Lucy G brings more hope

2019-07-09 06:00
Diana Phillips, doing fabric paint in the café.PHOTOS: TIYESE JERANJI

Diana Phillips, doing fabric paint in the café.PHOTOS: TIYESE JERANJI

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Lucy G Foundation in Kirstenhof has become a place of hope for many residents living with disabilities.

Formed just over a year ago, things are gaining momentum and people coming through the doors of the foundation, disabled or not, are leaving with more hope and a sense of achievement.

The foundation was started by Helen Garaghty and it is named after her younger daughter, Lucy Geel, who died about four years ago from complications after giving birth. Unfortunately, her baby also died.

Lucy has a sister Johanna who lives with a disability and is currently staying at a group home.

Garaghty says because Johanna has a disability, things were always a struggle for her. “What happened when Lucy died is that I realised that she had been able to live life to the fullest, she was happy, and she had everything. But for her sister, because she is a special needs child, there isn’t anything much for people like her to do especially after they leave school,” she says.

Garaghty approached Diana Phillips, who is an occupational therapist.

Phillips had worked with Johanna on craft and life skill activities and worked together to try and create something meaningful for people with disabilities. This is how The Lucy G Foundation was born and the craft café was intended to be the unique business concept that would provide training and work skills to people with disabilities.

Lucy G Craft Café is open to the public regardless of abilities or age, and it is a vibrant place full of colour, energy and activity. They have several craft activities suitable for everyone to do.

Crafts include fabric painting, ceramics, sand art, beadwork, paper craft, flow painting, mosaics and clock making. They also host craft workshops and have community groups like knitting and scrapbooking clubs and run a simple food café.

The venue can also be booked for parties and events.

“The staff that gets employed all have some kind of challenge. They all get mentored and trained by volunteers. There are few opportunities in the community for people with special needs to be meaningfully employed and naturally interacting with the public. We are happy to demonstrate that with the appropriate support and training that they get here, they can be wonderful contributing members of society,” says Phillips, who is also the co-manager of the craft centre.

The foundation is a non-profit organisation and it has a waiting list of young adults with disabilities wanting to work. However, Lucy G needs more volunteers to come on board for at least three hours a week to help with the training and supervision in either the craft or café area. Training will be provided for them. Only then Lucy G will be able to employ more staff.

“The vision is to create a community of like-minded people and organisations to support one another. We want to provide those with disabilities a chance to work while also gently changing community perceptions about disability. With training and repetition of tasks, they can learn their duties. I have made things easier by using pictures so that even those that can’t read are able to see what they need to do and then carry out their tasks using picture cues. However, we still need volunteers that can help mentor the employees,” says Phillips.

She says with the foundation; the aim is to enable those with a disability to be more independent and not institutionalised and to be accepted in their communities. “The employees get a salary and they learn to manage it and feel in control. Because they are also taught other life skills, like cooking, they are more independent and less stressed and this is a win-win for everyone,” she says.

The organisation will be having a music and fun evening at Kirstenhof Primary School at 18:00 on Saturday 13 July. Entry fee is R150 and those who want to attend should book. “It was sold out last year and that was inspiring,”’says Phillips.

The event aims to raise funds for the foundation.

  • For more information visit www.lucyg.co.za or call Helen Garaghty on 076 788 3193 or the office on 076 762 6094.

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