Two Salvation Army Napier Family Store volunteers have been working hard but also playing hard at tenpin bowling in the Special Olympics around the country. Hope Burmeister reports.
Volunteer John Brewer lives in Napier and has worked at the Napier Family Store for almost two years, two days a week—Tuesday and Friday.
His main tasks are sorting out donations and pulling apart boxes and folding them down. He also often goes out as a truck assistant to pick up furniture donations.
John previously volunteered at a Family Store when he lived in Taupō, so was keen to keep volunteering when he moved to Napier.
He said his favourite parts of volunteering are ‘meeting and greeting people nicely. Being part of The Salvation Army and being with these people because they’re like a family to me’.
When he first started, John was less talkative but has grown in confidence as he’s become more comfortable. He hasn’t ever felt he had a place to belong, but now sees the Napier Family Store team as his family.
Outside of volunteering, John enjoys tenpin bowling, especially competing in the Special Olympics. His recent achievement was winning a third place trophy in tenpin bowling, with team member Fran, at Hastings Super Strike.
He met Fran and her dad, who is a coach for the Special Olympics, when he moved to Hawke’s Bay. John and Fran then decided to form a tenpin bowling team.
He has been competing with Fran in tenpin bowling for a few years now, and they have become top players as a team.
The two of them compete against other teams of two. Their final score at the recent competition was impressive, well over 200, earning them third place.
It was a proud moment for John when he received his trophy: ‘I was so emotional to see a trophy in my hands. I was proud of it because it’s a good achievement for me’.
Although he’s won many trophies and ribbons for tenpin bowling, he said he isn’t always perfect: ‘Sometimes I’m really good and sometimes I can have bad days, so I can get gutters quite a bit’.
In preparation for the Special Olympics, he was trained by a coach to improve in tenpin bowling. Although he was nervous when he first started competing, he never gave up.
‘I was a little bit nervous, because in my first game I just bowled it off to the gutter and everybody said, “Come on, come on, you need to do better than that”. I didn’t give up and I just kept on going.’
John first started competing in Rotorua and then Hawke’s Bay. He now travels all around New Zealand and went to six tournaments in 2022.
He has won ribbons and trophies for tenpin bowling before, but said he hadn’t won a trophy in some time. From competitions, he’s received 16 first placings, along with 16 third and fourth placings.
But one of the best things he ever received was his own bowling ball, gifted on his fiftieth birthday in Tauranga, which he treasures most.
John’s future plans are to go to the next tenpin bowling national competition. He has competed in nationals in previous years when they were held in Dunedin, Wellington and Marlborough.
Volunteering and bowling
John’s team member Fran Morgan also lives in Napier and has been volunteering with Napier Family Store for seven months. She started volunteering after being told by John and others what a great place it is to work.
She volunteers on Tuesdays and Thursdays, doing various tasks such as cutting up boxes, greeting customers who drop their goods at the back and sorting out donations to see if they’re saleable. She’s always happy to do whatever needs to be done.
For Fran, the highlights of volunteering at the store have been meeting customers, working hard and meeting her bosses, Team Leader Mary Cooper and Store Manager Fiona Kelsen, whom she gets on well with.
When she’s not volunteering, she is tenpin bowling in competitions with John. She said she has been tenpin bowling for years, and most enjoys having fun and playing against others in competitions.
Fran’s goal is to win lots of medals and she is hoping for a first place award at the next national competition.
A winning Family Store team
Both Mary and Fiona are proud of John and Fran’s achievements and grateful to have them on their Family Store team.
Mary emphasised how wonderful it is to have reliable and hard-working volunteers like John and Fran. She said, ‘When we get somebody who is a stayer and a keeper, you can guarantee they’re going to turn up, and they look forward to coming here just as we look forward to having them’.
Fiona also explained how important it is for Family Stores to be places where everybody can belong: ‘John tells me that he’s never been looked after or welcomed like he has at The Salvation Army. For someone who has lived that many years in the community, it has taken that long to find somewhere where he belongs and who values him. I mean without them, we can’t do what we do, we really can’t.’