MenzShed Kāpiti - Foodbank Project - Volunteer Story Comp 2022

MenzShed Kāpiti is a place where men come together to share their skills and experience and “do what men do”. The Shed started in Kāpiti in 2010 with a small group of members and some very basic facilities, but with a clear goal of working to foster men’s health and welfare and to contribute to the community.

The Shed has come a long way since then. We now have some 150 members and supporters and between 45 and 60 men come along to the Shed each day we open, rain or shine, to share in the fellowship and to contribute to a wide range of projects.

In the 2020-21 year, MenzShed members contributed more than 14,000 hours of community service to the many projects we undertook. Most of our activities are on our site in Rangihiroa St in Waikanae Beach where members themselves have built an impressive complex of workshops and most recently our new MenzShed Centre, a multi-purpose disability friendly meeting space. A further large open plan workshop is being built now and that should be ready to open early next year.

From time to time, MenzShed responds to requests from Community organisations to assist with larger projects on that organisation’s own premises. Over the years that has included large projects at schools and pre-schools, and for organisations like the Kāpiti Marines Trust, the Cancer Society, and Volunteer Kāpiti. Those projects have used the building and organising skills of our guys to renovate buildings and create better environments for the children, employees and volunteers involved.

Our most recent and the largest project has been to assist the Kāpiti Community Foodbank to create a new home of their own. After operating out of several sites in Kāpiti and being moved out of the Kāpiti Community Centre when that building was forced to close, the Foodbank decided to establish their own premises and their committee reached out to MenzShed for support.

Our first task was to assist Foodbank to fit out temporary premises at Coastlands and to help them move in. This included taking down and reassembling shelving, moving appliances and stock and creating a kitchen for their team and an office/interview space for the Foodbank Manager. All that work was done to tight timelines as the community centre was deemed to be unsafe and the shift was urgent.

While that move was being completed, Foodbank was fundraising and planning for their permanent home on a leased site in Hinemoa Street Paraparaumu. Their objective was to provide a stable base for Foodbank in Kāpiti and to ensure their operating costs were minimised. To that end, Foodbank purchased a former double school classroom building in late 2021 and this was moved onto site just before Christmas. Our guys assisted with the planning work for the move, site preparation and then undertook the refurbishment needed to convert the old school building to the high-quality home the Foodbank deserves.

The MenzShed Committee agreed to assist Foodbank with this project even though we already had a full programme of projects, including building our workshop underway. We recognised that the Foodbank is such an important community resource and that it was an opportunity for volunteer organisations to collaborate and work together to achieve great outcomes for our community.

Our MenzShed team working on the Foodbank project has been led by Cliff Daly and Trevor McIntyre from the beginning. Once the Foodbank was established in their temporary site, work began on the refurbishment in early 2022. Since then, a team of 5-12 volunteers has been on site for 3 days a week, between 5-7 hours a day depending on the work required, meaning that the team has contributed a minimum of 100 hours of service each week since the start of February.
Our team has stripped out the internal framing and linings and is building all the facilities the Foodbank requires for their work. New windows, doors and firewalls have been fitted and a new veranda, decking and ramps are being built to ensure easy public access and accessibility for disabled users.

Foodbank is planning to be in their new home by the end of July and our volunteers are working hard to make this happen. It has become a very large project, probably much larger than initially expected and the core team of builders have devoted time, energy and skills far beyond what would normally be expected of volunteers. They have been well supported by other volunteers from our lager MenzShed team and others from the Foodbank and community groups too. Once finished, the new Foodbank building will be a real asset to the Kāpiti Community for many years to come.

What makes the volunteer or team of volunteers special?

From the day MenzShed Kāpiti was formed we have worked as a team to support community projects whether that meant helping individuals or community organisations. We are not only up to the challenge we deliver what we set out to do. This is achieved through comradeship, teamwork and using the many skills and talents that our members bring with them.