By Georgina Richards, District Trainer and member of the Satellite Rotary Club of Orewa-Millwater, New Zealand
Due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in New Zealand, our local community members posted concerns on our community Facebook page prior to a lockdown in our area and a meeting for community members to express their concerns was arranged. My husband, Gary, and I attended along with fellow Rotarian Paul Conroy to identify how we could assist.
There were approximately 20 people in attendance, all willing to put together a group of individuals to assist those identified as being at-risk. We decided to offer grocery, pharmacy and errand services. We introduced the idea of promoting the project as a Rotary club project due to the credibility and name Rotary carried in the community, which would ease the minds of those reaching out. I volunteered to be the point of contact for any requests coming through and help organize a Facebook Messenger group of those interested in volunteering. We recommended that a committee be created so that the project would have clear direction as interest grew.
Gary and I, along with three others, became committee members which comprised of a Communications Advisor, Health and Safety Advisor, Project Coordinator, Team Leader Advisor. With the growing number of volunteers, we also created an Administrator role. The other organizers of the project were very overwhelmed with the response from the community and were grateful to have Rotary on board to manage and oversee the project.
We acted very quickly during this time, creating a volunteer database and team leader roles, identified five team leaders, and allocated 8-10 volunteers to each team leader. We produced leaflets and distributed these within 96 hours of starting this project. Due to the volume of volunteers, we were able to work collaboratively with the local police, who advised us that the work we were doing was essential. Badges were created for volunteers for recognition, along with declaration forms so that volunteers could track and assess their own health and safety in accordance with government guidelines.
Gary and I donated $500 (NZD) to our local grocery store to help with grocery runs. The project is carried out as followed:
- A request is made to a team leader, which is then forwarded to a volunteer
- The shopping request is completed and signed for at the supermarket
- The groceries are dropped off with the receipt
- The recipient is emailed the invoice and they pay for the purchased items
We began receiving requests very quickly as the country went into complete lockdown and we are currently doing shopping daily for people.
We included an option for people to donate to our club on their invoices and to date have received funds amounting to $2,060. After consulting with our club, we have made a decision to use the money raised during this time to fund a community project. I spoke to a couple who made a large donation and asked them what they thought of the service and Rotary, and they told us “We are safe because of you.”
It touched my heart that even during times of adversity, we can still make a difference in people’s lives. We continue to receive calls of gratitude and have concerned people contact us for support, as well as other community groups offering to help where needed, which has been wonderful. It has been a privilege to be able to do this and we are extremely grateful for being given the opportunity to do so.