Congratulations to our good citizens!

Publish Date : 15 Mar 2024
Citizens awards
From left: Bronwyn, Rangi, and Shirley Rivers

In February we celebrated some of the outstanding community members in Waitematā at our Good Citizens’ Awards.

Waitematā Local Board runs these awards to acknowledge individuals, community groups and young people who make the area a better place to live.

One of the recipients, Bronwyn Owens from Methodist Mission Northern, the umbrella group which includes Lifewise, received 15 nominations. She is described in the nominations as an extraordinarily empathetic, caring, and kind person who consistently goes out of her way to support others with their needs in challenging times.

“My role is chaplain for Auckland city centre, but I work predominantly with our street whānau – rough sleepers and those in social housing. It’s pastoral support, and what that looks like is different for everybody,” says Bronwyn.

“I love the work I do; I know it’s not a job everyone can do, but it’s a calling for me. Coming alongside people that are struggling, even if it’s just listening to them vent because they’re so frustrated or upset.

"Sometimes if they can express that to someone who’s not going to judge them and is just going to listen, it’s actually very calming for them, and then they can start seeing a way forward.”

Bronwyn’s work is very varied, and no day is the same. One day she might be supporting someone at a court appearance or a hospital appointment, and the next she might be taking donated clothing down to Ellen Melville to set up a table on a Tuesday evening alongside ‘Community Kai’ night.

“Rough sleepers get priority for key items such as warm jackets and sleeping bags, but other than that, the table is available for anyone that is needing clothing – or if they’re needing anything in particular, they can come and talk to me and I’ll see what I can do to try and source it.”

She emphasises that our street whānau are all human beings worthy of dignity: “They’re worth a smile and a chat.”

Other award recipients were nominated for a whole range of reasons, and Bronwyn finds their efforts to make our community a better place inspiring. She gives a special shout out to her colleague Rangi who also received an award.

“Rangi is one of our long time volunteers up at Merge Café and gives about 35 hours each week. She is an incredible person and so deserving of this award and the recognition of her mahi,” says Bronwyn.

“She is hugely respected by the street whanau – they listen to her! Despite some personal challenges, Rangi is at the café every day, laughing and joking, and caring for everyone. She is amazing.”

Full list of recipients: Helen Geary, David Abbot, Esther O’Donnell, Danielle LeGallais, Jacinta Khiu, Carol Gunn, Rhoda ‘Rangi’ Honea Samuel, Brandon Wilcox, Shelley Jones, David Batten, Chris Severne, The Friends of the Fukuoka Friendship Garden, Good Baking Bitches, Aaiotanga Trust Community Space, Nancy Steen Garden Parnell and St Stephens Garden Cemetery volunteers.

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