Few things are better than getting an award for having fun. For more than a decade, Betty Laing has been volunteering with the Dunedin Buddy Programme, bringing a little joy, friendship and guidance to a young person’s life.
She and fellow volunteers in the Buddy Programme won the Education Child and Youth Development Award, as well as the Overall Award at the inaugural SBS Dunedin Volunteer Awards at the Edgar Centre in October this year.
Ms Laing said she was quite surprised by her success, and perhaps a little cheeky, because she had not had to work hard for it.
She felt she had gained as much, if not more, from the programme as her buddy.
“I came into the programme because my grandchildren live in Australia, so I don’t see them very often.
“This is the next best thing.
“It’s certainly not a job or a chore. It’s fun.”
However, she said she was starting to find it more challenging.
“It’s changed as my buddy’s grown older.
“When she was little we did things like go to the playgrounds and the pool and feed the ducks.
“Anything to do with food is usually good.”
Programme co-ordinator Stephanie Finnie was delighted with the awards.
She said the programme contributed to the emotional and social wellbeing of children aged 5-12 by matching them with carefully selected and trained adult volunteers in a well-supported mentoring relationship.
The Buddy Programme was among 30 finalists vying for awards in 10 categories.
The awards recognise and celebrate the enormous amount of volunteer work that has been done in the Dunedin community during 2021.
This story is re-printed with the kind permission of the Otago Daily Times.
The Buddy Programme is a friendship mentoring programme for children aged from 5 to 12 years, aimed at building resilience and mana atua (personal wellbeing) while having fun. For for information please visit www.psotago.org.nz/buddies
Our Buddy Programme is 100% funded by donations - and is part of our social services Skillsbank. You can support this programme through donating to the Skillsbank