Through the Just1HR initiative, people are encouraged to donate an hour of their time each month to assist those in need, focusing specifically on the spheres of education, community, family, health and unemployment.
The programme has made steady inroads since its launch in September last year, according to co-ordinator Trevor Jennings, who said the database of volunteers had grown into the hundreds.
The idea to start Just1HR came about in August last year after Bishop Lunga ka Siboto participated in a Herald NMMU Community Dialogue – “Addressing the challenges facing our metro” – and urged people to work together to rebuild the walls of the city.
The “wall” was divided into 60 sections which represents the 60 municipal wards. Not only were the leaders given a clear vision on the 60 municipal ward approach, they were also given a plan of action on how to implement the vision.
This resulted in the ward-by-ward approach undertaken by the Just1HR initiative, which was similar to their pilot schools project, says Jennings, who places volunteers according to their preference.
“We are focusing on certain areas because we want our ideas to materialise. So, as opposed to trying to dip our fingers in every pot, we are focusing on certain projects to ensure there are tangible differences made.
“In terms of education we are working with Sivuyiseni Primary School in KwaMagxaki and Piet Retief Primary in Sidwell. They have been chosen as our pilot schools, helping them with several projects. We are using them as a base for other schools to see what we are doing, because we are judged on what we achieve and not what we plan to achieve.
“We are also working with five churches and several NGOs. We had a stall at the GM Health and Wellness days this week to expose the programme to the corporate world.
“People are more inclined to give help when it is something they are good at, so we try to place our volunteers accordingly.
‘ Just1Hr is a vehicle to drive transformation by initiating a shift from institutions and corporations to personal involvement, promoting a spirit of volunteerism in Nelson Mandela Bay.”
The group’s vision statement reads: “Our city faces challenges that cannot be solved without you. Give one hour every month and see communities transformed.”
Jennings calculated that if one million people in the Bay had to give one hour a month of voluntary service, it added up to 114 years every month. It is a concept which, according to Jennings, is catching on nationally.
“I have already been approached by people from Durban and East London who want to copy the initiative in their cities. For now though, we are keeping it local – it is pointless to have fancy ideas which don’t materialise.”
Sivuyiseni Primary School principal Willreau Farao said: “This is a wonderful project. It creates an environment of giving in that it has made us question ourselves as a school as to what we can do to help other schools … We aren’t just receiving from the project, but ploughing back into it.”
By Tremaine van Aart – Weekend Post 5 July 2014