Your official update from the Wellington Women's Boarding House committee. We can create a world where every woman has a safe place to call home.
Kia ora koutou,

So Autumn huh, where did that come from? Not to worry, the up-coming colder months don't need to be boring.

For instance, you could spend a few hours helping us run the Habourside Market’s car park for two Sundays in May; join our fundraising and communications committee; or if you want a real challenge we need new members for our management committee (more information on these volunteer opportunities can be found at the bottom of this pānui).

For some inspiration, we thought we would introduce Beth and Emma, our longest-standing volunteers to give you an idea about our team, what motivates them, and why volunteering at the house could work for you.

And, more importantly, because reading stories about feminists on a Monday is, just, cool. 

Just before we do, a quick shout out to Mechanical Tempest, Wellington's DIY Community Bike Workshop for fixing the house's bikes. It's great to have these working so that the women can use them. Wicked you guys!

Emma White - The Refuge Woman


Emma White, pictured above, has been a volunteer committee member since 2010.  She's preparing to roller stake, a hobby she does “poorly”.   

Women-centred volunteer work appears to be in Emma White's DNA. 

The self-titled third generation “Refuge Woman” (Emma, her mother and grandmother have all been Women's Refuge volunteers) found the Wellington Women’s Boarding House kaupapa a natural fit with her existing value system. 

“Feminism and actively doing women-centred work have a strong lineage for me and this is where a lot of my energy lies,” Emma says.

She happened upon the “little-known but excellent local resource” in the most gen-y of ways.

“I found it on Google when searching ‘women wellington’ - no joke,” she says.

Since (virtually) happening upon the house, she “just dove right in”. 

Porirua born with Canterbury roots, Emma describes herself as a “small-town, small-focus” person who likes “finite things that improve [her] community”.

On-top of her volunteer work for the house, Emma works part-time coordinating Restorative Justice in the courts, and delivering after-hours crisis support to survivors of rape and sexual assault.

However, it is not always easy.

"Working in the community sector, and particularly homelessness, is hard. Working for no money is even harder. And on top of that, working in ways which are honest, flexible, and collective makes things even more complex - but this is what it’s about,” she says.

“My unpaid work is my practical application of what my goals are, feminist or otherwise. Working for and alongside women to give us all some more options and freedom - that's what keeps the fire burning even when sometimes the work is unglamorous (painting) or boring (GST returns).

But her commitment to supporting women is the reason why Emma has remained on the committee for so long. 

It is also the stories of women arriving at the house with a lot going on and heavy loads, and leaving with more confidence, personal resource and strength, that is the “ultimate reward” for the hours she dedicates to the house.

"Most women, who come to us, are pretty isolated and a lot of their family relationships are broken down. There are lots where this is gradually mended, but one woman in particular who was able to patch up some pretty hurt relationships with her kids and family and ended up living with her daughter - this has always stuck with me,” she says.

Beth Houston - Supporting a space for women 


Beth Houston, pictured above, has been a volunteer committee member since 2011. Here she holds her son Angus.

Women claiming the place they want in the world is very important to Beth Houston, but she doesn't believe in the 'just lean in' theory. 

“We have to support each other and make space in the world for each other. So whenever I can, I try to support other women,” she says.

A self-confessed “bleeding-heart liberal” Beth joined the committee in 2011, when she was the campaign manager for the Campaign to Keep MMP. 

“One of the reasons I wanted to work for MMP is because it has been great for women's representation in the House [of Representatives],” she says 

“The election was drawing close, and I knew I would want something else to get stuck into, and I found an ad on a blog site for the Wellington Women’s Boarding House so went along to a recruitment meeting.”  

“The people there just spoke my language. I knew instantly I wanted to work with them.” 

So, after a successful campaign to keep MMP, Beth’s focus moved from female representation in the parliamentary House to a small house in Mount Victoria for women who are homeless or in transition.   

And she has enjoyed it.

“I like the work, I like the other women on the committee and I recognise the importance of the House for the women that live in it,” she says.
 
“I like to get stuck in, I like to be busy. I'm hugely motivated by work and getting stuff done. I know that I am making a difference and I guess I know that if I don't stick around - how can I expect others to contribute?” 

Brought up with women in her life who have believed she can achieve anything, in particular her mother, Beth sees her feminist practice as being about striving to help other women. 

“I am involved in politics so there are a number of young women that I try to support and make space for. It's not easy and sometimes I don't get it right, but I try to live by my intentions,” she says.  

Mahi Aroha 

Want to sit on the committee alongside Emma and Beth?
If you are inspired by, or feel akin to the wonderful women profiled above, why not find out more about what being on the house committee entails (and meet other committee members, who are equally as awesome). It is a big commitment, but also highly rewarding. To register interest and find out more please email wwbh.committee@gmail.com.

Communications, fundraising and marketing volunteers needed
Have you got fundraising, marketing, communications, events or organising experience? Or keen to learn some of those skills? We have written a fundraising strategy, so now we are looking for enthusiastic people to be on a working group to take the House's fundraising to the next level. Please let Emma Huntley know if you are interested, and your availability. Thanks for your consideration.

Harbourside market car park volunteers needed
We won the ballot to run the Habourside market car park (and keep a lot of the gold coin entry). It's next to the Sunday vege markets. We will be collecting the payment and directing cars on Sunday 4 May and Sunday 11 May. Why not help out before or after your usual weekly vege shop? If you are interested please email volunteer@wwbh.org.nz

Thanks for reading and supporting our mahi. Please forward to anyone you think may be interested in hearing from us. Have a wonderful week!
For more information on the Wellington Women's Boarding House go to wwbh.org.nz or contact manager Margaret Speirs on (04) 977-0453 or house@wwbh.org.nz.
 
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