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Woman of heart and devotion


MF - Zonta Dawson copy-276Guests and members of Mangawhai’s Zonta Club were recently treated to an inspiring talk from a guest speaker who has devoted her time and energy into helping others.

Speaking from the Mangawhai Golf Club on Anzac Day, Lyn Dawson, Zonta’s nominee for the clubs 50 Women of Achievement Award, outlined her story of charitable activities.

“Lyn is a woman who embodies the ideals of Zonta of empowering women through service and advocacy,” spokeswoman for Zonta, Sue Poynter says. “And she refuses to take no for an answer.”

Dawson has been a key influence in setting up projects that assist vulnerable and marginalised women and children, her efforts helping in the areas of developing literacy skills and providing safety, warmth and comfort to those in need.

In 1999, Dawson made a significant difference to the inmates of Mt Eden Women’s Prison when she established a charitable trust aimed to assist female prisoners in developing their reading and writing abilities.

Under her management, Books in Prison was created and launched with an internal library and tutoring available for the women. The initiative was taken nationwide with the programmes set up in female correctional facilities in South Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Unfortunately, the programme had to close due to a lack of funding in 2011 but the gift of literacy for the women who took part lived on, their newly-honed skills learnt behind bars enabling wider opportunities once they stepped outside the prison gates.

“This became a lynch-pin in changing the lives of these women,” Dawson says. “Many went on to further education which allowed them to break free from their previous violent lives.”

Another of Dawson’s projects, The Magnolia House proposal, is also designed to help women once they have been discharged from prison or for those living on the streets.

In conjunction with the Auckland Regional Homeless Action task force, the Magnolia House offers a safe place hope for women who otherwise are being forced back to violent homes once they have finished their jail term.

“Lyn’s work with women in prisons brought her to the realisation that there were very limited options or support for women once they left prison,” Poynter says. “Hence her desire to see a facility to assist these women.”

Dawson also co-founded the now widely popular Peggy Purl community programme, reviving the idea of groups of knitters crafting warm and colourful blankets with odd balls of wool, from New Zealand’s depression days of the 1930’s. Dawson’s co-founder, Adair Eady, is the daughter of Peggy Huse, the women who inspired the original knitting movement.

“Women are meeting to do something meaningful but are also enriched by the sense of camaraderie in Peggy Purl circles,” Dawson says. “It is giving women the opportunity to meet and communicate with other women in a friendly non-threatening environment while doing well for others.”

Since reforming in 2012, Peggy Purl have gifted over 1000 blankets to children in need around the country. Now supported by Jetstar’s Flying Start grant, new groups, including schools and new immigrants, are joining the cause.

“Lyn's talk was very inspiring and well received,” Poynter says. “She is a woman who is full of energy and works tirelessly to see her ideas and vision through to fruition.”

Interest is growing in forming a Peggy Purl in Mangawhai. Please contact Emma at Mangawhai Museum if interested.

n Mangawhai Zonta is hosting their major fundraising event this year, a Midwinter Dinner and Ball on June 25 at Hakaru Hall. Tickets are available from Bammas or the Mangawhai Pharmacy, $80 per person which includes a welcome drink, three course dinner and live music.

ACHIEVER: Sue Poynter (left) introduces Lyn Dawson at a recent Zonta meeting.

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