Planting Project

Planting Project – a great chance for Community Service

Saturday 8 August 1:30 – 4:30pm

Vogelmorn Park

Corner of The Ridgway & Mornington Road, Wellington

Come and join us this Saturday for a planting project. We’re digging 200 holes in a steep bank, so school children can plant native trees on Monday at Ridgway School.  Bring along shovels, gloves and gumboots and willing hands. The more the merrier! Invite your friends and come along.

Join Ridgway School community, Mormon Helping Hands, Wellington Zoo Bush Builders, and The Wellington City Council to beautify the environment and leave a legacy.

Mormon Helping Hands held a project 4 years ago involving 320 people who planted some beautiful bush in this area that children now enjoy. Let’s do some more!

Afternoon tea will be provided by the local cafe, l’affare.

See y’all there… let’s get them holes dug!

Come and dig holes for 220 Ridgway plants.
Come and dig holes for 220 native NZ Ridgway plants.

I look forward to seeing you there. To see some of my other community service initiatives, see this post about my Local Hero medal, or this post about helping the homeless.

Storylines Free Family Day 2015

StorylinesWellington Storylines Free Family Day

Sunday 23 August 2015, Shed 6 on Wgtn Waterfront

 Are you passionate about helping kids read? Would you like to make a difference to children’s  literacy? Do you enjoy having fun? We have 6 weeks until Family Day and need your help!

Storylines Free Family Days help kids meet New Zealand authors and illustrators and have fun with books. Crafts, live performances, face-painting, competitions, and activities help kiwi books come  to life for kiwi kids. Join us as a volunteer – we need you.

Encounter weird and wild creatures!

Run amok with aliens and astronauts!

Fling medieval insults & create medieval stories!

Meet ‘Monkey Boy’ and help kids cook creatively!

Fish up something from beneath the surface in the underwater corner.

Design dragons, pigs, sea creatures and aliens!

Dare to dress up! Shape-shifters welcome! Cool costumes rewarded!

Get fishy with marine biologists from NIWA and Te Papa!

Go out of this world with Space Place from Carter Observatory!

LCP_Findlay Blank_235
2014: Findlay reads Best Mates by Philippa Werry. In the War Zone, Kids tried on NZ Defence Force gear, got camouflage paint, met soldiers, ate Anzac biscuits, made poppies and medals, viewed the war gallery photos, met author Philippa, and saw Bob Kerr in action, illustrating.

Over 4,000 Wellingtonians attended Family Day in 2014! This year we are at Shed 6, on Wellington waterfront, next to the TSB Arena on Sunday 23 August 2015 from 10am – 3pm. Don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of this special rewarding day.

For more information, or to join our volunteer team, contact me now!

Twisty Christmas Tales helps Muscular Dystrophy Association

Have Yourself a Twisty Little Christmas – and Help the Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand

LatestTwisty-Front-Only330wideLooking for a way to do good in the world AND get some of your Christmas shopping sorted? Support the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and enter a world of mischievous elves, revved up reindeer, and food-tampering fairies. It’s Christmas time, but not as you know it. It’s The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales.

Phantom Feather Press is sharing Christmas cheer by donating to Muscular Dystrophy. Every book counts, so let’s have fun Christmas shopping! To pre-order your copy of The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales, click here!

You’ll see our fun video, and other tidbits about the book. Enjoy!

Storylines Family Day – Joy Cowley

Storylines Family Day makes the Dominion Post!

The Dominion Post ran a fantastic article about Storylines Family Day in their Capital Day page this morning. Joy Cowley mentions how Storylines Family Days “give children a love of reading.” At Free Family Days we open the world of stories and knowledge to them through providing stimulating activities based on books.



Gheko Press are giving away copies of Joy’s two novels Dunger and Speed of Light, via the Dominion Post Capital Day Page. Just email with “Joy Cowley” in the subject line by 5pm Saturday 23 August. Good Luck.

I’ve read Speed of Light and it’s a fantastic journey! Just when I was sure everything was going to fall apart in Jeff’s life with no hope of recovery… well, I don’t want to spoil the book, but the ending left me with a pleasant glow. If you don’t win a copy, you can always pick one up at Storylines Family Day tomorrow. If you get there before noon, Joy may have time to sign it for you.

Julia Marshall, Director Gheko Press, with Joy Cowley and Paul Beavis.



Storylines Family Day – War Zone

Storylines Family Day Michael Fowler Centre Wellington

Sunday 24 August 10am-3pm

Philippa Werry is a fantastic author, short-listed for the NZ Post children’s book awards, and a prolific writer for the School Journal. Most kids will know Pippa’s stories, even if they don’t yet recognize her name. In the last few years she has become a World War 1 specialist with several books about the war – both novels, and picture books.

best-mates Anzac-Day-300dpi








To celebrate Philippa’s great books we have a War Zone at Storylines Family Day. Real soldiers will be there to give you camouflage paint, show off their tents and equipment and let you try on soldier’s gear. They’ll even teach you how to march like a soldier!

One of our team has been baking up a storm. We have hardtack to break your teeth on (the softer modern kind) and 900 real old-fashioned Anzac biscuits – that taste more like ginger-nuts than today’s Anzac biscuits!

There are displays of WW1 soldier’s food, oodles of photos of world war one, soldier stories and even Bob Kerr’s fantastic illustrations from Best Mates. A particularly special treat is Philippa’s personal Galipolli gallery. She volunteered there on Anzac Day this year and has a fantastic presentation to share about her trip!

Philppa Werry, Anzac Day 2014 in Galipolli. Pippa is in the back row, on the right at the end with long dark hair.

Come along, march like a soldier, get dressed up and learn about the war! For a full programme, go here. For the Monster Fun Zone go here. General info go here.

9 weeks until Storylines Family Day!

Storylines Family DayStorylines Festival of NZ Children’s Writers and Illustrators

Wellington Free Family Day on 24 August 2014

 We have 9 weeks to go until Storylines Family Day!  Are you passionate about helping kids read? Would you like to make a difference to children’s literacy? Do you enjoy having fun?

Help kids unlock the meaning in books and bring their reading experiences to life — join us as a volunteer for the Storylines Family Day in Wellington.

Crafts, live performances, storytelling, face-painting, competitions, music, and other fun activities are an essential part of our festival, highlighting New Zealand authors, illustrators and books. If you’d like to volunteer on the day, please contact me.

Around 2,000 children attend Family Day at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington. Let’s make it a great experience for them.

Please share this with your networks via email and social media. I look forward to hearing from you and having fun at Storylines Family Day together!

Check out our Facebook page for more information.

Join Us for Storylines Family Day!

StorylinesI have a new exciting role – Wellington Regional Coordinator for Storylines NZ.

Are you passionate about helping kids read?

Would you like to make a difference to children’s literacy?

Do you enjoy having fun?

Help kids unlock the meaning in books and bring their reading experiences to life — join us in planning the Wellington Storylines Family Day.

 Storylines Festival of New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators

Wellington Free Family Day 24 August 2014

Crafts, live performances, face-painting, art & writing competitions, music, and other fun activities are part of our festival highlighting New Zealand authors, illustrators and books. If you’re interested in joining the Family Day Committee, or helping as a volunteer on the day, please contact me at this link.

Around two thousand children attend Family Day at the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington. Let’s make it a great experience for them.

Please share this post with your social and Wellington community networks. I look forward to hearing from you and having fun planning Family Day together!

Eileen Receives Special Mention for Homeless Flash Fiction

Just for fun, I recently entered a worldwide flash fiction competition run by Inscribe Media (based in Britain.) The goal was to create emotion using 20 words or less.  I had fun creating a few entries and was surprised when I received a special mention for this little story of 19 words:

Scraps of rotting pumpkin, cast-off shoes….A bitten hotdog! Starving, he shovels it down, stumbling to the next bin.Blanketmanwiki

As a teenager, I bought food for homeless people on the streets of Wellington. When I lived in Switzerland, people were amazed when they saw me buying hot food for those living on their streets — something as simple as a hotdog, a slice of pie, or some fruit to brighten their day. From the reactions of the Swiss, I could tell this was a rare occurrence.

Nowadays, attitudes have changed. The photo above is of Ben Hana, a.k.a ‘blanket man,’ who lived on the Wellington streets. Many showed kindness to Ben, who chose to live on the streets. When he died there was a temporary public memorial set up and a public funeral. He had become a persona and a part of many people’s lives. He was offered accommodation and clothing, but chose to live without both.

Perhaps we can’t make a huge difference in everyone’s lives, but a spot of kindness lets them know that people still care. One small token of love could give them hope to carry on. And if many people could give that token of kindness, then someone could be fed or housed. bin rummaging

I have a close friend who lived on the streets for two years as a part of his young adult life. It started with a choice to see how the other side lived, then he got stuck. He was always grateful for a offers of a night’s accommodation, but often turned them down, going to sleep in a barn or shed, outside, or in the local homeless shelter when the weather was rough. Soup kitchens, kind donations of food and charity organisations helped him get along until he turned his life around. He’s lucky. He’s now has a successful career, a great family and a wife who adores him. Few would ever guess that he has been there.

Another friend of mine said his roughest months were being homeless in winter, in London, living in a cardboard box. Cold and wet, inside a carton? The thought of it always makes me shiver.

We are all community members, and we can make a difference. But what can we do?

Seven years ago, I started an initiative to collect grocery items for battered women. I used an existing group to channel the collection. I was amazed when we were told that, each year, our weekend collection provided enough food for 6 months. Women who had left their homes in desperation when being abused and gone to the Wellington Women’s Refuge, could receive a few of our groceries to help them get on their feet until state assistance came through. We expanded the collection and included furniture and mountain buggies for kids, twin prams etc, kindly donated by a local company that we approached. Now, I am no longer involved, but that legacy lives on and that annual collection still takes place.

A few years ago, I engaged my local church to bake Christmas cookies for the homeless. Each year since then,  this group has donated goods at Christmas time. Initially, we donated hygiene kits (toiletry items etc) and cookies to the ‘Wellington Night Shelter’  – a homeless shelter for men. Soon others in our neighbourhood heard what we were doing and started to donate home baking  as well.

Sometimes we also reached out to include homeless women at the ‘Wellington Women’s Boarding House.’  Their toiletries were packed in gift wrap, to be given to each new resident as a welcoming gift. They received home baking at Christmas. I advertised their plight in a local news article and more donations came flooding in – turkeys for Christmas dinner and gifts for the women and children.

In 2013, that same church group delivered survival kits to the Night Shelter. These were home-sewn bags which contained essential survival items (torches, water, food, survival blankets, first aid items etc) to be used in the event of an emergency (earthquake, flood etc.) I was happy to see that, although I wasn’t involved, this same group had expanded and built upon my initial idea and were continuing to provide for those in need.

Get involved. Start a collection through your school or community group. Help out at a local food bank, make a donation to a local charity, do something kind for the next ten homeless people you see. Then keep on giving. It’s a great feeling, and highly addictive. 🙂

Eileen was awarded a New Zealander of the Year Local Heroes Award for her community service.