“Volunteering is great for the soul” says Queenstown’s Simon Hayes. He should know. He does a lot of it.
For 36 years hte previous counsellor and Deputy Mayor has been a tireless supporter of a wide range of local and national community projects and organisations. Simon says that these days a lot of his community involvement revolves around care for the welfare of elderly people. “I seem to have an affinity with them. It must be my age” he laughs.
Simon gravitates to organisations that help the less affluent elderly in the community. He says “There are some amazing facilities for the elderly in this area but not everyone can afford to access them. I like to be involved with things that make life more enjoyable and affordable for older people.”
Like many organisations the Wakatipu Senior Citizens Association was struggling to find committee members and reached out to tap into Simon’s skill set. As Vice President he oversees the governance of an inclusive group that offers over 60s regular inexpensive meetups and monthly outings. “We advocate for the elderly as well. They deserve a cohesive voice.”
The desire to help overcome loneliness is also the objective of Abbeyfield New Zealand which provides affordable supported shared housing for single elderly. As New Zealand Chairman Simon oversees 14 Abbeyfield houses around the country including one in Frankton. Residents have their own units with ensuites but are fully supported with meals and housekeeping undertaken by volunteers.
Growing up in Australia's country Victoria Simon says giving back to the community was a way of life. “We all did it. My parents and my brothers. It was taken for granted that we would lay our part. I’ve just continued on with it wherever I’ve lived."
Simon and his wife of 46 years Ngaire have lived in Queenstown for 36 years and say it has been a wonderful place to bring up children. He plays golf which is “fun sometimes” and loves nothing more than carving the early morning first tracks on the ski field.
“But Queenstown isn't only a beautiful place with a lot of activities,'' he says,"It’s also a strong and supportive community. I’ve been fundraising here for years and have always found the community to be generous. It’s a great place to be a volunteer.” The Lions and the RSA also continue to benefit from Simon’s enthusiastic community endeavours.
For a person who lives by the adage “In giving you receive” it’s easy to see why Simon recommends anyone considering volunteering to “Absolutely do it. A good organisation will welcome you with open arms, you will be supported and valued and you can't put a price on the rewards you will receive.”
Written by Juliette Hicks
You can learn more about Wakatipu Senior Citizens Association by heading to this link: https://groups.qldc.govt.nz/groups/show/wakatipu-senior-citizens-association/