My 10 little lightbulb moments about volunteering at a non-profit

Annelize Muller shares her journey of volunteering at an NPO and the valuable nuggets of wisdom she’s learned along the way.

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Enlightening. That’s the word that comes to mind when I tell you about my last 5 months. I’m a Product Development Manager at a big corporate and have been in the corporate environment for the past 11 years. A seed was planted in my heart a few years ago of giving back to our South African community, to do something more, be part of the change, share, learn and really understand our people, especially those who are not as privileged as I am. Although in saying privileged I sometimes feel that our poorer communities are much richer in true life value than what we could ever be in our individualised world’s, big offices, nice running cars and comfortable houses.

My company graciously approved my request for a 7 month sabbatical to go and learn about the needs of our communities, understand how a NPO works, how corporate and non-profits can hold hands to create a brighter future and to revive my soul so I can come back and be the best leader I can be.

So I share my 10 lightbulb moments I had in the hope that someone can either learn from them or be able to share their own lightbulb moments that will make for a better South Africa today.

Lightbulb #1: The REAL need vs YOUR need to give:

For anyone who knows Maslow’s Hierarchy, he hit the nail on the head. Our poorer communities’ needs are really really basic. Food and security (safety of a home) are what they need and once that need is consistently filled it will release them to start thinking about things such as education, working etc.

But often we give on the level we’re sitting on. For example, when I joined the Life Skills Girls Club team, where I helped facilitate extra-mural activities for teenage girls, I first organised pilates classes. This was an epic fail because it was not aligned with the REAL need but only with my own.

To put it more in perspective, have you ever had a day at school or work without food? Or calculated a maths sum on an empty stomach?

Lightbulb #2: It can’t be about pity or charity, it’s got to be a win-win

In no way is this point supposed to make you feel guilty for having a nice car and a comfortable house. I have got mine.

My question is, what are the factors that got you where you are today? A good education? Books to read? Parents that were happy to talk about the birds and the bees? If you think back about the little things you take for granted that made you a success, I believe those are the small things that YOU can give to the others if you want to see our whole country succeed. And in doing so you might just learn something mind blowing in return…..

Lightbulb #3: Our country is full of potential – harvest it!

At The Domino Foundation’s AGM we had the privilege of listening to 6 youngsters who came through our life skills programme in Gr4 -7 and who are now in their final year of school. I was totally overwhelmed with their hard work ethic, what beautiful leadership quality they displayed and how much they attributed their success to the Life Skills programme. We have endless amounts of talent in our country that just doesn’t have the opportunity to be nurtured or receive guidance from an adult. It’s unforgivable that we let these beautiful people slip through the cracks

Lightbulb #4: Sustained input = sustained output

Just like your car needs to be continuously filled up with fuel to run at its optimum, it’s very much the same with us as human beings. We need consistent input, environment and care for us to really flourish. The talent I spoke about above has been really guided and molded by our youth workers Jomo, Sifiso, Nonte and Thobile, who are amazing, committed and big-hearted individuals. They’re in these kids lives every single week, having conversations with them on a big brother/sister basis and building trust and the type of relationships that change lives. The once a month visit I made to the school cannot come close to the change these young people are making through continually investing their time and energy. 

Sustained input really gives visible sustained output.

Lightbulb #5: Domino has well trained, capable and experienced staff – so empower them with resources to succeed

For a very long time I’ve been living in my ignorant bubble that success (at a corporate) means that the value I add everywhere is equal. For example, that any NPO would need my skills to succeed. This is NOT TRUE!  I was so pleasantly enlightened when I started working at Domino to see that they have all the right skills for the job, are just as committed and skilled as any corporate animal, but with a different purpose in mind. So if we have the right people in place we should really just give them the resources to execute their purpose exceptionally well.

How can we expect them to feed the hungry, educate our country’s kids and care for the needy if we don’t give them the resource to do it? I always thought that just donating money was an easy way out but now I see it (the donation) as an enabler for nonprofits to make the change we don’t have the time or skills to make. ( Lightbulb #4: sustained input = sustained output)

Lightbulb #6: Cost and value are not directly related

This phrase has been floating around for the last few months at The Domino Foundation, about how the price of something simply can’t be equated to what value it brings. For example, one 5 minute conversation (at no Cost to you) can lead to a donation of 100kg’s of soap powder which has a value of 4 months’ worth of clean linen and clothes for our babies in our Babies home.

Or, one 30 second conversation and a person in my network spreading the word (at no cost you or them) can lead to 4 brand new single beds to help out 4 families in need after the floods, which has a value of keeping them off sleeping on a cold damp floor so that they’re able to go to work every day.

So what it costs us to just have conversations and spot opportunities can NEVER translate into the value it can bring to someone else in need. The cost is small but the value is HUGE!

Lightbulb #7: People want to help so give them the opportunity to do so

I’ve been amazed at how gracious all my colleagues at work and my friends have been and how they’ve all given in their own way. Whether it is funding for one of our Girls’ Club sessions or coming to help at Amaoti and pushing aside fears of going into unfamiliar territory – I’ve not once had to beg for the support. Sometimes people just need the opportunity and the giving just overflows.

Lightbulb #8: People need leadership to give sustainably and in the right way.

If the giving is so easy for people then why does it not happen all the time? I now realise that just like anything else, like a personal trainer at gym or a leader of the mom’s group, you still need someone to take up the reigns, give direction and impart knowledge to make sure we give continuously and in the right way. This doesn’t take a huge amount of leadership, skill or cost – just a bit of time, some guts to ask questions and the desire to make a difference. The reward is immeasurable. (See Lightbulb #6: Cost vs Value)

Lightbulb #9: Be connected on both ends

Spending time at Domino was completely different than I originally imagined. I thought I would be out in the field grinding it out but I ended up spending more time in the office sitting in the middle of the NPO cog and listening to conversations and sometimes adding my 2 cents. Hearing the needs inside Domino and being able to respond to relevant opportunities outside Domino to immediately fill their needs helped me understand the organisation so much more. When you have a foot in both worlds magic truly happens. Gold comes from conversations and it’s turned into uplifted lives.

Lightbulb #10: Purpose = drive, motivation, energy, determination, guts & tenacity, which leads to LIFE

I honestly didn’t think I would be going back to my corporate job but I have a new purpose in mind, a new understanding of what opportunity sits within corporate to support NGOs and a salary which can be used to fund and empower these amazing people and the value it can bring to uplift others. I can’t wait to have more conversations, inspire others to think just one step further with what they have, see how corporate can truly support NPO and be a part of a team that I can be proud to say cares about the world and its people. 

Here’s to a lifetime of creating brighter futures!

Categories: Domino Life Skills, Domino Volunteer Of the Week, Learning For Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Join the #DominoRiders for the Amashova Durban Classic

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Join the #DominoRiders as they tackle 2016’s Amashova Durban Classic in support of The Domino Foundation. As one of the country’s biggest cycling races and the oldest classic cycle race cyclists can choose to ride the 35km, 65 km or 106 km. The Domino Foundation has secured a charity batch which provides guaranteed group start time (seeded times allow for earlier start if the rider qualifies) and later closing dates for entries.

This year all funds raised through the #DominoRiders cycling the Amashova Durban Classic will go towards The Domino Foundation’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme. Our heart and vision is to improve the quality of learning and preparation for school readiness at ECD centres in KwaZulu-Natal for the benefit of vulnerable children. We do this through focused empowering of ECD centre educators and owners with essential education and enterprise skills.

By joining the #DominoRiders you also qualify for a truly spectacular cycling package.

Events:

  • 106KM = R900 per entry
  • 65KM = R750 per entry

All entries qualify for;

  • Guaranteed Amashova Durban Classic entry
  • High quality Domino Cycling kit (cycling shirt)
  • And a generous donation towards bettering education for grade R’s!

Contact Shaun Tait (shaun@domino.org.za) for more info and ways to book your tickets!

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Stories from the nursery: 2nd Quarter 2016

Our two Babies Homes, Fairhavens and Ububele, are currently caring for ten babies and toddlers. That ten’s little lives we’re able to provide a safe, stimulating and happy home for. Apart from being busy with the daily routines of caring for ten little ones we’ve also busy with getting our children ready for adoption. That means visits to court, doctors and meetings with the social workers. This past quarter we’ve said goodbye to one of our babies, a seven-month-old, who has been adopted by an awesome local family.

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In Ububele…

Baby R has been with Crisis Care mom Precious for almost a year. The little six year old is at a local Preschool and loves learning new things everyday. Swimming and ballet are some of her favourite after-school activities and she even received a medal for swimming. Baby R is now ready for adoption.

Baby S’s health condition is improving. The five year old boy arrived at the Domino Babies’ Home almost a year ago after he was abandoned at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital. When he arrived he was very sick and it was decided that for his health it was better for him to stay at the home and not go to preschool so that he can gain his strength back – which has been doing in leaps and bounds!

Baby T is a happy twenty month year old baby who is doing well under the care and guidance of the home. Since he’s arrived he’s gained weight and has learned to crawl – keeping the caregivers running around after him!

Baby U is a healthy little two year old girl who was found walking on the street by the police. Precious and the caregivers believe she’s from another African country because she’s been unable to speak in English, isiZulu or Xhosa. After taking some time to settle into her new home she’s finally starting to learn some words in isiZulu and English and is slowly gaining her communication skills back.

Baby V was bought to the social workers by her grandma because it is believed that her mother is unfit to look after her child. A bubbly little ball of joy the seven month old has just learned how to crawl and is enjoying her new transition home.

In Fairhavens…

Baby Q is a seven month old that is almost ready for adoption. He’s been battling with his breathing so has been undergoing testing at Addington Hospital with results still pending. We’re praying for a quick and smooth recovery.

Baby M is a beautiful five year old girl who has been with Domino Babies’ Home for over a year. She loves going to Preschool and always comes home excited and ready for school the next day.

Baby N is brother of Baby M and has really grown up in the home and is learning his place in the house. He’s now a two year old boy, very different from the baby he was  when he arrived .

Baby O is a little girl who just had her third birthday. She’s sister to Baby P, an eleven month old. Both pairs of siblings are in complicated legal cases and have not been abandoned but have been placed in the Domino Babies’ Home by Social workers because their home environment is unsafe. Their cases are both still pending so until they are sortd Domino Babies’ Home will continue to provide a place of refuge and restoration.

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Stories from the classroom: 2nd Quarter 2016

Life orientation, for all South African school learners, is the only platform from which learners can acquire life skills, democracy skills and vital knowledge about our diverse country and the world.* It’s a safe and engaging place where leaners can be taught how to make motivated life choices.

Which is why the Domino Foundation has a whole programme dedicated to educating learners about themselves, their identity and their role in greater society. For the past few years the programme has worked into three schools in Amaoti and helped hundreds of learners navigate these tricky issues. At the recent AGM it became clear that these life skills lessons were making a difference in individuals lives – they were equipping learners with knowledge about themselves and empowering them with the skills to lead a successful life.

They say you have to see it to believe, well here is a video of some of our learners from the Life Skills Programme sharing their views on how the programme has changed their lives.

*http://www.ngopulse.org/article/2016/06/02/preparing-learners-future

 

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Stories from the crèche: 2nd Quarter 2016

The Early Childhood Development Programme has been going from strength to strength, with new Programme Manager, Jessica King, ready to take the reigns and lead it into the next season of growth.

Jessica King is more than qualified for the position and brings her unique learnings from a Bachelor of Social Science in Organisational Physiology & Industrial Sociology and Foundation Phase teaching, into her new role.

Past programme manager, Toni Wilkens, who helped build, establish and nurture the programme from the ground up, has decided to focus her attentions solely on counselling and life skills. We wish Toni only the best in her endeavours.

On the ground, the ECD programme is hoping to move into the area of Waterloo, just north of Durban, to bring quality education and training to fifteen new  crèches.

Another exciting new venture is moving into the ushobeni community of Port Shepstone. With the support of the JT Ross Group our ECD programme is aiming to increase active learning and school readiness for five crèches in the area.

As the Amaoti crèches reach the end of the successful ECD programme our trusted field workers will start working in the new community of Waterloo and uShobeni, meeting with crèche owners and teachers and understanding how they can help implement active learning.

One of programme’s goals is to help the crèche become more than just a babysitting service and teach them how to put stimulated learning into practice. This prepares children for ‘big school’, giving them the best chance at a successful schooling career. The ECD programme also aims to empower creche owners to be successful small business owners, giving them the tools and knowledge to take control of their business.DSC_0062

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#KnowYourNPO #Domino

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If you’ve ever wondered what the Domino Foundation actually does… here’s your chance to #KnowYourNPO! This quarter we’re unpacking what the Domino Foundation does on a larger scale.

#1: We are a group of like-minded individuals that believe in the power of a changed life. We have a range of community outreach programmes that focus on the individual, to empower, uplift and transform their lives so they too can impact the nation and others around them. We currently impact the lives of just over 4000 individuals every single day, ranging from 0 to 18 years of age.

#2: We seek to assist and empower the neediest in communities to pave the way for a brighter tomorrow. Our dream is to equip individuals physically, emotionally, socially, cognitively and spiritually to enable purpose-filled lives.

#3: We manage focused interventions and initiatives operating into the spaces of education, nutrition, injustice, child support and business development. So depending on your company’s CSR policy and specific area of impact, we have a diverse offering across multiple geographic locations to suit your needs with the ultimate goal being the same: to empower, uplift and transform our communities.

#4: We believe that for effective social change to take place within communities, we need to work effectively in three key areas. Namely social charity, social justice and social entrepreneurship to holistically transform communities.

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#5: Over the years we have witnessed changed lives, changing other lives and we’ve termed this #TheDominoEffect. As we have impacted, uplifted and transformed an individual’s life, they have gone and transformed their immediate family’s lives, and they have gone on to impact and transform their community’s lives and so a beautiful ripple effect, or #DominoEffect of changed lives takes shape. We believe that you change a community, by changing an individual!

#6: We rely on support from a host of like-minded businesses, individuals, partner organisations, schools, churches, international supporters & activists and sporting enthusiasts. So if you know of any, start your own #DominoEffect and share the love!

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#7: We couldn’t do what we do without an AMAZING team. These people LOVE doing what they do and what nothing more than to uplift, encourage, support and transform people’s lives. Dedicated, inspired, driven and fun, our teams are truly the best around!

#8: Ways to support ALL

There are SO many ways for EVERYONE to get involved. Whether you’re in school, a group of interested staff members, corporate’s looking to satisfy your #BEE scorecard or simply an individual with a heart for others, there is space for YOU to join the #DominoEffect.

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#9: Our support process is super simple. SUPPORT > RECEIVE DOCUMENTATION > FEEL GOOD. Repeat!

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Stories from the Kitchen: 2nd Quarter 2016

The Feeding Programme has been exceptionally busy over the last few months, an exciting sign in realising our vision of communities where no child is to hungry to concentrate or learn. This is especially important as more and more families battle to provide enough nutritious meals in South Africa’s growing food crisis which has been further negatively affected by the weakening rand. Simply, families cannot afford to buy food and if they do it’s too little or not nearly nutritious enough.

In light of this the Domino Foundation bought attention to World Hunger Day through the “Fight the Plight” initiative, raising funds for our feeding programmes that distribute over 3500 meals every school day through our two sandwich kitchens (Durban and Toti) and our soup Kitchen in Brookdale. Our Relief Kitchen provides relief hampers and meals to families in crisis.

The month of May also saw the exciting launch of the Sandwich Kitchen in Amanzimtoti in partnership with Kingsway Church International. Working closely with local schools to identify the most vulnerable learners the Toti Sandwich provides delicious sandwiches to these schoolchildren who don’t have a packed lunch. The Toti Feeding Kitchen is currently making and delivering 30 sandwiches to each of the three participating schools daily with hopes to expand the programme soon.

Just to get a snapshot of how massive and far reaching the feeding programme is,  for the month of May alone 78 640 meals were prepared and delivered to vulnerable communities of Durban and 600 sandwiches were prepared and delivered from Toti. The Feeding Programme has also welcomed three new Amaoti creches totalling 50 more kids and is about to start training four new schools in the Point area – Pickering Street, Winder Street and Point Rd (Mahatma Ghandi Rd). Children from these schools will receive JAM porridge daily.

If you have a heart for feeding and want to know more about our programme and how to get involved have a look at our detailed and informative #KnowYourNPO posts on #Feeding. We’d love to have you!

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Real stories from real people at the AGM

The Domino Foundation’s AGM was an evening filled with inspiring stories of change. Not only did it highlight the amazing work the non-profit achieved in 2015, but it painted a picture of the year ahead and how we will continue to change lives. As relationships with partners in Cape Town and Johannesburg mature the Domino Foundation will move into new regions of influence, and this combined with the right support, capacity and better positioning enables us to spread the  Domino Effect far and wide.

In 2015:

  • We opened our second Babies’ Home in February which allowed us to look after more orphaned and vulnerable babies. We cared for 25 children during the year, of which 8 were adopted and their new life began.
  • We produced 891 611 meals and expanded to a third kitchen to handle relief feeding.The Domino Foundation was able to respond to the xenophobic attacks in April through this Relief Kitchen, providing over 49 000 meals in 10 days for the displaced foreigners.
  • We worked with 793 learners across 4 schools, with our Life Skills Programme.
  • And we saw 1059 children being taught across 23 Early Childhood Development Centres in Amaoti.

Listen to what some of our Life Skills learners had to say about how the programme has changed their lives… it’s powerful!

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New season, new roles

With a new season comes new leadership. As the Domino Foundation increases its capacity to reach more communities there have been some internal shifts to ensure that the hands who do this work are passionate, skilled and ready to impact lives.

At the beginning of the year Mickey Wilkins stepped down as CEO of the Domino Foundation. After twelve incredible years of leading the non-profit Mickey has now decided to look after the sustainability of Domino and has started Domino Business. As of February 2016 the Domino Foundation welcomed in a new CEO, Richard Mun-Gavin, lead pastor of Cogs Church. Not only does Richard bring a wealth of pastoral experience but his passion for people means he’s more than ready to take Domino into a new season of growth.

Shaun Tait has officially moved into the role of  COO and is overseeing the day to day operations of all the programmes and its staff. Although a tall task Shaun has slid into his role with effort and ease.

After heading up the ECD team since its inception Toni Wilkins has decided to focus her attentions on the Life Skills programme and counselling at the Door of Hope Counselling Centre. The team is now been led by the capable Jessica King, who moved over from donor relations. Jessica is more than qualified for the position and brings her unique learnings from her studies, a Bachelor of Social Science in Organisational Psychology and Industrial Sociology and a Foundation Phase Teaching qualification and is currently Clinical Psychology. Jessica also handles the Domino volunteers.

And in the feeding programme Cathy Whittle has taken over the reigns as Programme Manager. Cathy comes from the cooking industry and has the heaps of experience needed to steer the many Domino feeding projects in the right direction. In case you’ve forgotten, that’s our Sandwich Kitchen, Soup Kitchen and Relief Kitchen. Past Project Manager, Brenda Scheepers has moved onto an exciting venture with Domino Business, which you can read more about here.

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Categories: Domino ECD, Domino Effects Newsletter, Domino Feeding, Domino Life Skills, Domino People, Fairhavens, Feeding, Learning For Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Domino launches Toti Sandwich Kitchen

With a heart to feed the vulnerable the Domino Foundation has partnered with Kingsway Church International to open up a new Sandwich Kitchen in Amanzimtoti.

The Toti Sandwich Kitchen works closely with local schools to identify the most vulnerable learners by providing delicious sandwiches to schoolchildren who don’t have a packed lunch. Empty tummies pose a serious barrier to learning, so by providing nutritious sandwiches children are able to concentrate in class. The Toti Feeding Kitchen is currently making and delivering 30 sandwiches to each of the three participating schools daily with hopes to expand the programme soon.

Hunger is something that an estimated 10.7 million South Africans face as they live on or below the poverty line of *R11 per day. The Domino Foundation’s feeding programme aims to support individuals rise above the line and since the beginning of the year The Domino Foundation has prepared and distributed 94 500 sandwiches.

“One of the key objectives of The Domino Foundation Feeding programme is to enhance learning through meeting children’s physical needs for health and balanced nutrition. We are excited to partner with Kingsway Church International in the South Coast area and align our visions through feeding,” said Shaun Tait, Chief Operating Officer at The Domino Foundation.

We encourage businesses and individuals who are wanting to assist in any way to contact Cheryl Dann at the church office on 031 903 8331 or by emailing feedingtoti@domino.org.za. The project is looking for enthusiastic volunteers to prepare the sandwiches and regular donations of eggs, mayonnaise, butter, bread, polony, peanut butter. The Domino Foundation offers a range of innovative solutions for meaningful CSI spend and are able to provide all documentation required for B-BBEE and tax exemption purposes.

*Statistics South Africa, 2015

Toti Feeding Kitchen

With World Hunger Day on May 28 it seemed only apt to ‘officially’ launch the Toti Feeding Kitchen on 22 May 2016, part of the Domino Foundation Feeding Programme and operated from Kingsway Church International.From left to right: Cathy Whittle (Domino Foundation Feeding Manager), Tarin Stevenson (Donor Relations Domino Foundation), Shaun Tait (Chief Operating Officer Domino Foundation), Cheryl Dann (Toti Feeding Kitchen Manager Domino Foundation/ KCI), Richard Mun-Gavin (Lead Elder of Church of the Good Shepard), Greg MacKinnon (Lead Elder of KCI), Sifiso Hlongwa (Life Skills facilitator Domino Foundation), Cliff Dann (Social Justice Ministry KCI).

 

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