Meet the Team

Theo Ursum


Theo has been the Manager of Volunteering Bay of Plenty since February 2014. He moved to Tauranga in 2012 to take on the role of Operations Manager position at the YMCA Tauranga. In this role he was responsible for the running of the office and lead five departments. He quickly joined the Blue Rovers Football Club as a coach, joined the club’s committee as the Sports Director, and is now the Club President.

Before moving to Tauranga he held the position of Out of School Care and Recreation Manager, YMCA Hawkes Bay, from November 2009 until August 2011. During his role there he was responsible for 16 holiday programmes (hosting up to 350 kids per day) and 7 After School Care centres. Theo also sat on the Volunteering Hawkes Bay Board, helping to develop the organisation’s administrative systems and contribute to its business & strategic plans.

Alongside his eight years experience in Non Profit management and governance, Theo holds a Bachelor Degree in Business & Administration and attended several governance workshops to increase his effectiveness as a Trustee.

A Dutch native, Theo moved to New Zealand with his wife, Iris, in 2009. Prior to his immigration, he held various positions in several commercial companies, including the Dutch equivalent of Mitre 10. In his spare time, Theo enjoys tackling DIY projects, bike riding (no surprise there – he’s Dutch!) and tramping.

Iris Beemster

Service Coordinator

Iris Beemster is our Service Coordinator for the Tauranga area and has been with Volunteering Bay of Plenty since September 2013. Iris is the person you are most likely to talk to or meet as she links volunteers with volunteer opportunities at our member organisations. She also liaises with Member Organisations and helps them to plan, instigate and manage their volunteer programmes.

Iris holds a Bachelor Degree in Social Work (BSW) with a focus on community development, a Certificate in Tourism, Travel & Airline Industry, has completed the Essentials of Volunteer Management through Volunteering New Zealand/Xperts (April 2015) and recently became a Careerforce registered assessor for the Volunteering New Zealand Certificate in Managing Volunteers, which is based on the 60 credit, NZQA Level 4 New Zealand Certificate in First Line Management.

Iris grew up in the Netherlands and moved to New Zealand just over 8 years ago.  Before moving here Iris worked in Community Development and has over 10 years of experience in the tourism/hospitality industry both in The Netherlands and abroad.

In her spare time Iris volunteers (mostly) at events, co-founded the ReThink Project, enjoys being outdoors as well as baking and cooking.


Gaylene Street

Service Coordinator

Gaylene is our Regional Service Coordinator. She joined Volunteering Bay Of Plenty (Volbop) in May 2017, firstly as a volunteer and then took on the role of Events & Marketing Coordinator.  Gaylene is also the Volunteer Coordinator, filling in for Anna while she is on maternity leave and is doing this alongside her Regional Coordinator role.

 She moved from Auckland to Tauranga in April 2016 with her husband Wayne whose family roots are in the Bay of Plenty.
Gaylene previously worked for Auckland Council in Property Management and Health & Safety and has extensive experience in Customer Service & Service delivery.  She holds a National Certificate in Business (First Line Management) (Level 4) and a Certificate in Accounting Administration & Payroll.  She has also gained a certificate in the Essentials of Volunteer Management.

Anna Bailey

Volunteer Coordinator

Anna Bailey is our Volunteer Coordinator and she joined Volunteer Bay of Plenty in September 2016. She helps to update HR Policies and Procedures and helps organisations with their Volunteer Management Programme. Anna finished her Masters Degree in Human Resorces and also did another HR course in London to swap her knowledge to English language. She is very keen to stay focused in Human Resources and to learn new things and has gained a certificate in The Essential Skills of Managing Volunteers.

Anna is from small town Humenne in Slovakia. Along with HR she has been studying Teaching of specialized subjects. After her studies she moved to London to work and learn English. During that time she met a Kiwi man, they got married and decided to move to his home land. Anna is very happy to be in New Zealand as she loves the sea and outdoor activities. She has also become an interpreter in Slovak and Czech language for the BOP area so she can use her native language and help others with their integration to New Zealand.

Anna is currently on maternity leave after having her lovely wee son Jack.

Claudia O'Neil

Social Media Specialist

Claudia is our Social Media Specialist. She first joined the team at Volunteering Bay of Plenty as a volunteer in 2016. In early 2018 she joined as a paid staff member, focusing on digital and social media communications. Claudia is finishing her Bachelor degree of Commerce, majoring in Public Policy, with Marketing being a key focus too. She has lived in both Neslon and Wellington but has spent most of her life in sunny Tauranga.


Christina Fitzgerald

Office Support

Christina was born in Hamilton, “the town of fog” she says. Christina is the youngest child in a family of 11. Christina lives at home with her mum which she enjoys very much.

Christina now volunteers her time with Volunteering Bay of Plenty, she helps with keeping our office sparkly clean. On the 5th of December 2016 Christina received an award for completing 500 hours of volunteering. Christina always has a smile on her face and makes the office a fun place to be on a Thursday. She will be starting a work skills course at Toi Ohmai Institute of Technology in February this will hopefully help Christina gain part-time employment.

Christina has worked with Avalon and also the Salvation Army, she also used to work at the Papamoa Takeaways.  When Christina is not volunteering or learning she loves swimming, playing her electric piano and fishing.

Emma Rosling-Heppell


Emma Rosling-Heppell works as a volunteer journalist for VBOP. She moved to New Zealand 3 years ago and now lives in Te Puke with her husband and 5-year old daughter. She works in strategy, business development and project management as her full time job in but has a passion for writing, people and community which led her the voluntary position with VBOP. Emma particularly enjoys hearing the wide variety of stories from the people she interviews and finds inspiration in the work of so many of the not-for-profits she speaks to. Her aim is to help publicise the amazing work of VBOP the and the organisations they work with. In her spare time she is a member of a number of local committees in Te Puke and also helps as a teacher aide at Fairhaven School.

Trish Baars


Trish was born and raised in South Africa. Trish has a Bachelor of Commerce degree and was a member of the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants as an Associate General Accountant.

In 2009, having been a single, working mother for 18 years, Trish took a year out of life for herself and went backpacking around the world.  It was during that year that she met a Kiwi, fell in love and decided to move to New Zealand to be with him.

Trish arrived in Christchurch in January 2011 and endured the earthquakes for 3 years before relocating to Tauranga.  Whilst in Christchurch, Trish volunteered as the Treasurer for the Exchange Branch of the NZ Stamp Collectors’ Club, and as the Treasurer for the Edgeware Christian Spiritualist Church. Trish is now a self-employed contractor with a small but diverse client base for whom she performs bookkeeping and administration services, including payroll administration, report preparation, GST returns, and other similar duties.

Trish’s favourite activities are laughing and the regular weekly meetings of her Laughter Yoga group which go a long way to keeping her sane and happy.