Wairoa volunteer given award for giving back
October 30, 2017
Sara Bird is a volunteer extraordinaire. From firefighting to swim coaching, she has spent years giving back to her
community through the volunteer work she engages with in Wairoa.
Sara's generosity was recognised when she won the Skills ActiveVolunteerDevelopmentAward, which included a $500 Learning
and Development Grant. This was presented at the Skills Active Industry Stakeholder Event, in Auckland, on October 27.
The award recognises thosevolunteerswho give their time to support the community, and help shape the sport and
recreation industry. It also acknowledges those who have committed to developing skillsandknowledge within their
organisation, as well as their wider community.
Starting at 18 years old, Sara has been volunteering for more than two decades.
"The reason I started volunteering was because there are a lot of swimming coaches and instructors that had given time
to me, and I had achieved a lot in my swimming career, so I just wanted to give back", Sara says.
Sara has volunteered her time over the years to a number of local clubs including: Wairoa Swimming, Wairoa Celtic
Sports, Wairoa Athletics and Wairoa Basketball Association.
Her involvement with Wairoa schools over the years has included everything from helping people apply for sports funding
for their kids, to coaching sports teams, right down to washing the rugby jerseys every Saturday.
Sara's current voluntary commitments include: planning and organising a charity boxing event; financial and secretarial
work for Wairoa Celtic Sports; volunteer firefighting; and president and swimming instructor at the Wairoa Swimming
"The reward for me is knowing that I am able to share the skills and knowledge that have been passed on to me" Sara
The award includes a $500 grant to support the winner's ongoing learning and development.
On top of all the volunteer work, Sara works fulltime as the manager at the Wairoa Community Centre.
She plans to use the grant to put her staff through qualifications in order to continue upskilling them.
"Winning the $500 is because of everybody else", Sara says, "so I will give it back.”
Sara manages over 20 staff at the Wairoa Community Centre, which is a wet and dry facility, incorporating a swimming
pool, fitness centre, function rooms and gymnasium.
Since the centre has engaged with Skills Active they have registered over 75 people to undertake
differentqualifications, including lifeguard training, fitness, event management and more.
Sara actively promotes workforce development in her organisation, and is a Skills Active assessor, which allows her to
further support staff development.
The Wairoa Community Centre is continuing their commitment to training and qualifying locals.
Their staff demographic reflects the community, with a high percentage of Māori.The next cohort of five lifeguards are
all young Māori.
On top of Sara's individual award, Skills Active presented the centre with a $1,000 grant to support the qualification
of the next generation of pool lifeguards in Wairoa, and encourage Māori achievement.
This grant acknowledges all the success that the Wairoa Community Centre has had this year, and to support them to
continue their commitmentto workplace training.