Meet Our Volunteers

Bellyful has hundreds of volunteers cooking and delivering meals and fundraising in 25 communities around New Zealand – from Auckland’s Hibiscus Coast down to Invercargill. We are highlighting some of these wonderful volunteers and the work they do, as they explain in their own words why they give their time to Bellyful.

Meet: Sarah Gardiner

Bellyful North Waikato Fundraising Coordinator


Tell us about yourself and your family?

My husband Blair and I have three boys – Corey 14, Taylor 12 and Kyle 7. We own a dairy farm just out of Huntly.

What made you volunteer with Bellyful?
I had been volunteering for Plunket on the North Waikato branch for many years as chairperson and gave this up once my boys all started school. My friend that I’d meet through Plunket when our 14-year-olds were a few months old got involved with Bellyful so I just joined along with her.

What do you most love about volunteering?
I love helping other people out and making people smile.

How has COVID-19 impacted you?
Hasn’t really affected us as hubby had to keep working.

Meet: Tracey Marvin

Bellyful Nelson Volunteer Coordinator


Tell us about yourself and your family?

My 13-year-old daughter and I live in Nelson with our lazy but loveable Labrador, having moved off our farm four years ago.  Having some more time available, I wanted to do some volunteer work.

What made you volunteer with Bellyful?
Sarah Kerby, our amazing Branch Coordinator, was setting up our Branch two years ago.  Her positive energy and the solid and established ethos of Bellyful made the decision to give Bellyful some of my time, an easy one.

What do you most love about volunteering?
The culture of Bellyful with well-structured support makes the organisation feel like you are contributing to a sustainable cause that will be around for a long time.  Our volunteers and supporters in Nelson are amazing and constantly display the kind heart that makes provincial New Zealand really special, not only doing the core Bellyful mahi but also helping where needed.

How has COVID-19 impacted you?
Loved lockdown overall.  First week was trying especially knowing others, such as my elderly parents and kids with schoolwork, were struggling.  I found it a bit isolating too but as we settled down, the peace, quiet and pace was great.  Like a lot of people, lost some weight at the beginning but by the end, the Covid calories visited…

The clean air and birdsong were the most memorable aspects of lockdown for me.  I have heard it suggested that regular mini lockdowns would save the planet … sounds appealing to me.

I think a lot of us will have adjusted incomes as a result of Covid and we will ‘cut out cloth’ to cope.  I think we are lucky to have a socially responsible government and supportive community.

Meet: Tinne Geens

Hamilton volunteer, former Hutt Valley Branch Coordinator


Tell us about yourself and your family?

I am Tinne and moved to New Zealand about 2.5 years ago on my own. So even though I don’t have any “actual” family in New Zealand, I have a wonderful group of friends who I now consider family. These are all lovely people who I have met while working and living in New Zealand and they have all made such an impact on my life. My family back home in Belgium is small, but I am very close to them, even while living on the other side of the world. My little family in Belgium consists of my mom Ria, my dad Bart, my sister Sara and her boyfriend Jelle and their lovely little son Ferre, who is now 10 months old already.

What made you volunteer with Bellyful?
I have always wanted to give back to a community in New Zealand as this is my way of giving back to a country that has given me so much. It is also a great way to make some new friends and get to know more people in the place that is now my home.

What do you most love about volunteering?
I am very much a giving kind of person and try to help everyone around me. I love that by volunteering for Bellyful I help strangers who I have never met and make a (little) difference in somebody’s life.

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