Media Release: Volunteers and Mentors thanked

Whangārei charity I Have a Dream (IHAD) is thanking its mentors and volunteers for their generosity in supporting the programme designed to improve career and life outcomes for local youth. Volunteer hours gifted from Northlanders throughout Te Tai Tokerau to IHAD are invaluable to the cause and CEO Chris Twiss says the charity remains committed to helping young people achieve learning and life success. I Have a Dream is a much stronger organisation with this local support and guidance, he says.

“Our volunteers just make all the difference to our Dreamers and we are so thankful for the commitment, humility and expertise they bring to the programme because IHAD is here to stay. We are in this for the long haul,” Chris.

“When you look at the commitment of these locals, that is an immensely generous effort and we see the positive impact of that daily. Not only that, we hear it from the students, their parents, teachers and Principals, our Navigators and of course the volunteers doing the mahi.”
And while hugely appreciative of the devotion from the loyal IHAD volunteers and mentors, Chris says he is keen to bring even more Northlanders on board to help out and share their expertise and life experiences.

“Our organisation is committed to increasing our impact in Northland so we really want to hear from people who want to make a difference to the lives of the tamariki and rangatahi. All I see with IHAD is the ability to create immense opportunities for our Whangārei and Northland youth.

“The mentoring programme has always been a big part of IHAD because, like our volunteers, the mentors bring different perspectives and they are committed to developing the children within our partner kura, often over the long term.”

Volunteer of four years Minesha Balasingham is passionate about her volunteering for IHAD, labelling it ‘soul food’.

She has been helping out at Tikipunga Primary and Totara Grove Primary School since 2017 and is always encouraging her friends to volunteer.

“I started with Year Three students and have worked right through with the same students so I am now helping those same children at Year Seven. Doing this work with IHAD has been an eye opener. Our role is to be there for the children and listen to them at their level, understand what happens in their lives and offer support,” says Minesha.

“I find enormous fulfilment and satisfaction by talking and interacting with the children I work with in the after school programme. If you want to touch the future, touch a life.”

Retired Mangawhai resident and IHAD mentor Dave Cotty became involved with the programme in 2019.

“I learnt about IHAD after reading an Alan Duff book. I did some research and started making a monthly donation. Then out of the blue I got a thank you call from IHAD Chairperson Scott Gilmour. I was amazed someone as senior as him would call me over such a small donation,” says Dave.

Dave became a mentor after six months volunteering.

“After I spoke to Scott, I went to a meeting with the Navigators and I have never seen so much enthusiasm. I was blown away. So once a week during the school term I drive to Totara Grove and help out where I can and I am also mentoring a young Māori lad at Tikipunga High. He is 13 and wants to become an architect. We have already connected with Auckland University and I plan to do everything I can to make his dream a possibility.”

“I Have a Dream has a variety of mentoring and volunteering opportunities to contribute and make a real difference. We have regular and consistent mentoring and volunteering roles, including after school programme assistant and more flexible roles including developing a 1-1 relationship as a mentor to one young person,” says Chris.

If anyone is interested or would like to find out more please contact Kirsty Pillay-Hansen (Mentoring and Volunteering Manager) at kirsty@ihaveadream.org.nz


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