Wairoa volunteer given award for giving back

October 30, 2017

Sara Bird is a volunteer extraordinaire. From firefighting to swim coaching, she has spent years giving back to her community through the volunteer work she engages with in Wairoa.

Sara's generosity was recognised when she won the Skills Active Volunteer Development Award, which included a $500 Learning and Development Grant. This was presented at the Skills Active Industry Stakeholder Event, in Auckland, on October 27.

The award recognises those volunteers who give their time to support the community, and help shape the sport and recreation industry. It also acknowledges those who have committed to developing skills and knowledge within their organisation, as well as their wider community. 

Starting at 18 years old, Sara has been volunteering for more than two decades.

"The reason I started volunteering was because there are a lot of swimming coaches and instructors that had given time to me, and I had achieved a lot in my swimming career, so I just wanted to give back," Sara says.

Sara has volunteered her time over the years to a number of local clubs including: Wairoa Swimming, Wairoa Celtic Sports, Wairoa Athletics and Wairoa Basketball Association.

Her involvement with Wairoa schools over the years has included everything from helping people apply for sports funding for their kids, to coaching sports teams, right down to washing the rugby jerseys every Saturday.

Sara's current voluntary commitments include: planning and organising a charity boxing event; financial and secretarial work for Wairoa Celtic Sports; volunteer firefighting; and president and swimming instructor at the Wairoa Swimming Club.

"The reward for me is knowing that I am able to share the skills and knowledge that have been passed on to me," Sara says.

The award includes a $500 grant to support the winner's ongoing learning and development.

On top of all the volunteer work, Sara works fulltime as the manager at the Wairoa Community Centre.

She plans to use the grant to put her staff through qualifications in order to continue upskilling them.

"Winning the $500 is because of everybody else," Sara says, "so I will give it back.”

Sara manages over 20 staff at the Wairoa Community Centre, which is a wet and dry facility, incorporating a swimming pool, fitness centre, function rooms and gymnasium.

Since the centre has engaged with Skills Active they have registered over 75 people to undertake different qualifications, including lifeguard training, fitness, event management and more.

Sara actively promotes workforce development in her organisation, and is a Skills Active assessor, which allows her to further support staff development.

The Wairoa Community Centre is continuing their commitment to training and qualifying locals.

Their staff demographic reflects the community, with a high percentage of Māori. The next cohort of five lifeguards are all young Māori.

On top of Sara's individual award, Skills Active presented the centre with a $1,000 grant to support the qualification of the next generation of pool lifeguards in Wairoa, and encourage Māori achievement.

This grant acknowledges all the success that the Wairoa Community Centre has had this year, and to support them to continue their commitment to workplace training.

Ends

Media contact for Skills Active

Esther McLaren
esther@skillsactive.org.nz
0220 371 012

About Skills Active

Skills Active Aotearoa is the industry training organisation (ITO) for sport, recreation, exercise, outdoor recreation and the performing arts. We promote sport and recreation careers and workforce development, create world-class, nationally-recognised qualifications, and support workplaces to train staff.