21-11-2023

Caitlin's story

No one should feel helpless in a crisis

My name is Caitlin and I’m a student volunteer at SVA.

I grew up in West Auckland which has the most caring, supportive and kind community. Anytime my family or I have had hard times, the community has helped us. It’s the kiwi way. When the Anniversary Weekend floods happened, West Auckland was one of the worst hit areas. Seeing my childhood streets and the local schools underwater was devastating. I wanted to help but I had no resources, no training, and didn’t know where to start. 

I found SVA through social media and signed up to the first available volunteer opportunity. I no longer felt helpless.


$50 could be used to provide equipment like PPE, shovels and gloves for volunteers to clear out houses after flooding.



$200 could be used for training SVA clubs to be ready to respond quickly and safely when there is a crisis.

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We met in Henderson to receive some basic training and information. After that we were sent out to check in on residents in the worst affected streets. People's whole lives had been washed away. All that was left were trails of mud and broken trees. Those homes and people stayed with me in the long days of cleaning, the endless phone calls and organisation - as tired as I got volunteering, I had a dry and safe home to return to.

We were just beginning to get on top of flood recovery when we heard that Cyclone Gabrielle was coming. We didn’t know what it would bring, so we wanted to be ready. We set up a community hub in Māngere, organised volunteers and arranged sandbags and water for the community - I don’t think I’ve ever consumed so much coffee in my life! 

Even amongst the chaos, I will always remember how connected everyone was. We were all from different parts of Auckland, with different backgrounds and stories, people who had never met, yet we all worked together that day like we were old co-workers.

As a non-profit organisation, we rely on donations. During flood recovery, we were only able to send volunteers out safely with donated PPE, and only able to keep operations running because of donations.

During those long days when we had a donation come in we would all celebrate - glimpses of joy throughout many harrowing days. It means the world that we had so many kind souls donating to our efforts. We literally could not do it without you.

When you donate to SVA, you ensure that volunteers like me across Aotearoa are equipped, trained and empowered - ready to help our communities rebuild when crisis hits.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, a million times thank you.

Tēnā koe,

Caitlin