A self-confessed café aficionado, Adam Schlooz now finds himself on the other side of the espresso machine in his role as a volunteer at the newly opened Café Aroha at Totara Hospice.
A self-employed property trader, Adam came across an online ad for Volunteer Week, which is a nationwide initiative to encourage people to give their time to local organisations. With some time up his sleeve each week, he decided to look into it. “I was looking more at soup kitchens, stuff like that, as I really enjoy cooking. When I saw Café Aroha come up I thought it was perfect. I could learn how to make coffee and do some good!”
Café Aroha opened at Totara Hospice’s Charles Prevost Drive site in July and has a growing group of regulars from the local neighbourhood who pop in for coffee and baking, and offers a welcome spot for a bit of time out for families visiting loved ones at Hospice.
Although a local, Adam had been unaware of Totara Hospice until he applied for the role at Café Aroha. He says his understanding of what a Hospice does had been limited. “My brother went into another Hospice when he had liver cancer… that was the last couple of days. I don’t know if he was even really conscious by the time he got in there. It just seemed terrible. That’s what I thought a hospice was: just a place you go to die. Now I’ve found that’s not the case.”
The induction process at Totara Hospice for new volunteers introduced Adam to the facility and its work on site and around the community. “You get this situation where life has dealt you a terrible blow, but it’s nice to know that there is a place like Hospice that is somewhere you can go to make things just that little bit better,” says Adam. “And not just for you as a patient, but for your family as well. It seems like a wonderful place to go in a horrible situation.”
He relishes his role at Café Aroha (where he says the coffee is some of the best he’s had) and likes the fact it provides a respite for families. “To be able to come in and sit down and have a rest and a coffee would be quite nice. It’s good for the staff and the community too.”
Adam is helping to grow the pool of regulars as well; encouraging his clients to pop in for a coffee and a catch up when he is there. He is also conscious of his children seeing the importance of volunteering. “That was another reason I looked into it – I thought it was a good thing to show the kids. My mother-in-law’s partner has just started doing a bit of volunteering as well. He’s an entertainer so he goes out and sings.”
“It’s only a few hours a week and it makes you feel like you’re giving back to the community. It puts positive energy out into the universe.”