Being in Lockdown was a difficult period of time for Jean Moeke. She had been on a cruise ship in Australia when it became evident that a pandemic was developing. After contracting a virus onboard, Jean found herself in isolation for several weeks before the rest of the nation joined her in the five-week Lockdown. This kind of downtime doesn’t come naturally to Jean. For many years she had been involved in the community alongside her husband Dene who had an aptitude for helping out young people. Their lives included helping out at schools and supporting various sports. After Dene’s passing Jean found that despite her full-time work her life felt empty and depressing.
It was a chance encounter with a Gisborne Volunteer Centre fundraising project that compelled Jean to go down to the Volunteer Centre to register. The volunteering roles that followed brought a whole new set of people and experiences to her life, bringing her a sense of purpose and accomplishment again.
“It changed how I felt about myself. It’s a positive thing to learn about all of the great things that were happening in Gisborne. The people I met through volunteering were just so nice. My son and family were proud of all the things I was doing and that felt great. I got my spark back.”
Jean describes the experience of feeling wanted and achieving something. Her skills were recognised and she gained confidence in her ability to adapt to new experiences. From directing traffic in a street parade to helping out with catering Jean was always the first to sign up as a volunteer. She was really enjoying her weekends and evenings volunteering and her life felt full.
COVID-19 had a huge impact. The isolation was difficult for Jean, the lack of social contact made her feel totally lost at times. She found the restrictions in place caused her to focus on the things that she couldn’t do, and found herself slipping back to the way she had felt before volunteering had become a part of her life. The different volunteer roles that she had experienced and renewed sense of purpose had helped her to find herself again, as she adjusted to life without her husband.
“Volunteering is the fun stuff I do that makes me feel good. I miss it so much.” shares Jean. While it was hard not to be able to do those things for a prolonged period of time it gave Jean an insight into how volunteering helped her to really start living again. Now Jean is looking forward to reconnecting with the various organisations she supports and volunteering once more at the community events that she loves to be a part of. “Volunteering is the best thing that ever happened to me.”