Volunteering is not only a passion for Rotary Satellite Club of Ōrewa-Millwater chair Tracey Johnson, but it is the reason she moved to NZ.
Tracey, 48, and her husband, Murray, sold their house and computer business in Canada after a client suggested they use their skills overseas through Tandem Ministries, a Christian volunteering organisation. Their two sons were aged three and four at the time.
“We were very comfortable in Canada, so we decided we needed a challenge and a fresh start,” Tracey says.
After completing their two-and-a-half year service with Tandem Ministries, the Johnsons decided to stay. They have now been in New Zealand for 12 years and currently live in Millwater.
“When you come from another place it is very easy to stay in your own bubble,” Tracey says. “You really have to put yourself out there, and volunteering is a really great way to do that.”
Tracey has been the chair of the Rotary Satellite Club of Ōrewa-Millwater for almost two years now, a role she juggles with being a part-time teacher-aid and support worker.
She says being a satellite group, the Ōrewa-Millwater Rotary has more freedom to decide how the group is run compared to other Rotary clubs.
They have chosen a more flexible schedule, only meeting twice a month for an hour, and not providing the usual Rotary meal, to reduce fees.
“Flexibility is key,” Tracey says. “We have really open communication with the group through Facebook which helps us organise events in a way that is convenient for members, especially parents.”
This may have contributed to the group’s diversity, as their 21 members are aged 30 to 60 years-old and are 70 percent female.
Tracey says her favourite part of her Rotary role is giving back to others, particularly the smaller community groups such as Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.
Her sons, who are now aged 14 and 15, also help at the fundraisers.
“I want to show them what it’s like to give up their time for others and that if you are capable and willing, you should give back to those in need. There is no need to be selfish with your time.”