A CanBead jewellery making workshop only takes a couple of hours but in that time Lois Greer, Workshop Volunteer for the Gore/Invercargill area, sees some incredible transformations.
”Some of our lovely participants arrive with the weight of the world on their shoulders. Over the course of the two hours their countenance changes and they set aside whatever pain they are carrying.”
The workshops are run by the CanInspire Charitable Trust, started by Sarah Clifford from Ashburton. Attending treatment sessions at Christchurch Hospital she found that the creative pursuit of jewellery making was a welcome distraction from her treatment and illness. The CanBead workshops enabled her to share this escape with others going through tough times.
Other health agencies like the Cancer Society and Brain Injury Association partner with CanBead to provide the workshops to their clients and their carers who are experiencing illness, trauma and loss. Lois says “They meet others in similar situations, get to be creative and it’s really great fun for us all.”
Lois answered the call for CanInspire volunteers because the cause was close to her heart. “I lost my Dad to cancer when I was 13, other family members have had it and my son had a classmate who went through her own journey so I have an awareness of the challenge of illness and loss.”
Married 41 years, Lois and her husband Robin have been involved in dairy farming in Southland since 1993. “We sharemilked in the Waikato first and then got the opportunity to buy our own farm down here.” Living in Tuturau, Lois still keeps the farm’s books. Along with two grandchildren and various arts and crafts projects on the go she leads a full and busy life.
However her volunteering is non-negotiable. “I’m very aware of the importance of balance in life and these workshops nurture me. I get as much out of them as the participants do.”
Lois is one of a chain of volunteers who break up donated jewellery, sew and assemble kits and help at the workshops. She says the workshops are fun, anything goes and she likes that at the end every participant gets to take home materials that enable them to continue being creative.
For Lois volunteering gives her a sense of perspective. “I come away from a workshop and feel uplifted because I have helped to make someónes day a little brighter and I’m just a little more grateful for the joys in my own life.”
Considering volunteering? Lois says “You’ll get personal satisfaction, meet new people and perhaps help someone doing it tough.”
If you'd like to learn more about CanInspire, head to https://www.caninspire.org.nz/
Written by Juliette Hicks, 2023