Most of us imagine that we will grow old with the ones we love, surrounded by family members and friends until our final days. But the sad truth is many poor older persons spend their golden years alone and uncared for – tossed aside and forgotten.
The harsh reality is social pensioners in South Africa receive just R1,780 monthly. That’s all they have to pay for a place to live, food, medical expenses, clothes, transport, and anything else they might need. Recognising the massive gap in the care for the elderly poor, Neighbourhood Old Age Homes (NOAH) was established some 38 years ago and through the provision of a range of essential services, more than 750 social pensioners in the Western Cape receive the support they require to remain active, independent and purposeful.
Recognising the critical need to support the elderly, the lack of government funding and aware of its responsibility to organisations dependent on financial aid, PPG has made a donation of $25 000 (R375 000) to refurbish the NOAH Woodstock Centre and Clinic, impacting more than 330 social pensioners.
Made possible by PPG’s COLORFUL COMMUNITIES™ initiative, it’s customary with all its projects that CSI donations go beyond a financial investment.
Commenting on the company’s philanthropic efforts, Herman Putter, PC Marketing and Business Development Director EMEA says, “As a company PPG has a strong sense of social accountability. We commit heavily to the practice of corporate philanthropy where, through our global signature Colourful Communities programme, we freely give resources to a range of charities and causes to bring about meaningful social change.”
So it is that 20 volunteers including staff, customers and suppliers collaborated on the NOAH project in the Western Cape – spending a day painting for good and for a cause. Almost 1200L of paint and primers were used to refurbish the walls, doors, ceilings, countertops and balustrades in the community centre and clinic and courtyard walls, and when the last coat had cured, the overall feel was one of a welcoming, professional and cheerful environment.
Discussing why NOAH, Putter says that not only was the facility in strong need of rehabilitation, but its vision and mission align perfectly with PPG’s qualifying criteria for support. That and it has a history of almost 40 years of success. “NOAH is so much more than an old age home; it’s an innovative response to ageing. The Social Enterprise Development (SED) model creates opportunities for the pensioners to generate additional monthly income ensuring they lead purposeful and dignified lives. It also changes perceptions in an ’anti-ageing’ world. Few people have a positive view on ageing and even less believe that social pensioners are able to make a contribution to society, let alone the economy. The NOAH model debunks this myth by helping social pensioners turn their lives around through income generation,” says Putter. “As a result the residents live with security, eat nutritiously and have their health and other basic needs met with dignity and respect.”
Using Prominent Paints’ Select Sheen range the facilities have been transformed from a sterile white environment to a mix of elegant shades of greys, green and white with accent walls adding some finesse to the spaces. "When PPG invests in projects like this it takes a long-term approach and with paint that lasts up to seven years – we feel confident that our legacy will be enjoyed by many - for many years to come.”
Commenting on the donation, NOAH director Anne Dobson thanked PPG for the incredible generosity of both time and the resources that went into beautifying the NOAH Centre and Clinic for the elderly. “It was incredible timing when PPG contacted NOAH regarding a contribution of paint to the Centre, Clinic and a few of the NOAH houses. At the time we had no idea of the enormous generosity, commitment and care that would follow.
“The elderly poor are most often lowest on the list of priorities, largely invisible, and usually ignored. NOAH believes fundamentally in their value and their need for support in remaining active and independent, despite their limited income. We are grateful that PPG has recognised this too. Through the donation of time, paint and labour, the message to our beneficiaries is that, as a group, PPG cares about them, cares about those most marginalised and vulnerable, and respects the dignity of the poor,” says Dobson. “We are very excited about the makeover event, transforming tired old spaces into vibrant, welcoming and contemporary places to meet, take up opportunities to be active, to contribute, to have fun and to learn. We are thrilled and humbled by PPG’s incredibly generous contribution to our social pensioners.”
Explaining more about the Colourful Communities approach, Putter says flexing real corporate philanthropic muscle is about giving more than just money and products. It should include time.
“Our employees rally together to support the causes we get behind and by working together with staff and multiple partners - our impact has been magnified and for us that’s a great result. As a cause it was easy to identify with this project. We all have parents who raised and protected us when we were small and vulnerable. Now that the roles have been reversed it’s time and a privilege for us to provide support and love to aging parents – and in this case in the community in which we operate,” says Putter.
“After a lifetime of working, many old people are stripped of their dignity and become victims of loneliness, destitution, abuse, illness and depression. Our mantra is built on the premise that we can and do protect and beautify the world. We are delighted that our support has not only helped transform walls and the environment – but the lives of those who live at this home. NOAH wants every social pensioner in their care to remain active and independent for as long as possible through purpose, participation and possibility. We hope that by making the Woodstock home safe and homely that the residents will thrive in their refurbished environment,” concludes Putter.