There's sneaky behind-the-scenes fundraising shenanigans going on in Christchurch, and often we have no idea until the funds appear in our bank account. Read on to learn more . . .
We recently received a very cool email:
Anna, Maddie, Mel, Rach and Bex from Holmes Solutions did a fitness event to raise money for The Christchurch Aunties, with tremendous success. They each ran/walked 25km, rowed 25km and biked 100km in one day - which sounds pretty exhausting. The generous team at Koha Fitness kindly let them run their event onsite.
"We had a few people from our work support us for the whole day with other people popping in to cheer us on - we're honoured to support such an amazing charity" explains Bex.
This kind and very fit team raised $2,190, which makes a big impact on a small organisation like ours.
The Holmes Solutions event got us thinking about how Aunties of all genders and backgrounds are doing cool fundraising stuff out there. An important part of our job is requesting funding for operational costs, Jan The Van, and our security fund. We know that networking and diplomatically asking for cash is a thing that not-for-profits have to do. BUT . . . it's particularly awesome when Aunties out there just go and get good sh*t done, then surprise us with the funds! Thank you to all those who fundraise for us - this image is just a snippet of the people who have supported us financially this year:
When Heather from The Christchurch Aunties asks if your organisation would like jars of mosturiser, you just say yes and wait and see what arrives. What arrived, was boxes and boxes of Little Genie moisturiser. So what do we do with it and how far did it go?
To start with, we put one in every food parcel going out. Men and women all got a jar. But the moisturiser kept on coming and we decided to send it out further. Onto our FREE table it went! Anyone coming in could help themselves to a jar and the reactions were wonderful. So many people said “For free? Really? Can I take one for my Mum, my neighbour, my daughter, the teachers at school, the kindy staff?” Still the moisturiser kept arriving.
We offered it to every group that runs a program in our building. The Plunket 'Building Awesome Whanau' parents and staff took away a jar each. Craft Group, The Women’s Fellowship, Tai Chi, Appetite For Life, Senior Chef, Gentle Exercise, Kids Hub, Wonder Girls, the New Zealand Indoor Bowls group, our Community Lunch attendees, Nurse Maude . . . and still that moisturiser kept arriving.
Emma, one of our Partnership Community Workers, took it to schools and organisations she supports. Linwood College and Te Kupenga o Aranui school have a stash to hand out to anyone who needs a wee boost. They gave it to whanau, clients and colleagues. It made them feel like Santa, and thankful to be able to share a free gift. The recipients felt some disbelief that this little jar of magic was being given to them for free. They were grateful and thankful. It made them feel special and cherished. These organisations say that it is a privilege to be trusted with gifting this little thing to others. By sharing it with them we have strengthened our relationships and encouraged the feeling of community among us all.
The thing about this moisturiser is that giving a jar to someone who feels a bit low or just might need the pleasure of receiving a free gift, benefits both sides – the giving makes us just as happy as the person who receives it.
In this week of Mental Health Awareness it seems timely to acknowledge The Christchurch Aunties for allowing us to share this gift with others. These jars of happiness have gone far and wide, the ripple effect of giving has spread out so every party involved has felt the warmth and aroha that a gift can bring. We are so very fortunate to work in a field that allows us the endorphin rush of giving every day. Thank you so much to whoever sent all those jars to The Christchurch Aunties to distribute – you have no idea how much good has been achieved!
Aroha Nui, Dorothy.
Coordinator, Linwood Avenue Community Corner Trust
In the early days of The Christchurch Aunties, there was Heather M's single garage in Woolston, a vision shared with our early board members Heather L, Andrea, Karen, and Sarah, and a whole lot of number 8 wire. But The Christchurch Aunties would not exist if it wasn't for 'H' - a whaiora who moved to Christchurch in 2014 to escape violence.
Fast forward a few years, and Heather M was coordinating Christmas campaigns and general toiletry supplies for Te Whare Hauora and Battered Women's Trust. Then a decision was made to Make This A Proper Thing. Heather L joined the team, a bank account was set up, Trust documents were started, a domain name purchased and suddenly we were fancy. Reetah (Casino Court Motor Lodge) and Andrea (The Mohair Store) came on board as drop-off points.
Operating from our lounges, Cam's top bunk, and a friend's garage until we leased the 'Aunties Attic'. Organised chaos.
Over the past 4 years, we've moved from our garages and lounges, to the Aunties Attic and now to the big HQ. We started working with 2 women's refuges. Then with 4 women's refuges and the YWCA. We now supply donations to FIFTEEN organisations (even more at Christmas). We're getting big, but our vision remains the same: A Canterbury where all women and children who have experienced family violence or vulnerability, are safe, well supported and resourced through organisations that we collaborate with.
The Heathers and Elise moving into the Attic 2018, and moving out 2021
You'll often see us mentioning Safelets on social media and in presentations to groups. We purchased 40 Safelets in 2020 (up from 20 the previous year) thanks to generous donations from individuals and community groups. But what exactly is a Safelet, and how do they work? Read on!
Safelet is a discreet alarm worn around the wrist that keeps the wearer connected to their chosen guardians, 24/7. It works with a mobile phone and Bluetooth, so the wearer is protected wherever they are.
The impact of a Safelet
We sat down with Sharron from Safelet to get the low-down into the impact the Safelet has on women.
"Although it's a simple device to operate, the Safelet is incredibly valuable. In the event an alarm is activated, the most important information is sent to the 'guardians' to ensure correct help is organised in a timely manner - for example the location of the person who activated the alarm, a live stream recording of what is occurring and the option to call 111. Safelet was designed to enable women who feel at risk to alert those who they trust to help, quickly and with the simple push of a button."
Safelets that The Christchurch Aunties have funded have empowered recipients to testify in court, begin a new job, and start walking their children to school.
When help is required, time is of the essence. To be able to alert those who guard you and will get help quickly, can be the difference between life and death.
How we distribute Safelets
The organisations we collaborate with send a Safelet request via our regular order form. When we see the request, we immediately make the payment to the Safelet team and email Sharron to notify her. She makes contact with the organisation to arrange the delivery and set-up of the Safelet withing 48 hours.
How to help us fund Safelets
Each Safelet is $299, and we're anticipating donating 60 this year. You can donate directly into our client security account at:
The Christchurch Aunties does not receive any commission from the distribution of Safelet.
The feedback we receive about our impact comes via staff and kaimahi at the community organisations we collaborate with.
I have accessed the ChCh Aunties for a range of items, clothing, household goods, pamper packs, cleaning packs, vouchers, toys, safety items (Safelets and security cameras) and more. It is an amazing service and the feedback I receive from whaiora once they receive their items is always positive and they are so appreciative and grateful.
Sam, Whānau Intervention Practitioner, He Waka Tapu
From a dolls house being delivered to a little girl who desperately wanted one, to sheets for beds, to deodorant and toothpaste. No matter what we have a need for, the ChCh Aunties have never let us or our clients down which just constantly brings joy to us all. Women who have to start from scratch when leaving abusive relationships need to know that organisations like The Christchurch Aunties are there to help where possible. Thank you Aunties, we love you!
Tania, Manager, YWCA
I'm so very grateful, that through the kindness of Sharron and the ChCh Aunties I was able to be given a Safelet. It's such an amazingly little piece of technology that is going to give me such peace of mind knowing my network of guardians are right there if I need them. I cannot express how much it means to me to have this, and that both Sharron, and the Christchurch Aunties made it possible. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!! ♥️ I will pay this kindness forward somehow!"
Safelet donation recipient
I wanted to pass on a big thank you for collecting those items from my neighbour, Alison. She felt so good after donating them, knowing they were going to such a good purpose.
Luan, Family Support Worker, Aviva
I gifted the client the handbag full of goodies yesterday. She had the biggest smile on her face and was very happy and pleased to receive the gift when I handed it to her and told them it was Christchurch Aunties. When I was leaving she was looking forward to having a good look to see what was in the bag. The backpack was the perfect bag for a young mum to be able to store all baby’s belongings in it put it on her back and head out for a walk.
Nicola, Family Support Worker, Early Start Project
Please accept my sincerest thanks for your support of my client and her children. She is absolutely over the moon with the table and chairs you organised for her. She reports that these have made her feel really house proud, and she looks forward to having friends over for dinner. She explained that she could not believe that someone would go so far out of their way to arrange and pick up furniture for her family.
Nicole, Social Worker Team Leader, Family Works
Thank you so much for the beautiful phone. I am very grateful for your generosity.
Phone donation recipient
Thank you very much for helping this young lady in such a sad time for her and her daughter. I rang her after I spoke to you and told her the Christchurch Aunties were going to give her some petrol vouchers, she burst out crying. You may not know how much this has helped her but I assure you these petrol vouchers have taken so much stress off this client.
Pauline, Community Advocate, Battered Women's Trust
No words can express our gratitude and thanks for your on-going support and generous donations. It is very much appreciated and I know that the recipients of these items are truly grateful. You and your team have played such an important part in bringing a ray of sunshine into their lives.
Linda, Executive Management, Nga Maata Waka
Thank you so much. I honestly appreciate your organization so much!! You make this whole process so much easier for us all.
Niki, Whānau Kaimahi, He Waka Tapu
We were recently approached by an organisation who requested a birthday cake and voucher for a boy. He had experienced some traumatic circumstances over the past 12 months and had never had a birthday party before. Thanks to a ChCh Auntie who makes fabulous birthday cakes (when she's not teaching secondary school) and a Westfield voucher leftover from Christmas, we 'came to the party'. It's not always about furniture and toiletries. Sometimes it's about cake and love.
Our simple elevator pitch describes what we do. "The Christchurch Aunties provides practical support and donations for women and children who have experienced family violence and hardship". However this doesn't explain how the magic happens. This blog post paints a picture of a typical week, worked by a staff member who is paid (14 hours per week), and an amazing team of Volunteers.
Check request spreadsheet from organisations. Someone urgently needs a Safelet. Set up required payment, arrange Sharron at Safelet to connect with the organisation. Meet (lovely) volunteers at the Aunties Attic who unpack boxes kitchen donations and measure bedlinen. Five people have contacted us with furniture to donate. Start matching these donations with requests. Make enquiries regarding quality and location of donations. Deliver kitchen gear, toiletries, Love Grace handbags, pillow cases, a slow cooker, and box of moisturisers to 5 different organisations around town. Chat with the staff at the organisations about progress and any specific upcoming needs.
Update request spreadsheet. Coordinate pick up and delivery of 3 single beds, a queen bed, coffee table, microwave, and two fridges via email and Facebook Messenger with donors and volunteers. Work on funding application. Pick up a single bed in Jan the Van. Update our ChCh Aunties community of progress on Facebook.
Update Facebook communications with current requests and good news stories. Two more people have a dining table and drawers to donate. Hop in Jan the Van and quickly pick them up. Update volunteer schedule and tally of hours. An organisation calls, urgently needing some support with emergency flights. These are arranged. A call out on Facebook is made for some financial donations to cover this.
Work through emails. Continue coordination of pick up and delivery of furniture. Create graphics for upcoming campaign. Deliver toiletries to an organisation. Head to Aunties Attic to tidy and shelve incoming donations. Start preparing report for upcoming Board Meeting.
Deliver electrical donations to tag and tester to be assessed. Take a trip to Eco-Drop to discard of donations deemed unsuitable. Pick up a bookshelf. Present to a community group about The Christchurch Aunties. Work on funding application. Plan donation collections and deliveries for the weekend.
I’ve had my period for over three decades now. Yay me. Over that time I’ve experienced many emotions. I got my first Lady Time on my 13th birthday. It was so not the present I wanted or expected.
I was underwhelmed.
I quickly worked out the joys of pads and tampons. And over the next fifteen years, apart from the odd cramp and sugar craving, menstruation wasn’t much of an issue for me. I bought the stuff. I soaked up the blood. I got on with life.
I was ambivalent.
When the time came for children, I stopped contraception and fell pregnant before my knickers even hit the floor (both times!) Suddenly my period was doing something way more constructive than soaking tampons and staining underwear. It was helping me grow two brand new humans!
I was overjoyed.
After both pregnancies and a stint of breastfeeding, my body announced its renewed fertility with the resumption of my monthly flow.
I was resigned.
Over the following years my period and I bumbled along together. However, I became more and more aware of the impact my menstrual products were having on the environment, the possible risks they posed to my physical health, as well as resenting just how much they cost month after month. After lots of research, I took the plunge and bought a menstrual cup. I was an immediate convert. I gave them to mortified friends begging them to see how easy they were to use and how much cash it would save them.
I was evangelical.
A couple of years ago, I saw a news article about women who made menstrual kits for girls in developing countries. Where there is a choice between feminine hygiene and food, the choice will always be food. This leaves girls to make whatever solutions they can just to stay in school. The best options are rags or paper. The worst are cornhusks, bark, or even corncobs and stones inserted internally to try and stop their flow. Many girls cannot even use these options and will simply stay at home sitting on a piece of cardboard for five days. I immediately looked up the organization Days for Girls and started sewing for them.
I was sad.
However, since I started sewing reusable pads for girls in Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands there has been more and more media coverage about period poverty right here in Aotearoa. Girls who stay home from school and university because they cannot afford pads or tampons. Women forced to literally 'go on the rag' each month. Girls getting 'the injection' because it’s cheaper than menstrual products.
I was indignant.
I’d been so worried about the poor girls overseas, I’d been blind to the massive amount of period poverty suffered by Kiwi women. Women being punished financially every month for having a healthy reproductive system. Bearing the cost of an event they have no control over. Often it is the most vulnerable of our women who are suffering the worst – the women forced to flee to the safety of refuges with nothing but the clothes on their back. It’s hard enough for these women to ask for safety and refuge. Can you imagine how humiliating it must be to ask for pads or tampons?
I was sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated and discouraged all at the same time.
What can one little person do? I’m just me. I do OK but I’m not wealthy. My heart is big but my wallet is not. What can I do? I came to the conclusion I cannot help all the women all the time. But I can help some of the women, some of the time, when I am able. Things I can do:
I am determined.
I am resolute.
Are you with me?
Since writing this blog post, I have managed to speak to Kimberli at MyCup NZ and she is delighted to have Christchurch Aunties as one of her community partners. So for every menstrual cup we are able to purchase, their community programme will donate an extra cup.
I had the privilege today of speaking about reusable period products to a support group of women at the Battered Women’s Trust (one of the Refuges the Christchurch Aunties regularly assists). All the ladies present were interested in the current trends of reusable products (cloth pads, period knickers and menstrual cups). They were astounded at how much a cup could save them, but every one balked at finding the initial outlay in purchasing one. I told them I’d talk to some ladies I know and see what we could get sorted.
If you can help, please send your contribution to the Christchurch Aunties bank account 38-9023-0645654-00 coded 'Cup', or drop any cash, checks, bank drafts, foreign exchange, gold, silver or precious stones to the drop off points and we'll ensure it's all cashed, collated and converted into cups.