Volunteer Voices- "It is a privilege to be able to keep a connection and give back"- Lily

Lily Wilson (R) has made some of her closest friends through volunteering

“I view volunteering as an opportunity.” says Year 13 MAC Student LiIy Wilson. “My own volunteering has improved my people skills and confidence and I’ve made some of my closest friends through it.”

Since the age of six Lily has been part of the St John Youth in Wanaka which is designed for 5-18-year-olds. The national programme has an ethos of caring and focuses on developing young New Zealanders to become outstanding citizens through fun and challenging activities.

Lily's Mum, Tina Simmonds, started the local division and continues to run it. Lily has moved from having fun there as a Penguin (year 0-6) to becoming a Cadet of the Year. Later this year she will become a Leader.

Over her years with St John Youth Lily has volunteered in many areas including fundraisers at Challenge Wanaka, the A&P Show, the Food Bank Drive and the annual Hato Hone St John’s Appeal. In her role as Cadet she has attended the Anzac parade and has helped at Santa’s Grotto and Hato Hone St John’s senior citizen lunches.

Further afield she has loved being a part of the running of several Youth South Island Camps helping with the delivery of some of the structured curriculum activities which enable participants to gain badges and leadership opportunities. “These camps are so much fun but at the same time people are learning new skills, gaining knowledge and finding out how to care for others.”

Giving back is also woven into her busy school life. As leader of the Mount Aspiring College Service Committee she and her team organise events for students to give back to the school and the wider community. All of her volunteering counts towards her achievement in the Student Community Program at MAC.

During the Winter months she takes on another volunteering challenge by coaching netball.

Lily says “I loved my time at Holy Family School and it is a privilege to be able to keep a connection and give back through netball coaching.” Last year she had a coaching role with the MAC netball programme as well.

Lily loves life in Wanaka. “I love its beauty and access to lakes and ski fields. Above all, I feel so grateful to be supported by a lovely circle of friends and family. That’s part of the reason I like to give back.”

She says to anyone considering it “Give volunteering a try. There are tons of opportunities out there. You can volunteer on a flexible basis and when you find something that suits you it will definitely enhance your life.”

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Written for Volunteer South by Juliette Hicks, 2024