Words ANGELA ROGERS 

“To provide practical opportunities for people to support one another so that lives and neighbourhoods are transformed” is Good Neighbour Trust’s mission, and sharing is a big part of this.

Firewood is one element of the local Tauranga charity that has five departments:

Food Rescue: Rescues food and redistributes to local charities and organisations.
Kitchen: Mentors students while learning practical skills in the kitchen.
Community Gardens: Volunteers grow food for the community.
Projects: Backyard blitz, firewood and small projects.
Whānau Care: Equipping families to thrive.

Neal Bennett, who has a background in joinery, saw the opportunity to put “boots in his faith” and join the organisation as firewood manager, a role he finds very rewarding, especially when you get to hear the stories of how lives are affected and changes are made.

While we have been well informed about the importance of insulation, many homes still don’t have it or are only partially insulated. Add to this many local families simply can’t afford to pay for constant heating of old and insufficiently insulated homes.

The World Health Organisation recommends a temperature of 18°C, high enough to protect people against the health effects of the cold. New Zealand’s heating is expensive and accounts for 30% of an average household budget. Good Neighbour’s Firewood Programme aims to help. Families working with a local agency are referred to the programme and then attend a firewood morning for just $40, receiving two cubes of firewood.

Heating that comes from the good old fireplace is an option that can be efficient and cost effective for families under our firewood programme. Trees are a renewable and sustainable heating source and firewood is a good eco conscious heating option, so long as it’s dry and burned hot in an authorised woodburner that meets the national environmental standards for air quality.

Families come together for a few hours on a Saturday morning with volunteer drivers to load a trailer of dry firewood and deliver it to their homes. They then return to the depot and load another trailer for another family and then join together to share morning tea.

Logs that are damaged or not suitable for export are rescued from the Port of Tauranga and transported to our depot for processing. Currently we have 200 cubes ready for distribution and it’s thanks to the generosity of a number of sponsors including Taylor Brothers, C3, Generation Homes, McFall Fuels, Spacewise Containers, Carmel Country Estate, Tyre Master and Trimax Mowing Systems. Together, their contribution helps keep the community warm and healthy.

We are able to offer families the opportunity to keep safe in their homes with smoke alarms for their homes thanks to a partnership with the local fire brigade who sponsor the smoke alarms and then install them for free.

We also partner with local businesses who send their staff to volunteer with Good Neighbour so they can experience first-hand the needs of the community and help ease a burden. This has many positive outcomes for staff to work with each other out of their normal working environment and see each other in a different light and to feel the rewards and achievements of what working together brings. Connecting with your community also creates a deeper sense of belonging.

Recently we joined forces with Preston Rowe Paterson Property Valuers for their second annual volunteer event. Alex Haden, managing director, shares their experience:

“We value the place we live, the community that comes with it, and a chance to get out of the office with the team.
Overcast skies couldn’t dampen our spirits as we joined forces in front of the Good Neighbour depot. Everyone set out with instructions for the morning’s tasks, and as they say, many hands make light work.

It was an absolute blast, and we love the opportunity to work alongside an organisation that aligns so well with PRP. Good Neighbour is consistently in the community, offering creative initiatives that are relevant to those in need.
After the event, we enjoyed an amazing spread prepared by the Good Neighbour chefs and Boys College trainees as part of their Food for Flatting initiative, teaching boys how to cook before they leave home.”

As the need in our community is ever-growing, we encourage anyone or any organisation to support Good Neighbour initiatives. Please get in touch with them to see how you can help.

If you would like to support the firewood programme or donate

Website – www.goodneighbour.co.nz – donate
Deposit into our account (see details below)

Bank A/c details: Good Neighbour Aotearoa Trust
Bank A/c: 02 0466 0313842 00
Reference: Your Name
Particulars: Donation

Good Neighbour is a registered charity CC49198, so if you would like to get your donation receipt please email us at office@goodneighbour.co.nz with your contact details.

THANK YOU FOR HELPING US MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN OUR COMMUNITY.

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