24 STYLE | special feature Image: Zoe Williams Marian convinced her boss Mark Field to volunteer at the House three years ago. They have been doing the night shift once a month together for three years. Marian Tredinnick is a firm believer in not dwelling on things, particularly when it has to do with Canterbury’s February 22, 2011 earthquake. But it is the reason why the health and safety manager volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House South Island – a place families can stay while children undergo hospital treatment. She and her colleagues at EPL, a manufacturing company in Christchurch, were thrown from their office chairs at 12.51pm at their Maces Road factory in Bromley when the earthquake hit. Marian also lost her home. It was, says Marian, a bit of a rough time. But she chooses to remember the “kindness and generosity” of people delivering them lunches, and of their customers providing washing machines so Marian and her colleagues could do their washing. And so when the last Portaloo was picked up from the old factory almost three years later and Marian got her house sorted, she wanted to give back that which she received. “It made me think we were very fortunate that the rest of the country supported us as well as they did,” she says. Marian, 59, joined what Ronald McDonald House chief executive Mandy Kennedy calls a band of “volunteer angels” about three years ago. “That’s what they are. The gift of time they give us is so valuable,” says Mandy. With 145 regular volunteers and 1600 others ready to help with events and appeals, about 18,000 hours of labour has been “gifted” to the house this year, she says. “Without these gifts of time, we couldn’t serve the 1200-odd families every year that we do. They are critical to the success of the house,” she says. Marian volunteers with EPL chief executive Mark Field at the house on Cashel Street once a month. One stays overnight, usually on a Saturday, while the other one pops down to lend them a hand for a few hours, mopping the floors and cleaning up the kitchen. “They are like part of the family. When they are in doing their night shift, the families are in a really safe pair of hands. They have amazingly warm personalities just oozing with compassion, and they are really fun to be around,” says Mandy. But this year Mark, 57, is taking on the mammoth task of cooking Christmas lunch for up to 26 families at the house. Dry turkey won’t be on the menu though, he’s quick to reassure. He has a plan involving two Weber barbecues. “Marian did one for her family last year the day before Christmas Day and it came out perfectly, so she rang me and told me how to do it. And it came out spectacularly good,” he says. He feels in awe of the parents who are at the house. “I just admire them. Time after time they cope and put on the positive face for the kids. Parenting is tough at the best of times, but man it must be so tough when all that is happening,” he says. Normally Marian would volunteer to do the Christmas Day or Boxing Day overnight shift, as she has done in the past, but she is due to get ankle surgery. But she says if she is “reasonably mobile” she might “hobble in” because, for her, the house is part of her “family”. Image: Zoe Williams Image: Zoe Williams Mark Field will be taking on a bit more than just the mopping when he cooks Christmas lunch for families at Ronald McDonald House South Island this year. Marian Tredinnick wanted to give back to the community after the earthquakes, so she began volunteering at Ronald McDonald House South Island.
Your Kindness. Their Christmas. Embrace the Christmas spirit. When we think of Christmas, we think of tables laden with food; of turkey and ham with baby spuds; of brandy snaps, pavs, and tasty treats galore. But for many Kiwi families, the reality is quite different. In fact, often times it’s just another day struggling to make ends meet. By donating money, food, or your time to the City Mission this Christmas you’ll be helping us make the festive season a little bit special for real families, in real need. Embrace the spirit of giving. Donate now. www.citymission.org.nz /christchurchcitymission