Arohanui Hospice Shops’ volunteer, Donna Clapham, was recently honoured in November at the Volunteer Resource Centre Manawatu’s 6th annual Volunteer Recognition Event. For the past five years, Donna’s made a significant impact on our community, bringing joy to peoples’ lives with her recycling and upcycling of donated items that are sold at Arohanui Hospice – Lombard Street. Furthermore, sales from her contributions – from jewellery to cake stands; candles to terrariums – help make our services free for those in the region. Here, Donna shares her journey with Arohanui Hospice – a story of love received, love returned.
“When my sister in Canada taught me about jewellery-making I discovered I really enjoyed it. I started volunteering at Arohanui Hospice’s Lombard Street Shop about five years ago – fixing jewellery that came in missing a link, or a latch. It feels good to contribute to our community. I spend as many hours a week as I can making things for the shop – recently that’s been about 3 hours a day.
I have a hobby that I love and as I get access to amazing items that are donated to the Lombard Street Shop that may be in need of fixing – if someone wasn’t going to fix it, it wouldn’t be worth anything. I love finding ways to fix and upcycle – I’m able to make old things new again.
I go with the flow with what’s available. Right now, I’m making a lot of plants, and terrariums. People kindly donate plants, cuttings, succulents and herbs and seedlings. I create vessels – using everything from mismatched crockery to chipped vases to which I adhere things to; I love to experiment. Currently, I’m plating a bunch of baskets for plantings. Did you know you can even put towels into a concrete mixture and create a planter?
A lot of my ideas come from Pinterest. If a plate has a crack or a chip – I don’t see something to throw away; I see something to recycle or upcycle. I will glue something onto it or drill a hole into it to hang. From plates I make cake stands. My husband helps me when he can. He’s great at banging out dents in silver, which then I use to house plants.
I don’t see this as a job, it’s such a big bonus that what I enjoy doing is able to support such a deserving cause. The end of life is a special time, and if you can make that pathway better for people while doing what you enjoy, why wouldn’t you help? I was born and raised in Feilding and other people I’ve met through Hospice have become lifelong friends; they’re always welcoming. I work at a desk just behind the counter – I’ll sit there working away with a smile at my face when listening to all of the wonderful conversations around me.
When I consider what aroha means to me, I think of kindness. Thoughtfulness. There is too much unhappiness in the world and life is short – to put a smile on someone’s face means the world to me.”