The initiative behind Heart of @home

“Heart of @home was launched in 2017 and is the result of an extensive engagement process with all our employees to establish how they believed we as an organisation could do more in the communities we serve. The result of that collaborative process was very powerful. What we heard from our employees was that they have a sense of urgency in wanting to help and respect the hardships that too many of our fellow citizens are facing, and to be involved in practical ways to help improve their circumstances.” -Chris Swart, Head of @home.
 
Heart of @home is a company-wide social investment initiative (CSI) from @home that launched in 2017. @home believes that you should use your position of privilege to help those that are not in the same position and hereby give back to build a stronger and happier community. This initiative aims to make a difference in the lives of underserved communities. Not only does this mean helping to build and shape communities, but also supporting local talent and businesses as well as giving disadvantaged individuals the opportunity to build skills and find employment.
 
Since this engagement with the @home employees, Heart of @home has supported many great causes after the initiative was put in place. This includes working with Hands of Hope which is a skills development program that supports women on parole in order to help them with employment and building skills. This project resulted in beautiful handmade picnic bags being sold at @home stores that these women could feel proud of producing. 
 
Similarly, a small family owned business, Charisma Candles, worked with @home on the initiative last year.  Charisma produced amazing locally crafted products such as lip balms, creams and scented sachets exclusively for @home that were sold in @home stores nationwide. R10 from every product sold was donated towards Heart of @home projects. Gary Pearson from Charisma said about the initiative, “It is a wonderful initiative, and we are certain that it will not only encourage other retailers to follow suit, but will bring happiness and relieve much suffering of many people in this country. Our team is very proud to be associated with this initiative and the products are beautifully crafted. But what makes the range truly special is that the intention behind its development was to act as a tool to encourage consumers to give back to their communities.”. Not only were these products created with such an important message in mind, but @home felt proud to have these beautiful products in stores to also bring this message to our clients.
 
@home employees had a chance to help with the physical manifestation of this project starting in 2017. Heart of @home teamed up with Habitat for Humanity South Africa for Mandela Day to help build a home for a Special Needs family in KwaZulu-Natal. “Habitat for Humanity SA was selected as a Heart of @home beneficiary because of the impact they have in communities and the values they hold. What they do and what we do resonates, albeit on different ends of the scale. We’re also in the business of helping South Africans create homes. It gave our team members an opportunity to be active participants in building a home for a family,” Swart explains.  
 
After the success of this project and the big change they made in this family’s heart, the @home staff was thrilled to work with Habitat for Humanity again. This time the project took place in the South of Johannesburg to help build another home in an area where the unemployment rate was as high as 80%. Over 50 volunteers showed up to help. Chris Swart on the day of building said, “We have made a big change today. It’s only one home and one family, but to them… it’s everything. We just need to gain support and momentum to do more, because it’s the right thing to do.
 
“It’s been powerful and very humbling for our teams to witness how a healthy community and the provision of adequate shelter can be in creating a sense of dignity and in breaking the chains of poverty. It is about more than just building houses. It is about building homes and empowering individuals and families by helping them to sustain an economic future. Our teams feel encouraged because they are part of a process which helps create a sense of dignity for the individuals, families and communities who benefit from Heart of @home.”, Chris concludes.
 
These projects have inspired the @home team to continue trying to build a stronger community, with the funds for this initiative helping many different projects such as providing food for the children at Temperance Town after care, donating blankets and gowns to the elderly, providing 500 towels to Khayelitsha’s fire relief as well as donating bedding and curtains to NPO Living Hope’s healthcare centre.
 
@home is looking forward to continuing with this initiative again this year. Commencing in the second week of June, 50 @home staff will be back working with Habitat for Humanity South Africa in building one more home! This will be the 4th home that has been built with help from the initiative and hopefully only one of many more to follow.
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