Faces behind our teams

4 December 2017

Behind every team of volunteers is always someone looking after the group. We have a number of great people supporting nearly 600 wonderful volunteers - all vital to the work we do.

Larissa Pearce has coordinated our Buddy Programme in Mosgiel since February this year. More recently, her role was expanded and she began to also support some of the Buddies based in Dunedin.

Larissa was drawn to the role because she wanted to know that a need was being met by the work she did, and that she was making a difference.

As a part-time Family Works team member, Larissa is currently responsible for 21 Buddy pairs. Each pair includes an Adult Buddy and a Young Buddy, aged 4 -12 years. They connect weekly and spend a couple of hours doing everyday activities, such as baking, playing sport, walking dogs and exploring places like the library.

As part of her work, Larissa meets many people who are looking to join the programme, either as adult volunteers or families with children looking for support.

“I’ve met so many fantastic volunteers who contribute to the Buddy Programme. Some have been involved for many years, and they bring that stability and life experience which many young buddies require.”

“We also have a number of young and vibrant students who are involved in Dunedin. It’s clear when you speak with them that they are volunteering because they see a need and they really want to make a difference.”

One of the most important parts of Larissa’s work is matching pairs together, before ongoing supervision.

“We have all sort of people involved, which is fantastic to see. I have some really patient and kind volunteers. The interaction they have is amazing to watch and you see a huge change in the children they work alongside, over a short period of time.”

“I also have some older volunteers who are still full of energy and will happily do things like playing dress ups and orienteering. These volunteers are a perfect match as they embrace the sense of adventure and fun which some of the Young Buddies need.”

Larissa is excited about the coming year, and the volunteers she supports. “I’ve still got plenty to learn, but I certainly have a greater appreciation for the work involved in coordinating a team of volunteers. I think the contribution from our volunteers is just incredible.”

There are over 130 active Buddy volunteers across the Otago Region, and there are always at least thirty young children waiting to be matched with an Adult Buddy.

If you’d like to consider volunteering as a Buddy, or with any of our other programmes, contact Michelle on 03 477 7115 or michelleg@psotago.org.nz.