Shabana McKnight loves volunteering for Te Whare Koha, “I love the people. We have lots of laughs and it connects me to what’s going on in our community.”

Shabana is one of the volunteer drivers for Te Whare Koha Highbury a Te Roopu Oranga O Highbury Trust; an organisation which works to improve the health and wellbeing of the Highbury community and surrounding suburbs. She drives Highbury residents to Just Zilch in the early evenings so they can access food from the Free Store and drops them home afterwards “so they don’t have to carry their food on foot. They sign up for the JZ run during the day.” The van can fit 7 people at a time.

Shabana has been volunteering for Te Whare Koha for six months. “I work during the day so needed a way to help after work. The van run worked out great for that.” The Te Whare Koha van gets a lot of use. It also connects people to health services and appointments during the day.

“What I see on the van runs is that people spend the time together catching up with everything that’s going on in our community. They support each other and offer advice. They talk about other issues going on for them, too, like the other day someone was talking about how the damp in his house is causing mould and health problems and all the others jumped in with solutions for him. It’s so great to see” said Shabana.

Shabana said the Te Whare Koha staff make volunteering easy and fun, “the team here are really positive, encouraging and helpful. I’d love to see more volunteers here. There’s something for every level of skill and time availability. You don’t have to commit to regular hours to come and help.”

Shabana also volunteers for the Red Cross, working with refugees. She loves doing tangible things to help improve people’s lives.

“I think what I’ve learned from volunteering with people is that the tough times don’t last forever. With the right support, people can turn things around.”

Te Whare Koha is based at 42 Pembroke Street, Highbury and offers many services to the community including a large Free Store (clothes and household goods) and a food shelf. Te Whare Koha welcome donations of clothes and household goods (clean and in good condition) and food items. The organisation loves to welcome new volunteers on board and are currently seeking volunteers for shop-sorting, driving and gardening. Contact Te Whare Koha on 027 543 9663.

Shabana McKnight in Te Whare Koha's free store.