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The Buzz Nelson
  • 166 Tahunanui Drive
  • Tahunanui
  • Nelson 7011
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Meet the Team

The Buzz team are skilled, experienced, and qualified in working with young people with diverse needs.

The Buzz is a work skills programmme established in 2021 by a group of local parents. The families recognized that their young people with learning differences, faced many barriers when making the transition from school into the community.

Helen McDonnell: Buzz Committee Co-Chair

Kia ora. I am passionate about creating opportunities for young people living with diverse needs so that they can flourish in the community. I believe it is a collective responsibility to ensure that no one is left behind in society and I enjoy working collaboratively to meet that goal. My experience over the years includes working as an Occupational Therapist, Disability Coordinator, Teacher aide and in governance roles. I am a mum of two young adults who have support needs and when I get some precious free time I love to create artwork, read, bike and go for beach and bush walks.

Jane Linn: Buzz Committee Co-Chair & Operational Team

Kia Ora, The Buzz is a result of big dreams, inspired and motivated families, and many hours of hard work. It is a huge privilege to watch the young people blossom in this environment. I am a passionate advocate of inclusion for everyone and I see young people with diverse needs as positive contributors to our workplaces and communities, they are the ‘icing on the cake’. My varied background is in nursing, social work, and teaching, and when I’m not ‘Buzzing’ or teaching, you will probably find me on the tennis court, biking, swimming, or enjoying precious family time.

Ali Beasley: Buzz Co-Secretary, Committee member & Grant Writer

I am a mother of two neurodiverse young people. The vision of The Buzz was to create a safe place to enable and support the incredible gifts of our diverse future workforce. I worked as a social worker for deaf adults with other learning needs in the UK. I also supported ‘youth at risk’ when working at Whenua Iti, my primary role was that of Grant Writer networking with various organisations and trusts to secure essential funding for our important work. Using all my lived experiences by collaborating with like minded people, I want to make a difference for our rangatahi to increase connections within the community and have the opportunites they deserve. I support my daughter full time. I love books, sea swimming, beach walks and listening to Jazz.

Sal Randall: Buzz Committee & Operational Team

Hi, I am a support worker, ex-nurse, social worker and I volunteer at the Buzz. I’ve worked with disaffected youth, blind children, adults in mental health and set up holiday and after school programmes. I am passionate about people belonging and having a place. I love adventures in ‘Dolly’ the camper and swimming km’s at the pool.

Graham Warner – Committee Member and Treasurer

Hi there, I was privileged to be invited to join The Buzz Committee by Helen McDonnell to provide guidance with governance and managing The Buzz finances. I have worked for various financial institutions all my working life and feel honoured to be part of this group of hardworking, caring people. The Buzz is a fantastic organisation dedicated to helping a great bunch of young people striving to make their way in the world.

Alice Lee: Committee member

Hi! I am Alice. I am passionate about equality and inclusion. My background is education, post-school transition programme startup, fitness coaching and transitioning planning for individuals with disabilities. I have lived and worked in Hong Kong and Singapore before calling New Zealand as my home. Making use of my experience to help my friends with disabilities achieve their own goals in the community is my lifelong purpose. In my free time, I read, listen to lots of music, go to the gym, take long walks and weed in my garden.

Lucy McDonnell: Committee Young Persons’ Rep & Buzz member

I like building up my skills at The Buzz and I am a good team worker. I get a “buzz” out of helping people! Making friends makes me happy. When I am not at The Buzz I spend a couple of days at NMIT and do some part time work. I enjoy swimming, playing basketball and photography. Most of all I love to dance and sing in my room.

Alfie Linn: Committee Young Persons’ Rep & Buzz member

Hi everyone, I like working at the ‘nook’ cafe and helping out. I like to make sure the customers are happy. I like being at the Buzz because I help the Food Bank and spend time with my friends. When I’m not at the Buzz I like playing lots of sports, I played table tennis for NZ and was the flag bearer.

Jana Boensch - Work Skills Facilitator

I moved to New Zealand in 2009 after I finished my degree as a Qualified Educator in Special Needs Education in Germany. My favourite things to do are travel and spending time with family and friends. I believe that anything is possible if you set your mind to it and I love to be creative in finding ways to work towards achieving goals.

Gera Verheul: Volunteer Operations Team

Kia ora I love embracing the diversity of people, all our differences make for a better society. I am an autism coach working with people of all ages, with families, schools and organisations. On Fridays I volunteer at the Buzz group, it's my highlight of the week, The young people are great fun and inspirational, with many hidden talents. I love that we can help other organisations like the Foodbank and Restore. I'm passionate about creating the right environment so people can succeed. To treat people equally you have to treat them differently. In my spare time I love to swim in the sea all year, I like going for hikes and bike rides, pottering in my garden and I'm a keen knitter and crocheter.

Michele Columbus - The Buzz Committee member, Co Secretary, Co-Grant Writer and Administrative Support

I feel very blessed to have been invited to join The Buzz Committee. The mission of The Buzz being centred around the needs of our wonderful “differently abled” young folk, is very exciting.
Throughout my son’s life, I have been involved in various groups and always taken active roles on committees and Trusts. We have lived in a number of regions around the country, giving me broad experience with many groups catering for young adults with diverse needs. With the vision of the Enabling Good Lives principles and the person-centred philosophy, the mission of The Buzz will grow within our Top of the South community and be a very positive influence in the lives of our young adults within our region.