Some WestREAP history….the 3 things that stand out at the end of the article align very much with REAP beliefs, culture and why and how we do what we do
From the latest Community Contact – South Westland’s long-running monthly newsletter
James Print Insert November 2017
THE BIRTH OF SOUTH WESTLAND’S COMMUNITY CONTACT
Once upon a time, in what now seems like a previous life, Community Contact was born in South Westland as the brainchild of Carrol Browne, Stasia Kennedy, Eve Nissen, Maree Maddock (Postill) and Jan Rawstron.
All of us were frustrated at missing out on some of the great opportunities that were happening in other places on the Coast and Eve as the REAP community Pre-school Worker (Hari Hari to Haast) was tasked with spreading the word that there was funding available to pay community education tutors if there were sufficient numbers to fill seats. So based on the South Westland Peace Network model, with a person or two in each of the townships, a network of Contacts was established to put out a local newsletter.
We came together monthly at each other’s homes, armed with a typewriter, our babies and pre-schoolers to share what was happening and did some community research to find out what people wanted in adult learning and support programmes. This of course led to using our considerable energies to also organize and promote events/courses in South Westland, which we usually attended as well!
Alpine Guides provided seeding funding and Westland REAP and COG’s were great supporters providing tutor fees for community education and funding to distribute the newsletters in an age before Facebook, cell phones or computers.
The first issues were printed on a geriatric Gestetner operating out of the Postil garage which was coaxed into life each month by Bruce Postil and produced 600 copies for distribution. Later printing moved to Whataroa thanks to Fr Kevin Foote and Fr Mike Pullar as we took over the presbytery to do our CC work. Eventually the printing was taken over by the Hokitika Guardian and for a short time Te Tai Poutini Polytechnic.
We alternated between a south and a north location to equalise travel. Over time, many more people joined the band of helpers either compiling or baby sitting or collating, including Glenys Black, Malcom Macpherson, Anne Molloy, Avis Muir, Joe and Vi Mullen, Marion Small, Kathleen Sullivan and Molly Sullivan to name but a few. However, our story would be incomplete without celebrating the great Brenda Monk who ensured our little newsletter went out regularly for almost 25 years when, after six years, all of the original five had moved on to other things.
There are a million memories associated with Community Contact.
Carrol remembers the first time we used a computer to compile the newsletter. She suggested it would be a great time saver to use her Commodore 64 and kind as ever Brenda said, “Sure, if you think it’s a good idea and will be faster why not?” That edition was put to bed at about 4 am!
At one point we agreed to do a survey of community needs which ended up as the bane of our lives. Jan recalls making many, many home visits here, there and everywhere to do face-to-face questions around local community needs. Foremost in Eve’s memory is stretching out on her living room floor over yards and yards of paper with Stasia ticking boxes of responses to try to compile some meaningful data that was “clean, correct and accountable”.
All of us agree that this network had a value for us that is impossible to measure. Yes, we were involved in a community service that improved everyone’s opportunities for both self-improvement and community building. But on a personal level it was so very much more. Being part of the Community Contact team not only got us out of the house but it also challenged us to grow and was a source of great fun that gave us all such a buzz and a lot of laughs.
This friendship was invaluable as so many of the team were hit with incredible personal tragedies. During those very tough times the Community Contact work became a distraction from our personal worries as well as providing practical support and aroha for each other.
Looking back three things stand out about Community Contact for us.
1. Firstly, the amazing energy and enthusiasm that young mothers can have and how invigorating it can be for them to have an interest outside of the home.
2. Secondly, how good things happen in communities when lots of people do a little bit to keep good things alive.
3. And last but not least, how very grateful we are to have journeyed together – discovering, challenging, advocating and growing to become who we are now.
Best wishes to the current team and well done Lisa Reinhardt and Karyn Mathieson for the fantastic job you’ve done taking over from Brenda.
Carrol, Eve, Jan, Maree and Stasia
Standing: Eve (with James sleeping close by), Jan. Seated: Stasia with Kieran, Maree, Carrol with Pete