Helping the refugee's settle in Mid Canterbury - Volunteer of the Month Evan Glass

11 April 2023 | Articles

With a ready smile, a lived experience of engaging with other cultures and a passion for helping others Evan Glass was naturally drawn towards putting his hand up to being a Refugee Resettlement Volunteer. Evan is a Volunteering Mid & South Canterbury and the Hotel Ashburton Volunteer of the Month.

Serving the community has been something that has long been part of Evan’s life having volunteered with Lions previously and a significant number of years as a Justice of the Peace.

When the Refugee Resettlement programme put out their first call for volunteers, Evan put his hand up, a decision he doesn’t regret. He said his reward was seeing the smiles on the faces of the new Kiwi’s he works with especially the children.

While living in Christchurch, Evan and his wife, Heather were volunteers with English as a Second Language and he worked intensely with students helping them gain more English Language skills, he really enjoyed this volunteering.

Many years ago, Evan joined a locally organised tour to India and while there undertook several days volunteering. He and other guy on the tour worked with street boys to help them get into appreciates to meet a growing need for motorcycle mechanics. He knows at least of the boys took up the training, and this gave Evan a rewarding feeling knowing he helped change someone’s life.

Evan’s role is to help families settle into a new life, one day it could be helping one of the young people get a licence, find a job, another day it could be taking a family to the pool or Christchurch. There is great flexibility in the role of being a Refugee Resettlement Volunteer as the volunteer can work as much or as little as they like and the tasks, they fulfill depends on what each family needs and these needs do change as our new Kiwis gain more knowledge and confidence.

Each family have a group of volunteers supporting them in different ways, so the volunteers can offer their services for as much time as the have available as the families aren’t solely reliant on one person, so this volunteer role works well for those in paid employment as well as those with more hours on their hands.

Evan feels a bit lonely in his volunteering as not many men put their hand up to be a Refugee Resettlement volunteer and he would really like other men to join him. For Evan and I am sure for all those who volunteer in this very rewarding role, they do form close attachments with the families learning so much for them as well as giving to them. He had one family where the boys asked if they could call him “Dad”.

Evan gets passionate when he talks about seeing his families grow, learn new skills, take up new opportunities. He comments that this community has warmly welcomed our new Kiwis and helped them feel part of the community and with the volunteers like Evan alongside them they are getting to experience everyday life in Mid Canterbury.

Image from Ashburton Courier