Giving back to the community

If you visit Family Works in South Dunedin most Wednesday mornings, and sometimes on Friday, you’ll find Jan Letts volunteering as part of the Stepping Stones team.

Stepping Stones is a community service, run by Family Works in South Dunedin, promoting mental and social well-being and resilience. The programme puts significant emphasis on connecting people in the community with those who are part of Stepping Stones.

Jan is a great example of this, and for the last three year she has been one of the regular volunteers who regularly join in with Stepping Stones.

“When I was looking to retire I wanted to do something that I was interested in and that helped others. I’ve always been keen on stitching things, and I heard through the Embroiderers Guild that Stepping Stones was looking for some volunteers to assist. I really enjoy sharing my interest with others.”

Jan brings along a craft activity each Wednesday morning, and anyone who wants to give it a go can join in. Every week a different craft or activity is offered. The group has made fridge magnets, pasta painting, felt work, cross-stitch, painted air drying clay and countless other crafts. A number of the pieces that have been created remain proudly on display in the Stepping Stones space.

On Friday the task is to sew reusable cloth bags, which are labelled and sent to Op Shop on St Andrew to be used by customers. Another group of people from the community participate each Friday, and what began as a monthly activity has become the Friday tradition for the group.

Jan gets plenty of satisfaction from her time each week volunteering with Stepping Stones, “When I’m here there are staff, volunteers and clients all involved. Everyone is treated the same, which is fantastic.”

“It can get pretty busy when we have a number of people all learning a new craft or skill. Since I began volunteering I’ve had another friend join me to help each week, and we both assist people as they need it.”

A few moments of coaching from Jan can make all the difference.

“It’s a fantastic feeling to see someone smile, and share the thrill they have when they’ve achieved something new,” said Jan, before she had to pause from sharing her story and get back to give more help and instruction to some very keen cross-stitch learners.

Presbyterian Support Otago needs volunteers to assist with programmes like Stepping Stones. Contact Michelle on 03 477 7115 to find out more about volunteering opportunities.