30 Apr 2024

Ricky has been volunteering at Trees for Canterbury for 28 years, spending his time weeding, moving plants and keeping other volunteers “in check.”

But most importantly, he’s been making lifelong friendships and connections.

The sixty-two-year-old spends two days a week at the not-for-profit centre, contributing towards the gardens goal of planting two million trees across Canterbury.

The well-established community organisation promotes a sense of involvement and education for physically and intellectually disadvantaged people – working to save the earth while they’re at it.

Ricky’s work at Trees for Canterbury started in 1996 when the centre was at its old site at Opawa Road, meaning he’s seen the organisation grow, change and develop over the years.

He says his years of experience allows him to arrive in the morning and know just what needs to be done.

“When I see a job, I get it done – I’ve been here long enough that I don’t need to be told anymore,” Ricky says.

While his work at the centre began because of a passion for plants, it has been his workmates and sense of comradery that’s kept him for so long.

“It’s been twenty-eight years over the two sites, and it’s all about the people for me,” Ricky says.

“There’s been volunteers come and go, some ending up being permanent workers, and I’ve been here to help them all through it.”

Ricky says he’s far from retirement yet, with at least another ten years to go for his volunteer days.

Trees for Canterbury Manager Steve Bush says volunteers are the backbone of the organisation, and it’s a two-way street for the value they bring.

“Our volunteers really get something out of the work they do, it gives them a sense of self belief and a community connection,” Steve says.

“This is more than just an environmental group. The work brings them into an idea of fostering life skills, work skills and increasing their chance of employment.”

Find more information about how to get involved with Trees for Canterbury here. Businesses interested in sponsoring Trees for Canterbury trees or contributing to volunteer plantings are welcome to contact the Christchurch City Council on 03 941 8999.