Whether it is helping youth to reach their potential, lending a hand to families in need, or partnering with organisations to raise funds, Lyal Brenton is behind it all. Lyal’s commitment to volunteering stretches back 50 years and it continues to be a major part of his day-to-day life as a dedicated Manawatu volunteer and as manager of Goodwill.
As part of his work responsibilities, Lyal is in charge of raising money for charity as part of Methodist Social Services, a centre to help people in the community. Aside from that, he somehow manages to spread his time and skills between organisations such as Rotary, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hospice, Red Cross, Salvation Army and Corrections.
Of all the volunteering Lyal has been involved in, the Big Brothers programme is what gives him the most satisfaction. For the past two years he has mentored an 11-year-old boy who otherwise would not have a male figure in his life. The pair go fishing, do archery and go to Big Rig days – classic boy stuff! “It’s an incredible journey watching his behaviour change and knowing that it’s from my influence that he’s benefiting,” says Lyal. “I have a passion for young people; sometimes they may go off the rails and head in different directions. But they are our future so they need development and balance.”
It’s about belonging to an organisation that affects change. There is always time for other people, we just have to get on with it.
“I get young people through here from Corrections. They come in and they’re lippy and out to prove something to the world. I had a young chap recently who was here for three weeks doing community service before going to rehab, at only 14. When he first came in his head was bowed down; by the time he left he held his head high. He cried when he left because he got a benefit from being here that you can’t actually measure. And that’s through a culture I create.” Some of the people Lyal has helped through Corrections have come back in and said, ‘Look, you helped me when I was down, you gave me food and clothes, I’d like to come back in now and help you.’”
However, spreading his generosity around Palmerston North is not enough; Lyal helps globally wherever he can. After disaster struck in Vanuatu, Lyal and his team packed up a shipping container full of clothing items to help those suffering. Being the Assisting Governor for his local Rotary group also means Lyal has helped with eradicating polio in South Africa and India, which he is thrilled are now polio free! “It’s about belonging to an organisation that affects change. There is always time for other people, we just have to get on with it.”