John Paul II High School Service Programme

“So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

John 13:14-15

Giving Service through Volunteering

Volunteering is an excellent way to gain skills and experience while helping others. If you’re doing something to help or serve other people, without expecting anything in return (you don’t get paid), that’s volunteering. Whether you’re helping umpire sport, organising the school ball, mowing your elderly neighbour’s lawn, washing dogs at the SPCA, planting trees, or picking up plastic rubbish at the beach – you’re contributing to your community and that counts. You’ll also feel great about yourself, too!

John Paul II High School is founded on Marist and Mercy charisms.

A Marist education aims to inspire young people to know the love of Jesus and to model their lives on that of his mother, Mary, by emulating her humility and sense of duty towards others, promoting selflessness rather than selfishness. In following in the way of Mary, we are called upon to go about our work, doing good quietly. Marcellin Champagnat is also a valuable example of service. He would travel huge distances on foot over difficult terrain and in all conditions to visit the sick, care for the poor, share the good news of Jesus’ love for all and particularly to reach out to people, especially young people, on the margins of society. We, like the Marist Brothers, are called to seek out those on the margins of society, the poor and vulnerable, and be present to them in their need through our care.

The Mercy value of service is about helping others in need, showing compassion and kindness. You help others who are in need and don’t ask for payment or some other reward in return. Venerable Catherine McAuley is our example of faith in action through service to those in need in our community. Catherine McAuley served the poor in her community, sought to provide quality education to give them a sense of dignity in that they would then be able to help themselves out of their situation, she provided shelters for women, an orphanage and ‘meals on feet’, with the sisters walking to families in need with food and other support. She also cared for their spiritual wellbeing and would read the scriptures and pray sensitively and gently with them. We are called to serve our community and care for those in need, as Catherine McAuley did, to be present in all aspects of their need.

The positive impact of volunteering on young people’s lives is undeniable, multifaceted and profound. Volunteering helps students develop valuable practical skills, like communication and leadership skills. It enhances confidence, increases work-readiness and helps inform career choices.

Volunteering also makes students feel good and proud of themselves, and more connected to others, which are all positive emotional experiences that are linked to psychological health and wellbeing. The importance of these effects on mental wellbeing and attitude-to-self cannot be underestimated, as they are highly relevant for adolescents, a group that often struggles with a lack of confidence and self-worth. This is relevant in the New Zealand context, where poor mental health in rangatahi has doubled in the last 10 years.

Volunteering also strengthens a sense of belonging at school and deepens connection with the local community. These outcomes are particularly significant for students who are shy and feeling isolated. Volunteering further leads to a greater understanding of community needs.

During adolescence, the reward centre of the brain is easily activated and there is a natural drive for sensation-seeking; many young people are drawn to activities that fill a need for excitement, intensity, and connecting with something bigger than themselves. Exposure to new and challenging experiences can help with learning and strengthening new skills. Volunteering can help fulfil this need for the risk of trying something new, in positive ways.

In recent research, young New Zealanders identified several ways that being involved in volunteer service improved their skills and outlook:

  • Improved communication skills: better social skills and ability to connect with people from different backgrounds, ages and cultures.
  • Improved leadership skills: Learning how to accept and work with people who have different perspectives and developing better sympathy and empathy for others.
  • Better organisational skills: Improved ability to plan and make sure you have everything in order.
  • Time management skills: Better able to predict what is needed and when, awareness of time frames.
  • Developing problem solving skills: Improved ability to recognise problems and find solutions.
  • Improved ability to work under pressure: Learning to be more flexible and adaptable.
  • Better teamwork skills: Learning to work together despite personal feelings and differences with a person.
  • Increase in pride and self-worth: Feeling good about having a way to contribute to your local community
  • Improved work readiness and focus on future career goals: Exposure to careers and work focused on service.
  • Civic and social awareness: Improved understanding of community needs, learning how to respond to needs when volunteering, and what it means to be in a privileged position to help others.

Source: Algera, P. et al. 2022. The Impact of Volunteering on a Young Person’s Life – A study into the SVA Service Award – a New Zealand national framework for recognising and growing secondary school volunteering. An Independent Research Report Commissioned by the Student Volunteer Arm. Retrieved 19/08/23 at this link.

The SVA Service Award

By volunteering and logging your hours through the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) Service Award app, you can add essential skills to your CV while building your confidence and making friends.

Any student who has given at least 25 hours of voluntary unpaid time to serve others may qualify for an award. Service could include Peer Support leadership, coaching or refereeing, or doing work for an outside organisation such as the SPCA or RDA.

The SVA Service Award is a free online platform where volunteers can record and reflect on their volunteering hours. Volunteers work towards physical badges – Member, Bronze, Silver and Gold – to acknowledge the work they do in their community, whether it be for their school, whānau, or local community.

Logging volunteer service hours in the SVA app generates a ‘Summary of Service’ certificate that can- then be downloaded and printed to add to your CV or applications for things like:

  • University applications
  • University halls of residence applications
  • Scholarship applications
  • Award applications
  • Girl Guide community badges
  • CV & job applications
  • Leadership role applications

Earn a John Paul II High School Volunteer Service Award Certificate and Badge

Awarded at end of year prizegiving, you can take multiple years to earn the JPIIHS Volunteer Service Award. You need to meet these 2 criteria:

  1. Minimum of an SVA Silver Award Pin earned
  2. Service reflection (written, slideshow, poster, speech, or interview) answering:
  • How has the volunteering experience impacted you as a person? What are your values?
  • Who is the beneficiary of your service and how are they impacted by your volunteering?
  • What is the greater social and political context that creates the issues experienced by the beneficiary? What is your role in this wider context?

Each year, hours of service logged in the SVA app contribute to our House Service Competition – collective hours of members of each house are added up to acknowledge the House who contributes the most service hours. There is also a Top Service Award for each year level group.

Students will have opportunities to complete full days of service in the community. Through a programme that the school will organise.

Getting Started – Local Community Opportunities for Volunteer Service

It’s motivating to match interests you have already or ideas you have for potential future careers with a local community group or organisation that needs volunteer support to run. You can probably think of a person who has impacted your own life positively through the volunteer work that they do – a sports coach or umpire or a youth group leader for example.

There are many activities and events that happen in our West Coast communities that would not exist without the tireless work of people who volunteer in the same organisation for many years. You could ask one of those people about what volunteering means to them. They will have suggestions and connections in their network to help you get started too. There are lots of expert volunteers on the West Coast who are very keen to guide and support young people who want to contribute through volunteer service.

It’s important to find an existing need to contribute your volunteer service to that is genuinely helpful for others.

Here are some suggestions to help you explore and find volunteer service projects:

Parish roster for ministries: altar server, reader, eucharistic minister, greeter, youth member on parish council.

Morning tea club.

Assembly prayers, liturgy and Mass, whānau time prayers.

Peer Support programme.

Peer Learning Support.

Student Librarians.

Ball committee.

SVA Club.

Daffodil Day Collector.

Duke of Edinburgh Voluntary Service.

Bootcamp Fitness Leader.

Catholic Character Mission Leaders.

Catholic Character group after school club.

Junior Camp student leader.

St. Patrick’s Parish Choir.

Helping prepare a cuppa after Mass.

St. Vincent De Paul.

Salvation Army.

The Shed Youth Club.

Parish roster for ministries: altar server, reader, eucharistic minister, greeter, youth member on parish council.

Volunteer lifeguarding with the Kotuku Surf Life Saving Club.

Greymouth SPCA, SAFE Animal Welfare, and ‘Your Voice’ in Hokitika.

West Coast RDA.

Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Lions Clubs run regular projects and events for communities that need volunteer support.

St John Youth, Girls Guides, Scouts, Keas, Cubs, Air Training Corps (ATC) usual have a volunteering component.

Community Food Drives.

Whare Manaaki.

Te Hono o Ngā Waka.

Sport coach for a community sports team or a local primary or secondary school aged team.

Sport umpire/referee for a primary or secondary sports competitions or a local community sports team or club.

Volunteer work with a sports club, such as caring for grounds and buildings, setting up for competitions, cleaning up in the kitchen.

Be a committee member.

Grey District Youth – Art Soup Youth Arts Space.

Gardening and weeding.


Beach clean-up.

Walking track clean-up.

Helping older people to use their smart phones, different apps, and work online.