As part of a new blog series, Johnson’s Baby will be featuring some amazing moms who are doing extraordinary things, whether it’s charity work, or community upliftment, or fund-raising – basically, anything that helps the community.
The first name that jumped to my mind was Amy Westerman, who started The Grace Factory, an organisation that collects new and previously loved products for new moms and kids. Johnson’s Baby and Rattle & Mum have partnered to support TGF; and just encourage other moms with influence and time to bring out positive change.
I’m not sure I know of anyone busier or more driven to help than Amy, who always gives credit to her donors. “Our donors have been absolutely amazing and without them The Grace Factory would not exist – thank you to everyone who has donated to us; your donations are truly appreciated!” (Amy seldom takes credit for anything).
We asked her the following about herself and The Grace Factory;
What are six words to describe yourself?
Caring, disciplined, sentimental, friendly, organised, motivated.
What do you do?
I’m a wife and a mum, to the BEST husband and child in the world. I’m a chartered accountant who works as a financial manager – I LOVE numbers! I enjoy running, not very far though but love a good 5km every now and again. I LOVE helping babies and mums in need.
You have a full-time job as a financial manager at Sage Pastel Payroll. What made you start a charity in between it all, why is giving a priority for you, and how do you fit it in?
I decided to give back as it is a passion I have – to help others. It’s a priority for me as my religion encourages it and I also feel we’ve been put on this earth to serve, not to be served. I fit it in as I have a VERY strong and stable support system that sometimes carries me when I don’t have the strength to walk. This support system includes my family, my incredible husband, my daughter Erin. Without Alison TGF would not be where it is today. She is the behind the scenes hard worker of TGF – Thank you Alison!
What is the Grace Factory, when did you start it and why?
The Grace Factory (TGF) is a non-profit organisation that collects and distributes baby items. I started TGF in Jan 2013 when Erin Grace was 6 months old. I realised the need to distribute used baby items to those who needed them. Children outgrow their clothes so quickly and I saw the opportunity to start an NPO due to the HUGE need in our country.
We consist of a team of two – Alison Wright and myself. We initially started helping homes by delivering basic necessities to them (clothes, blankets, bum cream, nappies, baby cereal, formula etc.) and then expanded our NPO to help mums in need. Maternity packs are my passion. It is a little gift pack of necessities that we give to new mums in government hospitals to help encourage them.
Who are your beneficiaries?
We have helped 80 homes and 2 000 new mums. Here are a few homes we have helped:
- Lily of the Valley
- Ethembeni – salvation army
- Chubby chums
- Bethany house
How much are you distributing each month?
We distribute to approximately three homes a week and to 500 new moms every three months. We aim to increase these numbers annually.
What is the one thing people can do monthly, ad hoc or yearly to help The Grace Factory?
We seriously need funding. Due to the fact that we spend all our free time helping others, we haven’t had time to fund raise. We would really like to encourage people to setup monthly debit orders, even if it is only R10 a month.
We always need volunteers for our packing days and require volunteers to help distribute these packs – it’s a great team building exercise!
Our biggest need is always consumables, for example nappies, formula, wet wipes, bum cream etc.
We starting to get to the point where Alison’s car is getting too small for our collections and drop offs and appeal to anyone who knows someone in the motor industry to help us source a bigger vehicle for deliveries
What makes all the hours and work worthwhile?
Knowing that you helped someone, no matter how small that help may be. Leaving a legacy for my daughter to always act in a way of kindness and cultivate a giving nature.
What have been the biggest lessons since starting The Grace Factory?
The biggest lesson has been to have faith. We sometimes don’t have money for maternity packs and then mysteriously get cash a week before the packing day, we see miracles happen weekly! Joburg people are generous! Sometimes we are blown away by the kind donations we receive.
What are your plans for the year?
We would like to help our homes on a more sustainable basis in 2015. We would like to increase maternity packs to 500 a month in 2016 and also expand nationally next year. We aim to have branches all over South Africa, but need loads of volunteers for this to be a reality.
Each month, Johnson’s Baby will give a big mom hamper and a kid’s/baby hamper to each woman featured here. If you know of someone who should be featured here, please let me know… you can email me here.