Executive Director, CFNZ
12 February 2021
If there is something we have seen growth in lately, it’s been the interest of businesses in giving back to their communities in a meaningful way.
One example is our national partner, Craigs Investment Partners (Craigs), who decided to give the money they would normally spend on corporate gifts at Christmas back to our communities, via CFNZ’s national corporate giving programme.
We were making arrangements to distribute these donations, comfortable in the knowledge they will ‘make a difference’, when we got a message from Whakatane that stopped us in our tracks. It was the story of Jo-ann*, who had been brutally beaten by her partner while pregnant and how the local Whanau Awhina Women’s Refuge helped her to turn her life around.
Craigs Christmas gift in 2020 directly helped people in Whakatane, like Jo-ann, to receive support, vouchers and a hand up to get their life in order and to move on from similar violent and life-destroying relationships.
Over the past year, needs in communities have certainly been growing across NZ and we find in the current environment that it is extremely helpful for people, including business owners and staff, to know how they can help in a real and meaningful way.
Craigs Investment Partners have now shared Jo-ann’s story with their staff and, in terms of growing a team building culture, they tell me there is a growing commitment internally to doing more good. They are committed to building their own endowment fund, to continue to give to NZ communities in perpetuity.
Recently I was asked, what do you think motivates businesses to give? In a nutshell, giving feels good and it's smart for business. Businesses that give are not only seen in a positive light by customers but also, perhaps even more importantly, by their staff. According to research, 88% of Millennials find their job more fulfilling when they have opportunities to make a positive impact on society; and 64% won’t take a job if a company doesn’t have strong values.
Many business teams believe that their work, as well as making a profit, must have purpose. Working for a corporate that cares, matters.
Jo-ann’s heartfelt and powerful story is below. Thank you Craigs Investment Partners for doing good in a meaningful way and for caring that your giving dollars are making a real difference through working with local Community Foundations.
Ngā mihi nui
I am a 34 year old independent mama of 5 beautiful babies. My life was tipped upside down when I was brutally beaten whilst pregnant and was moved from the bottom of the North Island to the Bay of Plenty overnight for my safety (I had a horrific history with my abuser). When I arrived in Whakatane I literally had nothing!
No bank card
I arrived there with my 5 month old daughter, I was battered & bruised I felt isolated. I was 11 weeks pregnant and my older 3 children were with my family until I could organise a stable home for us to live in, up here. The second day of being here I was so emotional, worried, scared & stressed out. I met a beautiful woman from the Whakatane Women’s Refuge named Stella.
From the first time I met her, I felt safe. To me that was a big thing.
Stella and the Whanau Awhina Women’s Refuge helped me a lot. Stella came over the first day and we had a chat and got to know each other. Not long after she came back with clothes, shoes, food, nappies etc for us, as in that time I really needed help. I wasn’t receiving any money at all, so it was really hard to get by. It was very hard for me to ask for help and she constantly would remind me that it was ok.
I struggled badly being away from my family. Stella helped me get in contact with them and in to counselling, woman’s programs, and parenting programs. She would show me what was on offer but it was up to me to make the commitment. You name it she helped me to get there. Even if it meant Stella driving me.
I had to go to Rotorua a few times for appointments with lawyers. She would take me over there and while I was in with my lawyer she would watch my baby for me. That was like 2 hours each time and it happened more than a few times. I had to attend court in Tauranga & Rotorua and Stella would do the same there too. I had to catch a flight from Rotorua to Wellington for CYFS meetings. Stella would drive us over and pick us up when I came back. When I had to report weekly she would take me. I had no money for this either. I was so scared to go anywhere for the first month. I didn’t like leaving the house. Stella would be my eyes, ears and shoulders many times.
I have been through so much but I know wholeheartedly if I did not receive the love, care & support I received from Stella and the refuge I can tell you right now, I would not be here today writing this letter to you. I would be 6ft under because I had nobody on my side. I felt I was alone. I consider Stella and the rest of the ladies as family and I will forever be grateful for everything she has done for us. I know it’s her job in the eyes of many but they all really do go above and beyond.
I had nobody and nothing they helped me to go from nothing to a ‘somebody’.
There is A LOT more that they have done for us but I would be here for ever.
But from where I was a broken woman, battered & bruised, mentally, physically and emotionally damaged and broken to having a warm home, all my babies back. They are happy and really humble children, and I am studying and trying to start my own little business from home, now a confident proud woman.
I’m not the person I once was and I owe a big part of that to Stella & the ladies at Whanau Awhina Womens Refuge.
* Name has been changed to protect the writer’s identity
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