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Volunteer finds family at the resource centre

Masterton’s Resource Centre has a new star worker.

James Haeata, 32, was new to Wairarapa and didn’t have much of a foundation in the area until he started working at Masterton’s Resource Centre three months ago.

Now Haeata, who has special needs, works with centre volunteer Maree Hutchby to upcycle old t-shirts into garden ties and bags to be sold.

Due to the inundation of t-shirts that the centre was receiving, Hutchby said the centre wanted to come up with something to avoid sending them to landfill.

“We’re doing a bit of recycling, and it’s all about the t-shirt,” she said.

“This all would have gone to the landfill, and these ties would have been otherwise thrown out.”

The ties Hutchby is referencing are balls of fabric made from strips cut from the spare t-shirts and used in the garden to prop up plants.

Hutchby, who has been volunteering with the centre for six months, said Haeata is picking up new skills and settling in well.

“When I leave, I just leave James a project like this going on and he’s good as gold.”

Haeata has nothing but praises to sing about his new workplace.

“I like socialising, and the people here are very nice,” he said.

“I love it here. Everyone is kind and I love the team.”

Centre manager Trudie Jones said that Haeata has settled right in to his new role after recently relocating to the region to live with his niece.

“He’s excellent,” she said.

“His family have noticed an immense change in his persona, happiness, sense of purpose, and looking forward to doing something each day.”

Jones has also helped Haeata map out a route to the local gym, so he can now make his own way there after his shift at the centre.

“I just pointed out landmarks and signs to him the first few times we went there – now he’s good to go there on his own,” she said.

“We take the time to make their life happier because there aren’t agencies out there prepared to do that anymore.”

Jones said she knows the value of having a routine and the importance of the support of a work team.

“You should have seen his eyes when we gave him a work sweatshirt – he was so happy to be part of the team,” Jones smiled.

“It’s the community, it’s people to have morning tea with, it’s having a space somewhere.”

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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