Connect to your community through volunteering.

Jan Scown is a local woman who enjoys contributing to her community through volunteering.

Born in South Taranaki, Jan has a background in psychology and worked primarily in the disability field; directly with those facing barriers due to disabilities as well as in government.

Like many people, Jan came to Wanaka on holiday before deciding to move here. “I saw the lake, the mountains and loved it. I worked part time as a cleaner before coordinating the Community Networks School Holiday Programme and working as a teacher aide at MAC before retiring.” Jan says.


Retirement hasn’t slowed Jan down however and she currently sits on the board with Dunedin Community Care Trust, is the treasurer for the Upper Clutha Tramping Club, is on the committee for Wanaka U3A and has been the Chair of Kahu Youth Trust since 2016.

“When I moved here I felt a need to get involved and wanted to contribute to the community that was my new home. I gain so much from this community and wanted to support groups that I felt held importance in the town.”

“Kahu Youth seemed to have a really good reputation, I went along and visited, talked to the kids and found that those that involved really appreciated what Kahu stood for and felt it was benefiting them. Kids are our future, so I felt it was important to support them.”

“I went to the Matariki celebration that Kahu Youth organise in my first year living here and felt it was an absolute true community event. Nothing has surpassed it and I feel Wanaka would be poorer with the celebration and Kahu, so I was keen to share my skills with the trust.”

Volunteering on a board can be challenging, however you get to work alongside people you may not normally cross paths with and contribute to organisations at a governance level – helping to steer the direction of the group and supporting the staff that deliver the services.

“Like all non-profits we face certain challenges at Kahu Youth. We are limited by funding and the population is growing so rapidly that we need to establish how we can do more and meet the greater need.”

“The satisfaction I gain from my involvement make these challenges worthwhile. I get a far greater sense of being part of the community from volunteering than just heading out for lunch or for a bike ride!  It feels good, I’ve met people I wouldn’t normally have met and really enjoy my involvement in all the groups I volunteer with.”

Volunteers like Jan stepping up and ‘taking their turn’ also enables organistions like Kahu Youth and the Upper Clutha Tramping Club to be sustainable. Keeping a flow of volunteers helps avoid volunteer burnout and Kahu are currently seeking new volunteers to join the trust.

Kahu Youth have three paid staff who deliver the activities which are plentiful! They host regular drop in sessions, a girls and boys adventure club, annual Blue Moon Party, Cardboard Boat Race and Polar Plunge, Mentoring Programme and of course the Matariki Celebration. They also take over Amigos once a year and support the Upper Clutha Youth Council who host the Volunteer Youth Awards.

“We are recruiting people who can help us respond to the needs of the community and work with us to be financially sustainable well into the future. The more diverse the better; connected to the community, fundraising skills, people with or without kids men, women, varied ethnicities and those who can bring different perspectives to the board.”

“The time required averages about four hours a month, we have focused meetings and additional work can generally fit around your schedule. If you’re interested come and have a look round, get a feel of what Kahu Youth is about. People on the board are great fun to work with and it feels really worthwhile!”