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Volunteering provides teen with a purpose in the present

When Palmerston North teenager Kate Coutts volunteers with the Cancer Society she feels hope, and no doubt spreads it too.

Kate, a Year 13 at Palmerston North Girls’ High school, signed up to be a volunteer with the Manawatu Cancer Society two years ago.

“I’ve had lots of experience with cancer, and I hate it – it’s a horrible thing.”

Kate’s Nana passed away in 2020 from ovarian cancer, she’s had an aunt go through breast cancer and she recalls, as a child, meeting patients with cancer when she accompanied her surgeon father on ward rounds.

Her first experience of volunteering for the Cancer Society was as a Daffodil Day collector in 2022.

“I loved it, I love the community vibe and I knew I wanted to do more. I asked Jenny, the volunteer manager at the time, ‘What else can I do?’”  

Since that first day collecting, Kate’s volunteer duties have expanded to selling raffle tickets, helping on the phone with Daffodil Day planning and coordination, and engaging with the public through health promotion activities at events such as Relay for Life and community days.

“Volunteering made me feel good and not hopeless about something that can make you feel pretty hopeless – cancer.”

Kate says she finds it “uplifting” to be around the “positive lovely people” at her local Cancer Society.

“At school you are learning things that you know may be useful one day, but don’t feel that useful right, but when I’m volunteering at the Cancer Society I feel useful now, I’m doing something that is making a difference.”

The Cancer Society is excited to have rangatahi like Kate joining the team of volunteers supporting our work across Aotearoa New Zealand. If you want to get involved in mahi that makes a difference you can find out more and sign up at