A former news presenter and journalist have started a new life in New Zealand, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity ReStore Rotorua.

Sergey and Valerie decided to “change everything” and were warmly welcomed by the local ReStore.

Within two weeks of moving from Russia, the couple wanted to meet new people, improve their English and start working towards their new life.

They said that volunteering has been a positive way of immersing themselves in the community.

“I just love helping people,” said Valerie.

She said that on walking into the Rotorua Restore, the sense of everyone working together is immediately evident. Habitat for Humanity’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

“Whether its folding sheets, sorting out price tags, or moving furniture, we are all making our contribution towards helping with housing,” Sergey said.

“We read a lot about New Zealand lifestyle and we read that volunteering is popular here and it’s a good way to get experience.”

The couple fills their time volunteering and gaining skills so that they can start afresh with a career change.

Sergey has started studying web development at Toi Ohomai and volunteers after finishing his day at the local polytechnic. The universities in New Zealand offered cheaper prices for his course, which attracted the couple to New Zealand.

Valerie spends her time looking after their four-year-old son and volunteering at the ReStore.

She likes the diversity of the jobs – “yesterday was pricing and hanging clothes, today we are folding.”

The couple found the ReStore through Volunteering Bay of Plenty.

Sergey said that they were looking through the site and found the store. “With no idea what we needed to do, Jenny explained it to us.”

Rotorua ReStore manager Jenny Hatcher said, “It’s a step for them into employment, to get experience, and a reference.”

Valerie has now found part-time paid employment at Holiday Inn, and she still comes in once a week, while Sergey continues to enjoy volunteering at the ReStore outside of his full-time study.

If you would like to volunteer contact your local ReStore.