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Thames High School student Ari-Ella Reed is an advocate for volunteering. Photo: DAVIDDA HIKATANGATA

Thames High volunteer leads by example

Ari-Ella Reed is no stranger when it comes to volunteer work.
The Thames High School year-13 student has been immersed in volunteering for several years. Therefore, it’s no surprise the 17-year-old was awarded the $1000 Zonta Young Women in Public Affairs Award for the Thames Valley on April 12.
But that’s not all, it is the first time someone has won the award in the Thames Valley. Zonta is an international organisation that is dedicated to building a better world for women and girls, and the scholarship recognises young women who demonstrate leadership skills and commitment to public service.
Thames High careers advisor Leanne Ardern said she nominated Ari for the Zonta award as she was already a seasoned volunteer who was keen to get other students involved. “Volunteering is a passion for Ari and she has managed to pass this passion on to other students,” she said.

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Ari, alongside fellow student Caitlin Jones, will be facilitating a new group that Mrs Ardern has created at the school called the Student Volunteer Army, or SVA, as a way of encouraging other students to volunteer in the community, Mrs Ardern said.
Ari told The Profile the award made her feel like all the hard work she had done was worth something.
“It’s for all the volunteer work that I was doing, as well as other achievements.”
With a goal to get into the University of Waikato next year, Ari said her scholarship would go towards nursing school.
Volunteering efforts for Ari included international work in Peru, event work through the Thames Business Association, and also supporting a Thames resident who is blind with tasks like grocery shopping, going for walks and household cleaning.
Harvesting maca – a plant that “looks like a radish” and has health benefits, is what took Ari, her mum and brother to Peru when she was just 12-years-old, Ari said.
Ari’s Mum manages an organic store that sells maca, and was invited to Peru by the suppliers who head over and help harvest it every year. “We went into the fields and they showed us how to do it,” Ari said.

Ari was also involved with events in her community such as the Santa parade and Wings and Wheels.
“There’s so much work that goes into planning them.”
Ari said she helped to promote Wings and Wheels by handing out fliers to shops.
On the day she directed cars, helped with the lost children and assisted people with payments as they went through the gate.
But the most important thing Ari said she learnt about community work was just how much time and energy everything needed.
“I get to see how much work people put into running those sort[s] of events.”
Ari’s advice for other students interested in volunteering in the community is to just get out there.
“Just get involved. It’s not hard to find volunteer work, especially in Thames.
“Everyone needs volunteers.”