Kia ora, welcome to Volunteering Northland

clock icon4 August 2023

Volunteer Spotlight: Verena - Creating Community Spaces for Everyone

‘A passion for creating inclusive spaces, doing her part for the good of society and meeting like-minded people’ motivate Verena to volunteer.

Four smiling people in the library, standing in front of a black board with game descriptions.

Story by Janine Duncan, Volunteering Northland
Picture (left to right): Clark, Verena, Maddie and Cam at one of Verena's game events.

‘A passion for creating inclusive spaces, doing her part for the good of society and meeting like-minded people’ - these are the driving forces behind Verena Pschorn’s love for volunteering and her position as Volunteering Northland’s Community Connections Co-ordinator.

Verena’s volunteering journey began while she was still in school. Wanting to do something for the environment, she joined a youth conservation trust in her hometown Mainz in Germany, where she involved herself in youth-led environmental education programmes and working bees. She eventually became the regional youth board representative and chairperson, with responsibilities in finances, human resources and event management.

Verena also has a passion for fostering community connections through play and games. In the following years, she was able to move into creating inclusive gaming spaces through her volunteering in clubs where she ran gaming events, groups and workshops. She joined two international gaming associations that support the development of intercultural co-operation through Europe-wide game creation and design events.

As well as a strong sense of personal satisfaction, her volunteering experiences provided valuable networking opportunities and referees for her CV. It also helped her to develop a vast array of skills outside her university studies in social science, leading to several job offers throughout the years. ‘Volunteering freed me up to try myself out – to do things I hadn’t tried before without being too worried.’

Her volunteer experience in project management and environmental causes came in handy when she joined the Ahi Wai Eco-Neighbourhood Whangārei project shortly after arriving in New Zealand in 2018. She supported the village’s project team with the resource consent application, as well as the strategic road mapping and taking on other project coordination tasks. Always looking for new ways to volunteer, Verena contacted Volunteering Northland in 2021 and this connection resulted in her eventually joining the team as a paid employee.

Outside her paid role, her zest for volunteering has led to involvement with several projects in Whangārei. She is a founding board member of the Questionable Research Labs Charitable Trust, where she runs groups, encouraging children and teens to develop their creativity, interest and skills in the science, technology and creative sectors. She also manages to find time to mentor for I Have a Dream, run community events for the Human Library Project and Whangarei Pride Month, and co-ordinate volunteers for the Whangārei Fringe Festival. Combing her passions in both paid employment and voluntary initiatives ensures Verena lives a very full and busy life.

To those considering volunteering, her advice is simply ‘Go and volunteer. Driving the change you want to see in your community isn’t always easy, but it is powerful. Not everything I volunteered for in the past was for me. But it’s all a learning experience and adds so much to my life.’