It's official – Tauranga's Chloe Wright is a SuperGran.
The chief executive of the Wright Family Foundation was recently named patron of SuperGrans, a collective of charitable trusts aimed at strengthening life skills to help families flourish.
Chloe, a grandmother of eight, felt humbled to be presented with a heart-sh aped pounamu taonga at a special ceremony to mark the occasion.
The Wright Family Foundation sponsors SuperGrans in the Western Bay of Plenty, Palmerston North, Lower Hutt and Māngere (South Auckland).
'SuperGrans' mission - to share valuable skills between generations and improve the lives of families - mirrors the foundation's ethos of making a positive difference through education,” says Chloe.
'Having been raised in a ‘village' atmosphere, I understand the comfort and resources that come to bear when any one of the ‘village' is in need. Respecting the knowledge and skills of the older generation and connecting that to the journey of young parents is vital in maintaining a healthy and happy community.
'SuperGrans epitomises the circle of life, gives hope to the young who may be struggling and recognises the value of the generations. Simply put, they are the glue that binds.”
There are nine SuperGrans trusts around the country, with another in the pipeline for Hawke's Bay.
SuperGrans Aotearoa's national coordinator Martha Kelly says the organisation waited years to find a patron that would fit with the ethos of SuperGrans and found Chloe through her commitment to direct the resources of the Wright Family Foundation into achieving the best outcomes for families.
'We work for families too, so we thought ‘what a wonderful patron to have'.”
SuperGrans started in Lower Hutt in 1993. Volunteers, which include men and non-grans too, work with young families to teach them life skills such as cooking and growing their own food, budgeting, household routines, clothes mending and basic repairs around the home. There is also advice on putting together CVs and applying for jobs.
'Even though we're not all grans, we've stuck with the name because it represents the sharing of inter-generational knowledge, which is an important part of what we do,” says Martha.
'Sometimes the sharing of skills breaks down between generations and we are filling that gap. It's about sharing knowledge and sticking with people until they know how to use their new skills in their everyday life. It's all about creating a better life for children and families.”
Martha says each SuperGrans branch operates a little differently, but all mentors are matched with clients based on culture, personality and skill set, and can either work with clients in their home or at the SuperGrans base.
'Some branches have a focus on budgeting, but cooking is one of the most common skills taught for those who want to learn more. Some who haven't learned from their whānau have never mastered the skill. If you're living with limited means it's also about how to eat healthily without breaking the budget, as well as good nutrition.”
But what SuperGrans is ultimately doing is building confidence and self-esteem, says Martha.
'We're showing families how to move forward and have a plan.”
Referrals to SuperGrans come from social agencies and government organisations, however many people self-refer to SuperGrans 'because it's a safe place to come to”, says Martha.
'There's no judgement; we're just here to help. Our philosophy is not doing things for people but helping them to do it for themselves. That can take time and we do work with families over long periods of time if necessary.”
SuperGrans relies on fundraising, grants and sponsorship, such as that offered by the Wright Family Foundation.
'My vision is to have it in every city and town in New Zealand because it is needed everywhere,” says Martha. 'What we do might look simple but it's the nuts and bolts of a family functioning well.”