We Couldn't Do This Without You

Did you know that Aviva benefitted from 7,943 hours of GIFTED time last year? In recognition of their dedicated service, two of our fabulous volunteers, Renata Hopkins and Bev Shepherd, received Volunteer Recognition Awards from Volunteer Canterbury on 17 June 2019.

“There were so many volunteer groups that I’ve never heard about. It was amazing,” says Bev. “I felt slightly embarrassed because I was like, why am I  getting this award? I said to the other volunteers in the team that the award was really for all of us,” Renata explains.

Renata Hopkins and Ruth Dyson
Renata (left) and Ruth Dyson MP at awards ceremony.

Bev and Tania
Bev (right) and Aviva staff member Tania at the awards ceremony.

Renata joined Aviva’s Sexual Assault Support Service Canterbury (SASSC) as a volunteer almost a year and a half ago. Renata’s mother had been a  volunteer for Aviva when it was still a women’s refuge, creating a natural interest for her. She often works the overnight shifts for the 24/7 SASSC helpline. “Sometimes you just have to get up, put your clothes on and go," she says, describing her latenight shifts supporting people at medical examinations.

As a freelance writer, Renata has plenty of experience speaking with people about their stories. She brings those skills to her work with SASSC. “You’re there to listen and help in whatever way you can, even if that’s just making a cup of tea,” she says. “I’m always amazed by how brave and strong people are, despite the traumatic experience they’ve been through.”

Bev has been working as an administrative volunteer at Aviva for almost three years. After she retired, she immediately turned around and said, “It’s time to give back to the community.” Bev does everything – filing, copying, cleaning, picking up donations, refueling cars. Her supervisor Tania Kitto says, “She is always willing to go above and beyond with a smile and willingness. We are so grateful to have such a willing, efficient, flexible volunteer of time and tasks – a volunteer extraordinaire!” Bev explains, “You do it because you want to help out. And for your own mental health. Giving is really good for your own mental health.”

Bev recalls her own experience overcoming domestic violence and being reliant on her grandmother to take her in. At the time, refuges and family violence services were not as prevalent as they are now. When she first started looking for volunteer opportunities, she knew she wanted to support family violence services and make sure the people going through similar situations have the support she did not. “It’s a worldwide issue,” she elaborates. “I’ll stay here as long as they want me. I really enjoy it. I can’t think of any reason I would leave unless they don’t need me anymore.”

Aviva relies on the generosity of caring individuals like Renata and Bev to play an active part in their community by gifting their time, skills, and energy to help others. If you are interested in volunteering with Aviva, there are several ways. You can volunteer regularly like Renata and Bev, or just for one-off projects. To find out more, contact [email protected].

“Get started! It’s a great place to come and volunteer!”  - Bev.