Chantelle Cobby – Doing what she loves with Shelterbox NZ
When Shelterbox New Zealand advertised for the Fundraising and Marketing Manager position our interest was piqued. It’s an interesting proposition, to be based in NZ but essentially supporting aid and development work internationally. With Shelterbox, that support is wherever disaster has struck.
Scrolling down the posts on Shelterbox NZ’s Facebook page / website is to travel the world and see our world through new eyes, those of people severely impacted by extreme weather events, earthquakes or war. It’s Chantelle Cobby’s job to bring their stories to us, something she feels honoured to do.
Seeing Chantelle’s work come to life on Shelterbox NZ’s social media feed, it’s hard to believe this is her first job out of university.
How to go from Uni into a fabulous Do-Good Job?
Chantelle says that a key learning during her studies at Waikato University was that communication is the foundation for everything. She realised communications – the perceptive use of words and compelling images in storytelling –has the power to shape what we do and how we act. “I really enjoyed exploring how communication can be used as a tool to do good and enable positive change.” Throughout her years at university she tutored students in marketing, leadership and public relations which helped to embed her growing knowledge of communication practice. Chantelle has volunteered with an array of charities and community projects since she was nine. It was through this work that Chantelle knew she wanted to pursue a career in the do-good sector.
“Although I was uncertain around exactly what I wanted to do, through experiences like volunteering alongside Hospice Rotorua’s Fundraising and Marketing Manager and founding The Micro-volunteering Collective – a community group dedicated to breaking down the barriers to volunteering – I discovered the different jobs and tasks that really set my heart on fire.” Chantelle’s words are testimony to the power of volunteering with a charity or doing an internship as a solid starting point to a fulfilling work life in the do-good sector.
Growing from helping tens, to thousands of people
Shelterbox exists to provide relief to people around the world made homeless by natural disaster and conflict. It grew out of a project undertaken by a Rotary group in the UK. Their goal was to package up essential shelter items and deliver them to those who were left with nothing after a disaster. The group’s initial hope was to help 8-10 families per year. Twenty-one years later, Shelterbox is a large disaster-relief organisation, proudly partnering with Rotary, supporting thousands of people.
They provide emergency shelter and tools to disaster-hit families around the world, enabling people to rebuild their lives. Acknowledging every situation is unique, Shelterbox response teams travel to spend time on the ground, working with the people affected, assessing together what the right support might look like and work to deliver what is needed.
Chantelle was already familiar with Shelterbox’s work. “The tangibility of Shelterbox’s aid had struck a chord with me so when the opportunity to work for the organisation – and be a part of making a difference to some of the most vulnerable families in the world, by providing one of the most basic, yet transformative, human rights – I absolutely jumped at it. It’s not every day you have the chance to make an impact globally!”
Making remote working life hum
When asked about whether there was anything she did to help her life and work hum, Chantelle said, “I have to start my day with a delicious fruit smoothie – and I also love kicking things off with a good planning session with my diary! Throughout the day I definitely blast the radio, and after I’m done working, I enjoy reading, podcasts and Netflix. I work from home, so spending time connecting with those that inspire me is vital for me. I especially love having meetings with those from other ShelterBox affiliates around the world, where we can bounce around ideas, and share resources.”
Global displacement is a huge and growing problem in many parts of the world. Whether due to conflict or natural disaster, at present, 104 million people around the world are displaced – this is more than any other time in recorded history. New Zealanders generosity in supporting Shelterbox NZ to contribute to international disaster relief in places like Syria, Cameroon, Somaliland and Ethiopia proves that Kiwi’s care about issues outside our nation’s backyard.
“When we talk about numbers this huge, I think it’s easy to forget the human lives behind them – but each number is a person – and they have each faced unimaginable hardship. To me, being able to do what I love most – things like marketing, communications, and campaigning, to make a difference – even if it’s in just a few of these 104 million lives, is what has always excited me most about this job – and it has continued to be the most rewarding part of what I do.”