When kids or property get lost at WOMAD NZ, people visit volunteers Marilyn and Noel Stachurski and their team in the Information Centre.
They were among about 600 people in the TSB Community Trust Volunteer Programme at this year’s WOMAD, which ran from March 19 to 20.
Marilyn first started in 2007 and Noel joined the year after and they’ve been working in the Information Centre ever since.
They were originally coaxed into helping by their daughter Lisa Haskell, who works for the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust, which puts on WOMAD at the TSB Bowl of Brooklands and adjoining park.
“First and foremost it’s lost property,” Noel says. "It can be anything – cellphones, car keys, credit cards, clothing, jewellery, wallets.
"We have wallets handed in with lots of money,” Marilyn says. “We are always surprised that the money is still in there. We mostly get things back to their owners – about 80%.”
The second-most common thing in the lost-and-found category is children, who are either reported missing or handed in to the Information Centre.
“We had a little fella that was really upset last year,” Noel says. “He was about two-and-a-half. The parents were definitely relieved. We’ve not had people come and growl at them, they are always pleased to see their kids.”
When children go missing at WOMAD, security is always alerted so they can be on the look out too.
The Information Centre is a hub for people, and a place people come when they don’t know where else to go, Noel says.
There’s a notice board where people can ask for rides after the festival and that always works well.
“We get the odd complaint, like the music’s too loud,” he says.
The couple say they love volunteering at WOMAD. “Seeing people enjoy themselves” is Marilyn’s highlight.
“It’s like quite a large party isn’t it,” Noel adds.
Both also love the variety of food on offer.
Beyond WOMAD, Marilyn and Noel also volunteer in the community. Marilyn volunteers at Trade Aid. Noel has just started at the Hospice Warehouse two mornings a week and also helps out at the Cape Egmont replica lighthouse museum once a month.
Both also help out during the Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular and Taranaki International Arts Festival.
“It’s people contact and having something to do,” Marilyn explains as her reason for volunteering.
Noel adds: “It’s time to help out somewhere else.”
It is thanks to people like Noel and Marilyn that many important events, activities and services in our region are made possible - a big thank you to Noel and Marilyn and all Taranaki community volunteers!