John – Board Member, Deputy Chair

John is the Deputy Chair on the Board of Trustees and has been involved with CRS for over 15 years. In the early years of his work during his time as a Senior Sergeant of the New Zealand Police, John was involved with Youth Services and was heavily involved with the Youth Camps that were organised by CRS.  He has been on the board of CRS for a long time and has been Deputy Chair for five years.

John has fond memories of the Youth Camps and the role that they played in young refugee and migrant background people’s lives. He recalls a trip to Queenstown with some young people and offering to pay for one of the young women to have a go at a bungy jump. “The most quiet and reserved of the girls came up and said, ‘I’ll do it!’” John remembers the moment as being incredibly powerful. “She came out of it and said, ‘You’ve changed my life!’”

John says one thing he admires about CRS is the agency’s awareness about how important each client’s culture is to their identity. CRS “really get the importance of holding onto their culture but then making it easier for them to live in New Zealand at the same time.

John enjoys events that CRS holds and getting to see clients immersed in their cultures.

“Seeing all their culture, their costumes, their passion for their home country, I just love that.”

On the subject of the 30th Anniversary, John says, “I think anyone who’s been involved with CRS, I hope they can look back with a tremendous amount of pride. The work that those staff have done, it’s just inspirational. When they’re dealing with their own crisis and their own issues at home, when funding is so tight, they just give, give, give, to the bigger picture of wanting to make a difference. Where CRS’ strength is, is that sense of community, that sense of purpose that they have.”