When it comes to volunteering, enthusiasm is a key attribute. It is something that can be found at any age, and it is generously found in the wide-ranging spectrum of ages of the volunteers at Bellyful Christchurch. The youngest volunteer is 30 and the eldest is 81. In fact, Bellyful Christchurch boasts two octogenarians, both of whom celebrated birthdays this past October.
Collectively, Carole Anderton (pictured far left) and Daphne van der Meys’ (pictured to Carole’s right) ages total 161, and have given 10 years of service to the branch.
They have both spent time at Cookathons, delivering meals, helping with fundraisers and community awareness. These days, Daphne sticks to deliveries while Carole is still involved wherever she is able, so long as time allows.
Both cite the flexibility that Bellyful allows, that gives them the opportunity to fit in volunteering in between grandchildren and family, friends and relaxing, something that is well deserved when one is 80 or 81 respectively.
“You can do as little or as much as you want, it’s really suitable at this stage of life,” Daphne says.
She recounts some of her more memorable deliveries, mostly to families still finding their feet after having a baby. They are always very grateful when Daphne turns up at their door. She likens Bellyful to being a form of extended family in the community. “The help Bellyful offers is open to anyone who needs it. No one is more important than anyone else. By giving these families meals, we give them a night or two off from having to cook dinner.”
Having raised her own family in a close-knit rural community, Carole sees that families ‘in town’ don’t necessarily have the same wraparounds that she might have had. She’s “always cooking anyway”, and when she saw an ad in a local newspaper asking people to volunteer and cook with Bellyful, she knew it would be a good fit.
“At first I thought we were going to cook meals at home, but doing it all together as a group is better.”
In Christchurch, Cookathons are held once a month on Saturday mornings in the Food Technology kitchen at Christchurch Boys High School. It’s been the established basecamp for the branch Cookathons for many years.
“It makes you get out of the house to join in with a group of people you might not usually socialise with,” says Carole.
Daphne adds a similar thought “It’s a nice group of people, lots of fun and a group that is warm and open to new volunteers.”
Daphne who turned 81 had more of a lowkey celebration this year but had a large party last year with all her family. At the time of talking to Carole, she had a week of festivities ahead of her as visitors rolled in from around the country for two exclusive events, one for friends and one for family.
It was clear from speaking to them that service to families in their community is at the core of their desire to volunteer. Neither of them seemed to have any plans to slow down soon.
“I feel that volunteering for Bellyful is a very enjoyable way to be involved with the local community at any age,” says Daphne.
“You always have something to offer, no matter what your age,” says Carole, “If you’ve got two arms and two legs and a working mind then do it, help someone else out!”
Words by Tamara Bisseker
Images kindly supplied