By PSS | Posted: Saturday January 20, 2018
Mataura woman Maree Gorman is making the most of early retirement and opting to give back to her community as a volunteer for the Buddy Programme.
When the retired teacher saw a post on Facebook about the Buddy Programme and its need for more volunteers, Maree was instantly sold.
The programme matches trained volunteers with a child in the community who could do with some additional one on one adult support in their life, and Maree saw an immediate fit.
“I had taken early retirement from teaching, I had the time and it just felt good to be doing something nice and making a difference,” she said.
Maree was matched with a seven-year-old girl, the middle child of three girls; each who were involved with the Buddy Programme.
“The first meeting we had was at her family home – she and her sisters live there with their Dad – and with Lorraine Marston (the Gore Buddy Programme Coordinator). I met my Little Buddy, we did puzzles and just chatted, I found out what her interests were, chatted to her father, and then we worked out a day and time that suited us both to catch up.”
The pair now meet each Tuesday and take part in a wide range of activities. Often they will spend time on Maree’s farmlet in Mataura, petting the lambs and calves, they may bake, or they will head into Gore and enjoy an outing to the park or the library.
Over what has been close to a year Maree has noticed a huge difference in her Little Buddy.
“I’ve seen a big increase in her confidence. She was very reserved at the start, but now she’ll talk about a whole range of different things. We set some expectations at the start which I think really helped and we just get on so well.”
“She is well looked after and loved – it is a very loving family and she has a wonderful, wonderful father; he does everything for his daughters. They don’t have a lot of other family nearby, so it’s just about having someone else in her life that she can trust.”
Lorraine says there is a real shortage of Big Buddies in the Gore area – particularly men – and, with a waitlist of Little Buddies, she encouraged anyone interested to make contact.
Big Buddies underwent initial training and were supported throughout the process. What, when and where they met their Little Buddies each week was up to the buddies to determine.
“It’s only a couple of hours each week, which might not be much out of your own life, but it can and does make a huge difference in a child’s life.”