Sam | Whangārei, Northland

“The most recent time I was proud of is working here at the Open Arms for Food Rescue 155, and it’s really touching, because I work with a lot of good people here and it’s an inspiration to work with these guys, as a volunteer and meeting different people in the community.

People come to this place with their different problems and that, and try and get themselves back on track. Besides the homeless and everyone, I’m not judging them, or anything like that, you just treat them as a person. Treat them how they are, and not letting them down, or anything like that. So, people who are homeless, that come in, I used to look at them like, oh my God what’s he doing here? But now I appreciate  just seeing them there, and just listening to what they say, and everything like that and treating them the same. Treat them as a human being, and don’t judge, or anything like that. Help them move forward, and make friends with them. They’ve got bad habits and I’ve got bad habits, but hey, meet them halfway and help them. 

A bit about myself. I’ve never been in this sort of place before. I’ve always worked all my life, I’ve travelled, and experienced a bit of life, and been out there. My trade is being a baker. I moved over to Australia when I was 25, went over there, got work, set myself up, had a family, had a good experience in life over in Australia. Before that I was born and bred in Whangārei, brought up in a little town called  Ōtangarei. Parents brought us up really good, how to be an independent, and everything like that in life, and we all got a bit of an education. I’ve got nine brothers and we all went our own ways, and got jobs, everything like that. I just had a bit of an experience, and a downfall when I came back from Australia, because I got deported, I was a 501, because I had a bit of trouble over there, and I’ve currently been back for three years now. I did find it a bit hard when I came home and tried to get on my feet again, and how I got to this place at Open Arms, is my mum works here, and that’s how I started to meet people and all that sort of stuff. What got me into volunteering, is I’ve got a mate named Rex, who is standing right next to me, now. He got me in here, because I was going off-track a bit, and I much appreciated what he had done for me, to get me into this place to help out the homeless in the community. I’ve been working as a volunteer for two months, and I find it really, really good, because Rex taught me a lot. He’s teaching me. So I appreciate that. He’s a really good help. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where I would be. I probably would have been in prison again, or maybe dead, but now it’s a learning path at the moment for me. 

It feels really good to help. I feel really happy, because ever since I’ve been back, sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m not. I was lost, but now, since my routine has changed, I feel real happy and, and I feel a lot of pride, because we’re helping out other people. Especially being in this venue here with Open Arms.

I’m getting back on track. Like getting out there and enjoying life, again. And getting myself better.”

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