Glenys Wood, Cooking & Conversation Tutor is our Volunteer of the Year 2018
Glenys Wood first came to Shama more than 15 years ago, to speak to clients as a Women’s Health Promoter working for Family Planning. She soon realised that such a direct approach would not work with many ethnic women, so she asked them what they would like to talk about; they responded that they would like to learn New Zealand cooking recipes, and that’s how the Cooking & Conversation class started. In the class, meanwhile cooking or when enjoying the result, they can talk about different women’s issues.
Since then our weekly cooking class has been going strong, with some participants coming for more than 10 years and others coming for shorter periods. Glenys has always been able to engage with our clients, she is not just knowledgeable about cooking, but she is a vibrant and confident woman that inspire our clients.
From the beginning, Glenys has shown a great capacity to think outside the box to be able to engage with ethnic women and serve them. Something that started as part of her job developed into a volunteering commitment that she has continued with passion. Not just providing new skills and space for women to improve their English, but also became friends of many of those participants, providing them pastoral care to some that are totally alone here in New Zealand, and so that much more she is willing to give. Formally, she works for Shama 2 hours a week, but through the years she has helped many women in many different ways, many times without anyone else knowing. And it is this humbleness and service vocation that is so commendable. For example, when a participant just delivered her baby, she not only went to visit her but brought some baking she did for her and a small gift. Also, after the Winston Cyclone hit Fiji, she supported some of our participant’s families residing in Fiji with food and clothing, no one asked she just saw the news on TV and thought about it.
Glenys has not only helped our clients, but she has been essential to Shama helping us achieve our vision and goals. She not only led the Cooking class but she also embedded the idea of empowering, many times the first public speaking experience of our clients has been delivering the cooking class because she created an atmosphere where ethnic women feel they can do it, because its ok not to do it perfectly and they have her support, and now we see many times, when Glenys is away the women taking the classes on a roster basis, and when they take the class you see them leaving Shama Centre taller.
Glenys is an extremely generous person who shows respect for everyone, celebrates diversity and people from all walks of lives and it’s been our privilege to have her involved with our organization.