Make a difference to the homeless on Mandela Day
ALL it took was an act of kindness – and the belief that she could make a difference, one day at a time. The woman was Colleen Lewis, who lived in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.
In 1997, Colleen reached out to people in her community who had fallen by the wayside. People who were on the street. People who were homeless.
Inspired by her Christian faith, she offered them sustenance for their bodies (a warm meal) and their souls (weekly Bible study).
Today, this homely weekly gathering is a highly effective, Christian non-profit organisation called U-Turn Ministry, which helps street people to turn their lives around.
No one would have been prouder of Colleen Lewis than Nelson Mandela. He encouraged everyone to serve others and make a difference, to take action and inspire change.
So on 18 July – Mandela Day www.mandeladay.com – The Constantia Village is honouring Madiba’s life of service by supporting U-Turn Ministry.
The U-Turn Homeless Ministry Story
Colleen Lewis’ humble weekly ministry soon grew beyond her wildest dreams. Street people streamed to her home in numbers that were “beyond the neighbourhood’s tolerance levels”, and the weekly gathering moved to St Stephens Bible Church in Claremont.
The church provided much-needed office space, support and guidance. U-Turn Homeless Ministry www.homeless.org.za was born.
In the years from 2004 to 2008, the ministry grew in leaps and bounds, hiring a warehouse from the City of Cape Town and providing accommodation for staff and male residents and skills’ training workshops.
Today, the Government-supported non-profit organisation has its headquarters in Kenilworth. Its mission is to help the homeless “become whole again” – spiritually, emotionally, financially and physically.
Yes, it’s ambitious, but perfectly doable.
U-Turn’s ultimate goal is for the homeless to find meaningful employment and become self-sufficient.
“We believe that a task as ambitious as this cannot be achieved on our own and for this reason we cherish, cultivate and pursue effective partnerships with other service providers.”
Putting programmes in place
U-Turn has two programmes in place:
• The U-Turn Rehabilitation Programme, which focuses on drug and alcohol addiction;
• The U-Turn Life Change Programme, which provides work for the homeless in its charity shops, laundry and service centre.
U-Turn’s second-phase rehab programmes are delivered in workplace settings overseen by occupational therapists. The programmes give the homeless 18-24 months of real work experience and are designed to encourage a healthy work ethic and provide relevant job skills.
How you can help the homeless
Support the U-Turn Voucher initiative – which operates in Claremont, Rondebosch, Kenilworth and Wynberg – by buying vouchers and handing them to street people so that they can be redeemed at U-Turn for clothing or a meal.
The homeless can also earn vouchers – sponsored by the public and bought online – by working at the U-Turn service centre.
The Constantia Village customers can:
• Donate www.homeless.org.za new or used clothes and/or money;
• Volunteer your services.
Vouchers can be purchased online or from: the U-Turn HQ in Kenilworth, U-Turn Retail Stores in Philippi, Southfield, Wynberg and Claremont; Westerford Kwikspar (Campground Road, Rondebosch) and SuperSpar (Rosmead Avenue, Kenilworth) and the Engen Garages in Main Road, Claremont, Gabriel Road, Wynberg and Ladies Mile Road.
Give us 67 minutes of your time …
Give up one minute for every year of Madiba’s public service by:
• Joining our tenants on 18 July in our centre court where we’ll be making sandwiches for the homeless which will be distributed by U-Turn Ministry.
• Donating new or used items of clothing to the homeless – two drop-off bins are already in place at The Constantia Village www.constantiavillage.co.za
Man with a mission
Madiba’s message was simple: We all have the ability and responsibility to change our world for the better.
U-Turn embody this vision: its mission is to draw individuals into a “journey away from homelessness”.
Its proactive approach ensures that nearly 50 % of its income is self-generated from its charity shops and its software consulting arm, Salesforce.com.
It has also secured funding from the Government, which pays for the stipend for eight participants on U-Turn’s Life Change Programme for four of the 24 months they are on the programme.
At U-Turn, the belief is that the world will be a better place for everyone if homeless people are rehabilitated into society.
Visit the U-Turn Homeless Ministry website on www.homeless.org.za or follow U-Turn on Facebook.
Inspire change and take action with us on Mandela Day!