By TRACEY ROXBURGH
In just over six months more than $1 million has been raised for the Wakatipu Greatest Needs Fund.
Established by Queenstown’s fundraising queen Kaye Parker during Alert Level 4 lockdown to provide financial support to front-line charities in the Wakatipu, the fund — administered by the Wakatipu Community Foundation — has now raised, facilitated or pledged $1,161,951.
Starting with a $50,000 donation from the Hugo Charitable Trust, Parker says, to date, more than $812,000 has been given out in grants, there’s another $85,000 in grant applications currently in process and other funds have been tagged to a GP medical and mental health fund.
The over-riding aim is to fund the gaps in government welfare assistance — hat’s what led to the launch of the GP and mental health fund, which provides free GP consultations, prescriptions and counselling to those who don’t qualify and can’t afford the fees, she says.
‘‘This fund is ongoing and the funding has been stretched significantly because we receive partial refunds for every eligible client from Red Cross on behalf of the Department of Internal Affairs.
‘‘We are grateful to Queenstown Medical Centre for its superb administration in handling the back end across the medical practices in the Wakatipu.’’
The Rotary Club of Queenstown and Rotary District 9980 agreed to fund a pilot mental health seminar for Brazilian migrants, led by a Portuguese-speaking counsellor, who’s since followed up with individual Zoom sessions, Parker says.
‘‘The feedback has been outstanding and it may be rolled out to other migrant communities in the future who don’t speak English as a first language.’’
The fund’s also enabled the appointment of Social Worker in Schools (SWIS) Fiona Stephenson who’s working across all seven Wakatipu primary schools.
While the Ministry of Education funded the six-month appointment, Parker says the granting committee believed it needed to be a longer-term role, so it committed $165,160 on top of $55,000 from SkyCity Queenstown Community Trust and $50,000 from the Central Lakes Trust, to enable the SWIS role to remain for more than three years.
Parker’s hoping the government sees the value and funds it permanently in future.
She says the committee — Ray Key, Jennifer Belmont, Sir Eion Edgar, Tony McQuilkin, Bill Moran, and Aoibheann Monaghan, with assistance from Jenny McLeod — is overwhelmed at the generosity shown.
Along with the money, there’s been 1200kg of beef mince and ‘‘hundreds of kilograms of beautiful venison sausages’’ donated by farmers, which have gone to Baskets of Blessing.
‘‘It’s just been amazing … people have been amazing.’’
While donations have come in from all over New Zealand, and across the world, the most generosity had been shown by Queenstowners, or people who had a connection to the resort.
‘‘But it is the Queenstown community who have given as much as they could and really understood the need and just went all out.’’