Like many of the people who volunteer for the Cancer Society, Janet Knighton is modest about giving up her time and energy to volunteer at the Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge.
But her fortnightly craft group has become a firm favourite with guests in the short time it’s been running and made the afternoon at the Lodge more vibrant and social.
“I think the afternoons can be quite quiet. We felt we could make it more interesting and give people the chance to mix and mingle around a project.”
Every second Tuesday, Lodge guests are invited to join in a range of craft activities in the dining area. There are projects to suit every skill level – and level of patience – from card making to collage to block puzzles. Initially started as an hour-long activity from 1.30pm, crafting can stretch well into the afternoon.
“People don’t want to leave. Some will start a project, go to treatment and then come back and continue. And there’s a flow on effect. People come down to make a coffee and then curiosity gets the better of them – they see what’s going on and join the group.”
Janet started volunteering three years ago after she met Lodge shuttle driver Ray Hodgson. When Janet hired Ray to help her paint her home, she wondered why he knocked off early every Monday afternoon. When he told her about the Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge, Janet put her hand up to volunteer.
Janet is just one of a team of remarkable people who give their time to help keep the Lodge running smoothly and make guests feel at home. But hosting the fortnightly craft group makes especially good use of Janet’s passion for art and her skills and experience as an art teacher.
Lodge guest, Basil, is coming to the end of his five-week treatment at Waikato Hospital and will return to Gisborne with a block puzzle he made at the craft group.
“This place is unreal. All the people are lovely. I came here to get well and the way to be well is to be happy and have no stress,” says Basil.
The group allows people to take time out and connect with others who are going through a similar experience, says Janet.
“When they’re engrossed in it, they’re not experiencing pain or nausea. For some of them the journey isn’t great. But for a couple of hours they can forget why they’re here.”
Decoupage hearts is the next project Janet has planned for the group. She’s diligently making heart-shapes in plaster of Paris one by one until she has enough for the group.
“I just enjoy people thinking creatively and producing something special they can keep. They always come up with wonderful ideas.”