Mike Gibson was just looking for something to do.
He had just retired from a lifetime of coal mining and farming and didn’t like being idle.
Mike, now 85, had gone out to Founders Park each day but didn’t find it very stimulating.
He would water the garden or pick up books.
But then he saw an article in the newspaper about the Nelson Community Foodbank, which has been delivering food parcels to families and individuals experiencing hardship in the Nelson area for more than 20 years.
Mike rang the phone number and started a few days later.
He wasn’t there very long before the present coordinator thought he would be a suitable chairperson for the committee.
“That was a bit of a shock. That was the start of it.”
Then the coordinator left so Mike ended up as the coordinator and chairperson for a time.
“We are not about judging about who gets a parcel.
“It is just there to pack parcels and deliver them. But we see those really in need.”
Sometimes when he has delivered food to families they have come out with tears in their eyes. Sometimes there will be people who just want to talk.
“It can be very special.”
For years Mike would go to Countdown on the weekend shopping for the Food Bank with his wife. She enjoyed that too, he says.
“You meet people in Countdown. They see a trolley full of spaghetti and Weetbix and they get curious.
“Over the years I picked up quite a few volunteers that way.”
Some days he packed his van full to the brim with food and drove 45km across Nelson delivering it.
“I’m not in a position to judge but they keep telling us how many people are out there who are short of food. The demand is there.”
But he says the work wasn’t just about the parcels.
“Sort of, in a way I needed it too. I get a lot of satisfaction out it.”
It gave him a good purpose in his retirement.
He wasn’t one for putting his feet up and relaxing. Mike says he would much rather be of some use to society and people who need him.
However, Mike does not give himself much credit for all the work he has put in to ensuring that the food bank ran smoothly. He prefers to refer to it as a job that just needed to be done and he had the time to do it.
But now, he says, it just feels like he is “retiring from being retired”.
Mike says he enjoyed his time with the organisation and meeting people from all walks of life.
He is looking forward to having a bit more time for himself and his family.
Mike says it’s now time for the new coordinator to make the job their own and he is sure they will do great work.
He has started target shooting at Saxton Stadium and proudly displays his latest efforts.
Anyone interested in more information about the Nelson Community Foodbank, or if they are wanting to volunteer, can visit https://www.nelsoncommunityfoodbank.org.nz/