Janine lives with her husband and has a keen interest in books. In fact, when Suse, Local Area Coordinator at Your Way | Kia Roha, first visited Janine at home, books were what they discussed first. Janine said Suse noticed her book collection straight away, and then Janine showed her the “little library” they have at home. At this time, Janine was at home most everyday – watching TV or reading books due to her health and mobility. Janine has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and has had varying health since her diagnosis 10 years ago.
Following that first visit, Janine and Suse began looking into volunteering opportunities. The local library seemed like a natural fit for Janine, with her interest in books and reading. After several emails, a meeting was setup at the library, and it was all go from there. Janine started volunteering in February of this year, going every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. Janine shared that on Tuesdays, she does tasks around the library like sorting out the newspapers and magazines and one of her favourite jobs is pulling apart the LEGO. On Thursdays she helps with a programme called Art Spot, which is a craft programme for children. She helps set up and does crafts with kids and then helps clean up.
Janine also shared that she feels well supported by the library, to make sure it is working for her. Janine can get sore from standing so usually needs to be seated to do her tasks, and the library has made this work. Janine said, “The manager has pulled me aside a few times and talked to me about what I’ve been doing and if it’s been ok for me, so they’ve been excellent.”
In June, for Volunteer Week, the staff put on a surprise morning tea for Janine, to thank her for her volunteering. They shared how much they appreciated her work and gave her some new Kiwiana bookmarks to mark the occasion. “They spoiled me, so that was really nice, and I feel appreciated.”
What’s next for Janine
Janine feels her time volunteering at the library is a great fit for her interests, as well as her health needs, while also giving her a sense of contribution and purpose in her weeks. She said sometimes it can take a lot out of her, “I only go for a few hours, two days a week, but at the moment I’m feeling like that’s enough. I definitely have to simplify my life these days, that’s for sure. You never know when you’re going to have symptoms.”
Reflecting on the support of Your Way | Kia Roha, Janine said, “Connecting me up with the library has been a good thing, it brought more structure to my day, because I was basically sitting around the house all day doing not much of anything. It has given me somewhere to go, a couple of days a week, and get in better habits, so it’s definitely been a positive thing.”
On what she would share with others, Janine said, “It is good to have help. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t ask for help and doesn’t like to ask for help, but I think understanding that you can ask for help and it’s ok. And when you get help – it’s a positive thing.”
Thank you, Janine, for sharing your story.