When it comes to supporting our community, Caroline Blacklock is all about making a conscious impact in her role as manager of Arohanui Hospice Shop – Levin. Here, Caroline shares how you can help others by volunteering, donating and shopping.
I used to be a nurse, which gave me insight to how supportive hospice is to people within the community. I experienced hospice’s services first-hand when my dad was in hospice care. Hospice made such a difference to my dad’s quality of life, and I realised how valuable hospice services are to both a patient and to a patient’s family. If you have a question, you can phone them up and they answer you. If you need help with medications, they are there for you. For all kinds of support – hospice is always available.
Experiencing hospice made me want to give something back, which is what eventually led me to applying for a role at Arohanui Hospice Shops – Levin. I’ve been working here for three years now, and honestly, you get to meet some truly amazing people: our volunteers; our customers. You get to start each day knowing you’re doing something positive within the community; it feels good.
A lot of people think that hospice gets the whole of their funding from the government, and hospice doesn’t; a lot of funding comes from fundraising, as well as from hospice shops. Whether you’re donating items or shopping at hospice shops, you’re helping make it possible for people to access care and support within the community. Every dollar that’s made goes straight back to helping patients and their families/whanau within our local region.
Hospice shopping is popular for those who enjoy the thrill of the chase. We’re in a unique spot too – Levin is a popular op shop trail for those travelling up from Wellington. Our floor items are always changing. For example, bric-a-brac comes through the door as a donation, it goes out on the floor to sell, and once it’s sold it goes back out the door again. And when it comes to clothing, you can find designer dress for $40.00. Where can you get a designer dress that’s affordable? The other day two generous ladies donated an art deco vase by potter Ernest Shufflebotham – it had been their mother’s – and it was absolutely beautiful. From linens, to furniture, we really appreciate every item that’s donated, as do all those who shop here.
Our volunteers keep every day interesting and fun – everybody is friends with each other, that’s the best part. There’s a lot to share, and the depth of knowledge our volunteers have is phenomenal. Whether someone has two hours or twenty to give to as a volunteer per week, people are able to help out in various ways from serving customers at the counters or by sorting clothing. But there are also generous people who contribute from outside the shop – for example, a lovely lady makes handmade cards for us to sell. There’s a lot that happens behind the scenes that is important to what we do. For instance, if a table comes in and it’s got little marks on it, a volunteer will take it home and fix it up – going as far as even French polishing it.
If I’m not at the shop, I’m often either knitting, quilting or reading to unwind and relax. I moved to the area more than 20 years ago, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else. The region has its own micro-climate, the people are friendly with open hearts.
What is aroha to me? Love, family and support – given and returned in spades.