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Laters JP: One final chat with our outgoing Zeal West Manager

After five glorious years of working with us in West Auckland, JP is moving on to the next adventure in his life. We reflected with him on the ups and downs of managing a youth centre in Aotearoa.

Pictured: The West crew collecting their cheque from The Trusts. Oosh!


How did you first get involved with Zeal?

I got involved through a mutual friend Pete Wood (who looks like white Jesus). He introduced me to Matt Grey (Zeal West Manager at the time, now our CEO) and there was ​a job ​opportunity going at the tim​e​. 
Not long after ​that, I was offered​ ​to work for Zeal as a part-time Events Coordinator. ​I was 31, earning twice as much as a mechanic, and was about to be married – I really had no idea what I was thinking. Five years later though… I’m the man, still winning in life today. #noregrets #shindlersquote #icouldofdonemore 

What does your typical day at Zeal look like? 

​As a manager, lots of meetings, emails, more meetings, meetings about meetings, thinking about meetings, then we meet and discuss things that we will discuss
again at the next meeting. With the challenges, I’ve grown a healthy addiction to coffee and cussing, two things I tried really hard in my Christian life to be more disciplined in. Fail, lol.
Kicking it with my staff team and hanging with my young people. My kids now wipe the floor with me at Tekken on Xbox. Unconsciously, I was challenging them
to improve their game play… It’s what I keep telling myself to numb the pain of losing.
Doing reports – have to put that in ​here​ to make it sound like I’m real important.
​Events, programmes, youth work, studios, kids going crazy, hot showers that set off the fire alarms, toilets that get blocked up with poos and them grease traps.
The usual antics.

What are some times you’ll never forget from being with Zeal? 

​I will never forget our hui’s, managers retreats, the friendly faces and dodgy places we find ourselves in. All part of the amazing adventure that is Zeal.
I learnt so much and have such great memories of all the great people involved that I cannot count with my fingers and toes, eyes, ears, mouth and nose.
I love you all. 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get in to youth work? ​

Don’t do it. Get a real job. If you want to make an impact, if you want to change the world, if you want to be someone important then this is not for you. 
If you want to live on a budget, if you want to live passionately, if you want to love young people till it hurts, if you want to laugh because its actually funny
or cry because they have serious issues that you care about, if you love making miracles with absolutely nothing – then this is for you. 
It’s not a daydream, it’s a reality, along with your own frailties and brokenness to consider.

What are your plans for the future? ​

Get a real job. Make an impact, change the world and be someone important. Haha.

What are some of your favourite things to do in West Auckland? ​

Eat and eat some more… Also, op-shopping here is dope. I got some new pants last time. I was down to one pair of pants
because one ripped at the crotch, one got cut up into shorts, one was too tight at the legs (I have well defined calve muscles),
​and the other had some coffee stains at the back so it looked like skidmarks.

What do you hope to see from Zeal going forward? 

​More young lives living positively and empowering their own communities and cultures.  

Read more from West Auckland:

“Don’t settle for the status quo. Young people around NZ need incredible champions in their lives, and whether you know it or not… you walk in those shoes just by working at Zeal, or supporting the work Zeal does with young people around the country.”

“I’m really excited about seeing Live For Tomorrow continue to make an impact in our community and overseas. All our projects are incredibly inspiring, and I’m very fortunate to be involved in them.”