Helping others . . . Geoff and Daphne Ellis started volunteering in Oamaru as a way to get to know the community. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

Moving and volunteering are part and parcel for Daphne and Geoff Ellis.

From Auckland to Invercargill, Mr and Mrs Ellis have moved eight or nine times, with a preference for smaller towns.

The longest they have spent in one place is 12 years.

When they move to a new city or town, their aim is to get involved and give back to the community – and volunteering is always the answer.

“You have to join things, like most places. They don’t come to you,” Mrs Ellis said.

When Mr Ellis heard his wife say “I’ve been thinking”, he knew they were off to a new place.

“I don’t say it quite so much any more, I just start organising,” Mrs Ellis said.

It has worked out well for the couple, as they have been together for 54 years.

Now living in Oamaru, Mrs Ellis is serving as president of Grey Power and the Oamaru Friendship Club. She is also the Oamaru Johnston/e Clan co-ordinator, and a Safer Waitaki volunteer.

Mr Ellis volunteers for Waitaki Community Patrol and Oamaru Steam and Rail.

They both volunteer as Age Concern visitors.

Helping other people was a big factor in what drew Mrs Ellis to volunteer work.

Visiting people for Age Concern, she loved hearing everyone’s special stories.

“And you hope your company will cheer someone up.”

It made quite a difference for people when they had someone from outside their family to talk to, she said.

With a fear of Covid-19 hanging in the air, there were many older people choosing to stay at home and not socialise.

And the people who needed help or company often did not actively seek it, she said.

“Most people don’t ask for help until they’re at the bottom of a cliff.”

Through her involvement with various volunteer groups, Mrs Ellis also saw how many struggled to find committee members. One year, she filled every committee role for a group, rather than see it dissolve.

People often assumed volunteering was a big commitment, but that was not the case, she said.

Although the couple had loved the five years they had spent in Oamaru so far, Mrs Ellis was not ready to settle down in one place just yet.

“I feel everybody’s here to learn,” she said.

“And when you feel you have learned what you can in one place or you want something new, you don’t just sit around for the next 20 years thinking about it. You actually do it.”

Volunteer South Waitaki senior co-ordinator Julia Rata-Te Raki said there was a good number of volunteers in the district Palmerston and Duntroon but she was always pushing for more to get involved.

This week is National Volunteer Week Rata-Te Raki paid tribute to all of the volunteers, such as Mr and Mrs Ellis, who played important roles in the community. Many large events would never happen without them, she said.

She was working with Waitaki secondary schools to encourage more young people to volunteer, and in September would host an event encouraging more people to volunteer for groups and clubs in the district.

“It’s just opening the door to let people know what’s going on.”

Next month, she planned to launch an award for Waitaki’s volunteer of the month and was looking sponsored prizes.

Additional reporting Kayla Hodge