Tragedies like the death of her child, the breakup of her marriage and the passing of her parents within six weeks of each other finally caught up with Mareea.
The last of her three children leaving home and being unable to find work because of her health were catalysts for an acute bout of depression that left Mareea imprisoning herself in her bedroom for 24-hours a day. To add to her problems, her house was burgled and vandalised.
While she was seriously ill, Mareea neglected to keep contact with Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) and her benefit payments stopped, throwing her finances into crisis and worsening her depression.
‘I had some past traumas I hadn’t dealt and my children leaving home had left me feeling I’d been dumped, to the point where you feel worthless,’ Mareea says. ‘So I gave up on the world, stayed at home and lived in my bed – I wasn’t eating or taking care of myself.’
Today, Mareea has her life back and is a vibrant and energetic community volunteer, thanks largely to her own will power and the help of The Salvation Army.
When Mareea arrived at The Salvation Army, an advocate was provided to help her deal with WINZ and ensure she received the payments she was entitled to.
Food parcels were provided as a stop-gap and Mareea and a budget adviser worked out a strategy to get her out of her financial predicament.
‘From the first moment of coming to The Salvation Army, [my advocate] was able to help me with any issue, and for me that was a big uplift,’ she says.
Mareea began volunteer work in The Salvation Army food bank and later used her administrative skills to work in the office. She now also does volunteer work five days a week, coordinating the growing Maori arm of the local Salvation Army, organising community meals and administrative work. She has even encouraged her children to help out.
Mareea says her work routine is both satisfying and helps keep her depression in check. ‘When you’re able to go out there and make a difference in someone’s life; well, that’s what encourages me and keeps me on target,’ she says.
‘The Salvation Army has helped me climb out of a black hole.’