I have always felt it important to have one voluntary project on the go at any given time. Giving back, no matter in how big or small a way, is how communities thrive. If those who are doing well help those who are struggling our society is a much richer place.
I was influenced in this by my parents. They were (and still are) great contributors to the small town community I grew up in. They were on committees – school, church, sporting – and always had time to help someone who wasn’t doing so well on their own. This was in addition to working hard to raise (and fund) six children of their own. To this day they are still helping people. Both over 80, they take their turn at delivering Meals on Wheels to the “oldies”! When my mother broke her ankle earlier in the year and was very immobile she was still running the local Relief Network from her sick bed and organising food parcels for families who were out of work. To many belonging to my parents era this is part and parcel of living in a community.
My voluntary efforts largely revolved around my children’s activities when they were school age. When no-one else would take on the job of convening the local school Gala I decided that was something I could probably do, so I volunteered and enjoyed the role and contact with the school community immensely. The hardest part of that job was finding someone to take over when my children had moved on.
So when my business partner, Simon Ewing-Jarvie, and I established our company – TorquePoint – in 2012 we decided that we would earmark a percentage of our earnings for at least one voluntary initiative. We began by allocating a few of the places on our experiential learning programmes to NGOs who were doing great work but couldn’t afford the fees. Then, when Cyclone Winston hit Fiji in February 2016, Simon went over to see if there was any way we could assist with rebuilding a community. He found a family that needed help in a village badly damaged by the cyclone and our efforts have been focussed on Mataso Village since then. Our frequent visits and the goods we take with us are very much appreciated. We’re currently working with our adopted community to help them build a sustainable business venture. We’ve called our initiative ‘VillageTorque’ and we’re working on building a model that could be put in place after a natural disaster anywhere in the South Pacific. We’ve put together a short video to explain what we’re doing:
If you’d like to see more about our initiative have a look at our VillageTorque facebook page. We’re always keen to hear from anyone who would like to donate good quality goods (clothing, rugby boots, sports shoes) for the families in the village and computers, books and stationery for the local school. Every item helps and our Fijian families are extremely grateful for the assistance.