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One person makes a difference

Amid much excitement on Wednesday, 21 August, Volunteer Nelson was delighted to award The Car Company Community Champion Award to Alan Kissell one of Menzshed Waimea’s founding members and intrepid volunteer.

Alan, the Menzshed coordinator, is no stranger to volunteering and in fact earlier this month received Age Concern’s Supreme Age Connect Champion Award for 2019 on behalf of Menzshed Waimea. Menzshed also received nominations for the Intergenerational Champions Award and the One Person Makes A Difference Champion, where Alan was described as “the beating heart of the organisation!”

Alan operates Menzshed over and above his three mornings a week Technician role at Garin College where he maintains the machinery and helps prepare student materials.

“We selected Alan as a Community Champion just before the Age Connect event and it was great to see Menzshed recognised for the work they do. We held out celebrating until we could catch Alan and George at the shed with their colleagues and the diverse groups of volunteers they mentor,” says Gordon Oldfield, Manager of Volunteer Nelson.

George Inglis, co-founder and colleague, who nominated Alan for the Volunteer Nelson award describes Alan as, “the most community minded person I have ever worked with.”

Alan, who was a builder for 20 years among other roles in his working life before retirement in 2003, works with IHC members teaching new skills, does Hospice building repairs , manufactures Cancer Society wig stands, mentors Justice Department trainees, and takes on various community and school projects. He also more recently has been helping new migrants find their vocation through the Volunteer Nelson migrant volunteering programme and also helped find 10 jobs for those from a previous Red Cross volunteering intake.

Alan helped open Menzshed Waimea’s doors six years ago after he ran with an idea discussed at an Age Concern event. “I thought it was great to open a shed that saw potential in people and could use the skills of the guys to support the community,” says Alan.

Asked what he enjoys most about volunteering at Menzshed, Alan says without a doubt, “the Camaraderie and people! They have incredible talent and the opportunity to keep them active, using their skills and knowledge and passing these on to others, is priceless!”

“It’s rewarding to work with people to help put something back into the community whilst avoiding social isolation, especially after retirement. People, especially men identify with their working roles and need to know when they retire that they are not just ‘pensioners’. They still have their skills and broad experience and can put that back into the community and teach others.”

Alan and George say they don’t know the word No. “We find a way to make things work for community needs.” So if you need help with some or other project or would like to get involved at Menzshed Waimea, get in touch. There are also many other volunteering roles, including for those 60+, new migrants and people with disabilities. Find out more by visiting and signing up / in (top right of screen) or calling 03 546 7681.

More Photos… Selfie alert!

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