P1140095-446-594People living with dementia were treated to an impromptu music session at the Chelsea Day Centre in Lyall Bay, Wellington recently. It was all part of a work day under a programme organised by Volunteer Wellington’s Corporate Challenge programme funded by Nikau Foundation.

Under the scheme, workers from approximately 30 Wellington companies and government agencies and ministries volunteer to work a day in the community. Hidden talents among the workers from ACC were revealed last week when 10 of their staff were given the day to help out at the Chelsea Day Centre. John  on the mandolin and Steve on guitar (below) along with another colleague met at ACC and formed a band. They treated Centre patrons to a series of popular music, including Dave Dobbyn and Van Morrison.

Toe tapping and singing along with the music was soon visible. Chelsea Day Care Manager Angela Gittings  said it was the first time she had used the scheme and the help was much appreciated. “I often work weekends but still some of the jobs just don’t get done.”

On their day at the Centre, the 10 ACC volunteers cleaned out sheds, took rubbish to the dump, trimmed trees, sorted filing and cooked for the service users. Judy Kerr, co-ordinator at Volunteer Wellington, said the Employees in the Community Programme was hugely successful and had been running since 2006. She said often the corporate volunteers have business skills that community groups can tap into. Judy also organises the long-term volunteering programmes.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of volunteering in the OECD and many projects would not be possible without people donating their labour. ACC team manager Shelly Wilton, who also attended the centre, said the ACC gives staff time out off the office to do something in the community. She said it was the first time her team had volunteered under the programme and they had given positive feedback about spending the day at Chelsea Day Centre. It had also taken the “weight off” the staff at the centre as the ACC volunteers had done jobs that would not otherwise have been done,  Shelly said.