Meet our Arohanui team: Jennie Lewer - Arohanui Hospice

Meet our Arohanui team: Jennie Lewer

Tree of Remembrance 2020 launched by Deputy Mayor, Aleisha Rutherford
December 3, 2020
Our Volunteers: Giving back to Hospice
February 26, 2021
Tree of Remembrance 2020 launched by Deputy Mayor, Aleisha Rutherford
December 3, 2020
Our Volunteers: Giving back to Hospice
February 26, 2021

Meet our Arohanui team: Jennie Lewer


Why visit a hospice shop? Find out from Arohanui Hospice Shop – Feilding’s manager, Jennie Lewer, who shares her deep affection for the Feilding community and what we’re able to accomplish by supporting our local Arohanui Hospice Shops.

What led you to your role at Arohanui Hospice Shops?
I’ve been with Arohanui Hospice for about a decade. The time’s gone so fast – it feels like five years, but it’s been 10! It all began when I was caring for a sick friend. I really liked the way hospice took care of her. When a job came up with Arohanui Hospice’s Palmerston North Shop, I decided to leave my career in real estate with the thought, “Yeah, that’s what I want to do – I want to help make money for hospice.”

Why should people consider visiting a hospice shop?
People should shop here because not only do they find interesting things at good prices but because it’s a positive shopping experience, largely because of the donations from our community –  people are incredibly generous. Our shop team – mostly volunteers – respect every item that’s brought in. We want to earn as much money as we possibly can for hospice while setting items at a reasonable price.

What’s the shopping experience like at the Feilding Shop?
Every day is different for both volunteers and customers, as our stock changes quickly. You’ll always find quality clothes, often designer wear. Heritage items arrive nearly every day. The collectible pieces and jewellery are impressive, and we’re really thankful to all of the people who donate them. There’s something for the entire family – from toys to bric-a-brac and furniture – everything from beds, and lounge suites to dining suites.

What’s a recent treasure?
A recent discovery that we’ve been thrilled to bits with? A nine carat Gate bracelet that we couldn’t wait to get onto the shop floor! We knew it would make a great gift for someone, while it’s at a sharper price than what you’d find at a jeweller.

Is Feilding a good place to shop for those who enjoy upcycling?
Here, we’re pro recycling and repurposing fabrics and furniture. We’re developing our craft section. So for all the sewers out there, we’ve got a lot of fabrics – we’re getting quite into our crafting!  A lot of people will come in and ask questions, such as how to upcycle. Upcycling starts with the right item and we have plenty. An old set of drawers repainted looks amazing. And the bonus is that the money you’ve spent goes to help the community.

What do you love about your job?
I love the volunteers. I love how they are so happy to give – we say they give the gift of time – which is awesome. Being part of a team is always inspiring as everybody comes together to raise money, and have a few laughs with a bit of fun!

What does every volunteer applicant need to know?
It’s an amazing feeling to give back to the community. We have two shifts – morning and afternoon – and the roles vary. You can look after the books, or handbags and shoes. You can sort clothing, serve at the counter, focus on window dressing – there’s variety. Plus, you’ve got other people around with a similar team spirit; it’s a wonderful place to make new friends.

What is something most people don’t know about hospice shops?
For us presentation is paramount. Volunteers generously make sure that we maintain our quality standards  – even if that means sometimes taking and item home and washing it, or ironing it. Sometimes items sit in people’s sheds, they bring them in and they think, “Ah, she’ll be all right. They’ll clean it up,” but you’ve got to have the resources to be able to provide quality items. And of course that’s where our lovely volunteers help out.

Is Feilding home?
I worked Palmerston for quite a few number of years, and came back to Feilding. Seeing the locals visiting the shop has been like a homecoming. They say “Friendly Feilding” – and it’s true! If someone needs help, the community rallies around. I like the fact that in Feilding everywhere you drive is five minutes, it’s not too fast a pace, and everybody knows everybody. My family’s here and when I’m not working, I’m spending time with my nine grandchildren – they’re all under seven years’ old so they keep me busy.

What inspires you?
One of my previous bosses said to me, “If you do what you did last year, you’re going to end up with the same results. So you’ve got to forever keep improving and challenging yourself.” And that’s what I try to do. You’re always learning from other people, so you never close off your mind or stop learning.

What is aroha to you?
Aroha is quite a special word. There is so much love and support needed in the world, and it’s free to give.