Losing locks to bring back kindness

Gleefully preparing for the Shave for the Food Wave fundraiser are East Otago Health...
Gleefully preparing for the Shave for the Food Wave fundraiser are East Otago Health administration and accounts Lillian Cooper (standing) and East Otago Health practice manager Jane Roberts at the Palmerston clinic. PHOTO: JULES CHIN
A small post on Facebook has a big heart behind it.

"Head Shave for the Food Wave" is the fundraising brainchild of a dedicated staff member at the Palmerston medical centre.

East Otago Health clinic practice manager Jane Roberts said she and her team wanted to give back to the community and bring back more "kindness and positivity" after seeing a growing frustration in people due to longer wait times for appointments and a shortage of doctors.

Mrs Roberts and Michelle, a nurse practitioner at the clinic, will both shave their heads next month to raise money for the local foodbank run by Progress of Waikouaiti Area (POWA).

Mrs Roberts said she and her team prided themselves on connecting with their patients.

She said Covid meant higher levels of anxiety and negativity due to wait times. That meant people had, at times, been "kicking off" at clinic staff and she wanted to counteract that.

"We’re all still going through an adaption to that [Covid] but this is the new normal and we just want to bring some compassion back.

"The fact we can’t [help] on any given day is really unfortunate, but we do our best.

"It’s a genuine coming-from-the-heart ... we thought we’d just get out and share our own story and create our own story" for a good cause, she said.

They chose to raise money for POWA, a community organisation, after learning of the high demand in the area for food, as many people struggled with daily food costs.

"At the end of the day, all our passion is caring for people.

"It was a real surprise to hear that the need for food for people was so high. They just can’t keep up with it.

"That’s what really drew us to them, that was why I came up with shave for the food wave."

Mrs Roberts was no stranger to hardship and said she wanted to help others going through tough times.

She had grown up in a violent household and experienced a lot of loss at a young age, including the deaths of two of her brothers before she was 20.

One died in a motorcycle accident caused by a drink-driver and the other by suicide.

She has since lost both her parents.

"Anyone whose had a bit of a tough upbringing or who has lost people, it brings compassion and kindness," she said.

"I have hauled myself from my guarded quiet space, of flying under the radar, to get out of my comfort zone and do something to the benefit of our community."

Some had been a bit reluctant to cut off their locks, she said, but she had quite different feelings.

"It’s for a great cause, that’s all I’m thinking about.

"I’m quite excited about it."

No target had been set for the fundraiser as they did not want to set any expectations, but she joked "they’d like to get a big printed cheque".

Head Shave for the Food Wave will take place on March 12 in the rear garage of East Otago Health clinic.

Non-perishable food items can be made to East Otago Health reception and online donations can be made to 12-3196-0011062-00, with ShaveWave as your reference.