Featured Volunteers

Maurice Flynn

Anne Wallace squints as she pushes commands on her phone, trying to access a photo of her granddaughter to show Maurice Flynn, who she has just met. He stays patient, no one is in a rush.

Flynn has met with Anne as part of his role as interviewer for Volunteering Waikato. He’s been with her for almost an hour, trying to link her up with an organisation that will suit her skillset. After long minutes of Anne trying to find this photo, she gives up and thanks Maurice as she’s on her way out. She leaves upbeat with a sense of direction.

As awkward and slightly funny as the phone debacle is, it shows something of Maurice as he interacts with Anne. He works well in the role because he listens more than he talks.

“Maurice has great patience with his subjects until the right choice is made,” says Volunteering Waikato general manager Heather Moore, “he is naturally a people person.”

Maurice Flynn won’t let anything hold him back. Not the fact he grew up in the small town of Waiuku, or that he was the only kid in a wheelchair. In fact, he used this to his advantage to help develop the positive perspective he holds today.

“It never really created a barrier when I was a kid,” he says, “I was the only one in a wheelchair, but I always did everything with able-bodied children so I think that gave me a strong mind frame that I am no different.”

Now 26, Maurice continues to prove that he can do anything he puts his mind to, as a member of Waikato’s wheelchair basketball A team. He has been playing for a year now, and his team finished high in the national competition.

As much as he loves to play the game, it’s the connection Maurice has with his teammates that crosses over into his everyday life.

“A lot of them have done voluntary work as well, so learning about their personal experiences is always cool.”

Since moving to Hamilton in 2010, Maurice began studying at Wintec where he tried a bit of everything. After completing a few different certificates, he settled on communications where he did a bachelor’s degree in public relations.

Once Maurice graduated in 2016, he discovered that finding a job was no easy task.

“Living with a disability makes it harder to get employment as there's a stigma that you can't do the job as well, and that's where voluntary work helps. You end up meeting people and you can find a job through who you know and show your commitment.”

He has always seen himself as a people person, but Heather Moore at Volunteering Waikato says he has come out of his shell since.

“His confidence has grown so much since joining Volunteering Waikato and I think that’s due to the close team that works here, so you get comfortable quick.”

The people skills that Maurice has learned and refined during his time at Wintec and Volunteering Waikato seem to have eased the transition into his new role as Service Coordinator at CCS Disability Action Waikato, an incorporated society and registered not-for-profit charity that aims to create communities that include all people.

He is only nine months into his role at the CCS Waikato branch, but Maurice is convinced it was the right decision.

“I'm still quite new, but I enjoy it, there’s a good team there. It’s quite office based but I do go out to communities where I work with people with higher needs, and coordinate their support staff who work hard with them day to day.”

Even with his busy role at CCS, Maurice still finds time to interview hopeful volunteers at Volunteering Waikato every Friday morning.

“I like working with Volunteering Waikato because they helped me out a lot and it makes me feel like I’m doing my part and giving back to a group I love.”

“A memorable moment was when I was out in the public and someone came up to me and thanked me for getting them into volunteer work which really blew me away. It’s inspiring to see what you can do through not for profit organisations.”

Thinking back to the moment Anne walked out of his office after her interview with him, eager to help out any way she could, Maurice says he prides himself on helping others find their sense of direction.

“In voluntary work, you're not working for numbers, you're working for people and it's a part of who I am.”

Article written by Ben Flood - Wintec journalism student

PHOTO CREDIT: Angus Templeton

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