building awareness of the benefits of volunteering. In this role, she now feels “complete” and has really found her purpose as the position strongly aligns with her personal values and aspirations.
To those contemplating volunteering; she believes “it is empowering, a way of taking control of your destiny through action and a means of creating the type of community you wish to live in.” Additionally, she strongly recommends it to determine whether a certain pathway is an ideal fit when considering a career change or tertiary study.
As a community advocate, Patricia strongly believes in practicing what she preaches and currently is still involved with One One Six while also serving on the Trade Aid Board of Trustees. She likens volunteering to “abundance” as you receive so much personal gain through the power of giving; finds it extremely beneficial to her mental health and strongly believes in the “power of community-led social change.” All these reasons inspire and motivate Patricia to continue working and volunteering in ways she truly loves.