Volunteering “makes you feel like you belong” - Daniela Diaz

Picture of Daniela Diaz.

Volunteer South is excited to celebrate Te Wiki Tūao a Motu National Volunteer Week 16th-22nd June. This year’s theme ‘Whiria Te Tangata- Weaving the People Together’ perfectly represents the role volunteering plays in the uniquely diverse Whakatipu community, a constantly evolving mix of short-term, long-term, Kiwis and immigrants.

Volunteering provides newcomers with opportunities to connect with others, learn new skills and find a sense of belonging. Long-term Queenstown resident Daniela Diaz Soto, volunteer writer of Nuestra Voz, LWBs Spanish-language column, shares her volunteer journey.

VS: Why did you choose to volunteer?

Dani: Deciding to volunteer came from the idea of getting closer to the community. I have always loved helping others, and giving a little of my time to make someone's life less difficult is part of my motivation. And once I started, I felt like continuing to do it.

VS: How has volunteering affected your journey in Aotearoa?

Dani: When I arrived in New Zealand, I felt very disconnected for a long time, and I realized that collaborating with the community where you live makes you feel like you belong.

I contribute for free to the Lakes Weekly Bulletin magazine, writing a column in Spanish for the Latin community, providing relevant information that could serve as a guide, as well as highlighting stories of Latinos in the area. Without seeking it, this opened a door…even getting a paid project for the Council to highlight immigrant stories, which were published in LWB and The Wanaka Sun.

I have also volunteered for Repair Cafés, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, and I am in the application process at Happiness House.

VS: Wow, impressive! And how has volunteering impacted you?

Dani: Volunteering has changed the way I interact with people. It has made me meet new people from different parts of the world, and it has shown me the kindness of the community.

VS: Ka pai! So inspiring. Finally, any advice for someone new to the community thinking about volunteering?

Dani: I encourage people to volunteer where their heart resonates the most. For many, it is about thinking there is no remuneration, but there is. It makes you feel good that something as simple but important as your time is being used to help someone. Additionally, you can make new friends and connect more with your community. It has helped me a lot in my experience as an immigrant.

Thank you, Dani, for your incredible contributions to our community. Volunteer South is grateful for all volunteers across the region who weave people together, and strengthen our community!

Keen to volunteer? Citizens Advice Bureau has roles for you! Click here