The Momentum Waikato community foundation and homebuilder Golden Homes have teamed up to provide financial relief to front-line groups sustaining communities impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown, with a focus on those neighbouring Auckland that are still at level 4.
Momentum has connected and convened a combination of contributors led by Golden Homes that have so far collectively donated a total of $80,000 to a dozen-plus community support organisations, with an emphasis on the North Waikato-Auckland border.
Community Waikato and the Waikato District Council assisted with the selection of recipient groups. In an ongoing effort, donations of several thousand dollars to each organisation are paying for food and care packages for distribution to those in need.
The heartfelt thank-you messages from the community groups give an insight into what they are facing.
"Lockdown is really taking its toll on some local whānau," said Jae Parker from the Tuakau Youth Centre Trust. "Thank you to those who help, donate goods, vouchers, and koha! Huge thank you to Golden Homes and Momentum Waikato and the Tuakau Union Parish Church for their huge koha that will let us continue our mahi in our community."
"The generous donation from Golden Homes has enabled us to launch three community care pantries and an emergency fund," said Janet Baillie from the Catholic Community of Pokeno and the Pokeno and Districts Lions Club's Community Projects team.
"Many people in Pokeno are stressed and finding it hard through Covid-19 lockdown. Our community care pantries ease the worry of receiving for people - any food, any sharing, any bounty."
Community Waikato's community adviser Sarah Gibb was happy to get the call from Momentum offering the assistance led by Golden Homes.
"In each of the Covid lockdowns I have learnt new things about people's resilience when living with shortages of food, hygiene and other essential items," says Sarah.
"How long people will hold out before they ask for help, and the passion of those amazing people in the community groups who respond.
"Just maintaining the usual food supply during lockdown is incredibly challenging, let alone meeting the extra demand that it adds, especially if they usually depend on food rescue supplies from stores that are closed at levels 3 and 4.
"As a community adviser I was hearing desperation from these providers, stress levels going sky high as they scrambled around for supplies.
"And then Momentum Waikato and Golden Homes stepped in. No fuss, no process, no doubts, no hesitation, just trust.
"Trust that these frontline organisations know best, know their communities and just need some short-term funding for food provisions now. The donations have meant these organisations can go shopping for what is needed," says Sarah.
Golden Homes speaks for the coalition of donors in appreciating the connecting and convening role that Momentum pursues as a community leadership organisation.
"We are so thrilled to be able to give at this very challenging time for so many," says spokesperson Liesl Friend.
"Here at Golden Homes, we are focused on community, and fully embrace our vision of 'Better homes build better communities, which support better lives in New Zealand'.
"We found partnering with Momentum was an easy choice, in that we were confident our investment would have the meaningful impact we were hoping for in the lives that need it the most.
"We have been blown away by all of the wonderful photos, messages and heartfelt letters of thanks from the various communities that we have been able to assist," says Liesl.
Golden Homes director Blake Richardson says the company is committed to the community.
"Like all businesses, we depend on and are part of the communities we operate in, and now more than ever it is important to play our part. Healthy and secure housing is a cornerstone of healthy communities; we see opportunity and an obligation to work with partners to achieve this.
"We are in the process of handing over the last of 30 affordable houses at Te Kaarearea in a mixed model development in partnership with Waikato Tainui and Habitat for Humanity. The project has been an inflection point for the company as we see the potential to scale up our impact," says Blake.
Waikato District councillor Jacqui Church welcomes Momentum and Golden Homes assistance in the North Waikato.
"In times of adversity we see the very best of humanity, coping under extreme personal pressures, with the effort most often being made by those who always contribute the most of themselves to their whānau, families, business, communities and our society as a whole.
"For the recipient groups in the North Waikato, who are otherwise soldiering on quietly, the very generous donations from Golden Homes and their coalition have been a cause for real celebration and a feeling of gratefulness. The pressure is for now down a notch for these groups.
"It's been about both the practical need of the ever-increasing number of families falling through the cracks, and the community groups and their frontline volunteers feeling supported and cared for with generosity and kindness from the business sector.
"One of our inspirational volunteer leaders said 'her prayers were answered', as she had felt quite overwhelmed and was relieved to know help was going to be a reality. She felt supported and better able to continue the work, knowing others cared too.
"Personally, I am so very grateful and humbled that the donors could see that the 'North Waikato-Auckland' Covid bubble is having a huge impact socially, mentally and financially, particularly as Covid knows no such borders.
"For Momentum we are very appreciative of their proactive partnering culture to work alongside our grassroots groups with trust, understanding these volunteers know exactly how to squeeze the very most out of every last cent they receive for maximum impact and best results," says Jacqui.
Momentum Waikato Development director Janice Lapwood has led the community foundation's involvement.
"Momentum is a nimble and flexible organisation able to respond quickly and simply at a strategic level to the need in our communities," says Janice.
"We fill the gaps that exist because other public and private organisations are, rightfully, focused on their own missions. We don't pretend to know what's best and we're not risk averse, so readily work with both businesses that understand what they're getting into and community groups who can deliver the goods."
The groups so far supported include:
• Tuakau Youth Centre Charitable Trust
• Crossroads Church Food Bank – North Waikato
• Pacific Island Community Group – North Waikato
• Pokeno & Districts Lions Club & Pokeno Catholic Church
• Port Waikato Community Health & Support Services Trust
• Meremere Community Development Committee Inc
• Te Kauwhata Community House
• Huntly Community Advice Centre – Huntly Food Rescue
• Morrinsville Foodbank - Ezekiel Trust
• Te Korowai Aroha Charitable Trust – Te Kuiti Foodbank
• Waitomo Christian Fellowship Foodbank
• Kawhia Māori Women's Welfare League – Kawhia Foodbank