Volunteer Story – Mary

Learning Team Leader

Mary attends Somerfield Playcentre with her tamariki Sébastien (4).  Her older daughter Juliette (7) also attended Playcentre before going to school.  Mary herself grew up going to Playcentre in Pine Hill, Dunedin.

“I remember climbing trees and scraped knees and art projects and good friends.”

Mary attended Space at Paremata Playcentre when her daughter Juliette was a baby and then Juliette spent 2.5 years at Tawa/Linden Playcentre in Wellington with Mary’s husband Stéphane as Playcentre parent.  They then moved down to Christchurch and joined Somerfield Playcentre. 

Playcentre has always been home. I walked into Somerfield Playcentre, and it felt like our place. Belonging to Playcentre has given me a parenting support crew, whānau, really, especially important when our family has never lived in the same city as us.”

According to Mary she has learnt a lot from both informal education on session and the formal Playcentre Education programme.

“It took me a while to get started, but each time I do a Playcentre Education course it’s another piece of the puzzle, giving me more tools and knowledge to approach this daily challenge that is parenting.”

For Mary, the community that Playcentre provides is very important to her.

“It’s hard to describe how different it is to parent when you know you have a community. And there’s so much joy in spending time together and juggling life with people you care about. My children, husband, and I, have all made wonderful friendships.”

When asked about volunteering as a Playcentre parent, Mary says there are many people at her Centre volunteering their time.  But, it is okay for people to contribute in different ways and at different times depending on their circumstances.

“Playcentre as a parent-led early childhood education model doesn’t work unless we’re all pulling in the same direction. There’s quite an arc in the Playcentre journey as you contribute different amounts at different times… but that’s part of the magic.  We look after each other and pick up the slack from each other as life slings its challenges.”

“At times you will contribute more or less due to life and health and sleep and any number of things.  But that’s okay, because it’s give and take, and when you’re able, you can take that opportunity to step up.”