06 Nov A much-needed lifeboat for mothers in need
Amy Westerman couldn’t have guessed that giving away surplus baby clothes and accessories could lead her to establish a NPO.
We have seen it all too often. A new born baby’s cute little face peeking out from its blanket, while the mom looks on anxiously. She doesn’t have the means to buy baby formula if her milk runs dry, besides basic necessities.
Chartered Accountant [CA(SA)], Amy Westerman, is fortunate enough not to have experienced such challenges and is grateful for this. In 2012 she gave birth to her first daughter. While on six months maternity leave, she decided to donate baby clothes and accessories she wasn’t using. She wondered who could put them to best use as none of her friends or family were expecting.
Not knowing what else to do, she would drive to the Spar behind her house, find out which car guards had babies at home, and donate the items that she had loaded in the boot of her car. But she didn’t want to keep giving to the same people.
Her baby girl, Erin Grace, became the inspiration behind her mother’s bountiful charity – The Grace Factory, which was started in February 2013. Through it, Amy has brought a ray of hope to almost
2 000 desperate new mothers and babies, and assisted more than 80 children’s homes, by providing basic necessities such as clothes, blankets, toiletries, nappies and formula. Having her second baby pre-maturely broadened her scope to collecting clothes for premature babies.
Amy never expected The Grace Factory to help so many people. Establishing and running a NPO is a big hearted gesture – even more so when you already have a full-time job as financial manager at Valemount Feeds, and are mom to two little girls.
“I have an incredible support structure for which I am extremely grateful,” says Amy. “The Grace Factory is run by myself and Alison Wright, without whom we would not have been as successful. My husband, family, friends and home administrator help me immensely.
“Thanks to the organisational skills I acquired through studying to be a CA(SA), I am able to juggle a lot; in particular, my ‘articles’ taught me a great deal. My CA(SA) background has also helped me gain confidence to approach corporates for funding and has helped me with the statutory side of operating a NPO, such as setting it up and getting SARS tax exemption.
“Besides donating to children’s homes, we assist new mothers who have visited a government hospital or clinic for the delivery of their baby by giving them a maternity gift pack. These provide their babies with their basic needs and vital information about the effective care of babies. South Africa is a country in terrible need of so many things. It is highly gratifying to be making a difference in somebody’s life, no matter how small.”
In September this year The Grace Factory was blessed with an unexpected and very welcome donation. LottoStar, in collaboration with popular Johannesburg radio station 947, donated
R1 million to the NPO. The donation was made as “a way of paying it forward and recognising those who go above and beyond for others”.
“Words cannot express how grateful The Grace Factory is for this life changing donation,” says Amy. “What started out like any old Monday was one of the biggest days in The Grace Factory’s history. The R1 million is more than we could ever have imagined and we can now help more people with this money than our wildest imagination could have ever dreamed of.”