Story by Rev Reuben B. Hardie
On 1 April, the inaugural team of Weekend Warriors arrived at 1207 Dominion Road, Mt Roskill ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Weekend Warriors is an offshoot of the Boys’ School and Girls’ School Year 8 and Parent Service Trips. The purpose is to bring together a team of willing students, parents and staff to help work on a local community project and see how much we can get done over a weekend.
1207 Dominion Road is the site of an exciting new venture of the Presbyterian Church. The plan is to redevelop the site as a community food hub, where those in need can access a food pantry, emergency food parcels, a community garden, pātaka kai, and basic family supplies. Food insecurity, or not having enough appropriate food, is an increasing problem in New Zealand, with approximately 10% of the population affected.
Stacy Colyer from GreensceneNZ, and Gary Nel, former parents of the Boys’ and Girls’ School students and “Service Trip legends” worked tirelessly in the weeks leading up to the trip to help us consult with community stakeholders about priorities, identify and match what was needed with what we could deliver, undertake quantity surveys and formulate detailed plans.
Our first Weekend Warriors trip was shared with the Year 8s in both the Boys’ School and Girls’ School in mid-March. There was no tropical island draw card, like other service trips. There was no time away promised. We weren’t even offering students a single period off school – and yet within 24 hours every available space on the trip was filled.
It never ceases to amaze me how much a group of like-minded parents and students can achieve together in a short space of time. By Sunday night we had pulled down two fences, dug 27 holes and built and painted two new boundary fences. We had broken up an old concrete path and laid a new one, we had planted two new gardens, cleared rubbish, trimmed hedges and spread mulch. Inside the community hall, we had pulled up old carpet, painted the floor and walls and erected new shelving for the new Foodbank.
This trip, like other service trips we have done in the past, is about a lot more than just hard work and building projects. Our students discovered how much fun it is to work together. They gained first-hand experience of using a hammer, a saw, and a paint brush. They learned about communities in need and what it means to make a difference. They worked shoulder to shoulder with their parents and witnessed the power and generosity of the Saint Kentigern community as so many of the resources we used were donated or offered at hugely discounted rates.
The character development that we saw in the students as they journeyed through the weekend was significant. However, perhaps best of all, is the new friendships forged – not just among the students, but among the parents. Most of them arrived on Friday night unsure of what the weekend will involve and who they will be working alongside. The sense of community and friendship created over the weekend was awesome, under the fire of hard work and a desire to do some good in the world.
We would like to offer our thanks to the Boys’ School Parents and Friends Committee for the brand-new Service Trailer that had its first run and was an outstanding addition. The service trailer is fully equipped with our tools, and it is branded with a whakatauki on one side; Me mahi tahi tātou mō te oranga o te katoa, and its English translation on the other, We work together for the well-being of everyone.
Look out for Weekend Warrior 2. It is on the way!