This 17th Monday marks the beginning of NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK – a week to recognise and celebrate the almost 6 million Australian volunteers who dedicate their time to helping others. People have different reasons for volunteering. For some it could be the desire to give back to their communities. For others it could be a yearning to learn new skills or even meet new people.
At the Generous and the Grateful, we truly admire, value and respect our volunteers more than words can convey and thank them all from the bottom of our hearts. If you would like to give volunteering a go, we would love to have you and have many flexible positions available. Get in touch with us here: https://www.generousandgrateful.com.au/join-us
The Generous and The Grateful (GG) provide furniture and other essential household items to those in need, assisting some of the most vulnerable people in the community. Sydney Observer was delighted to speak with CEO and founder of GG, Carmen Platt.
The social enterprise was first established in Macquarie Park in 2017, given there was a clear need for household goods in a hurry. “I think having this realisation that there are people that live rough in their own home, struggling behind closed doors was what prompted GG. The things they lack are all around us. We deliver stuff people really need. The quality of the goods, the way we connect to them and the feeling we leave people with is that they are seen, and matter,” notes Carmen. The concept of kindness is really at the heart of GG, highlighting the impact a little care and compassion can have on someone. “The ultimate goal is for everyone to live their best life – making sure people have what they need in a dignified manner increases the chances of them surviving what they are going through. It’s actually kindness that leads to self-esteem and dignity.”
Even amid a pandemic, GG was still able to achieve a significant amount of good for the community: 122 tonnes of items redirected from unnecessary landfill, 489 empty rentals turned into safe and inviting homes, around 1300 people assisted, all in 2020 alone. “We were tempted to close the doors as a largely volunteer-run organisation, until we realised that when locking down at home, many people don’t have a safe home to do that in. Our work was therefore more important than ever before. We rapidly pivoted and found a solution that would also protect our donors, volunteers and recipients. We received temporary usage of a warehouse thanks to a developer in Macquarie Park – both of our warehouses are donated to us for temporary usage, spaces that will be demolished in the future but are currently vacant. So, we use that space to create amazing social good,” explains Carmen.
Even though the numbers from 2020 speak for themselves, Carmen remains adamant that it is the individuals within the statistics that she focuses on. “We are proud of the big numbers, but what we are prouder of are the individuals that make up that 1300 people assisted. That is what I’m most proud of – each of the people we have been able to help.” One example centre of mind for Carmen is a man named Mike that GG recently assisted. He had been living in his car for over five years and his caseworker had helped him into accommodation he could afford. “We do the work through the caseworkers as they are the experts on managing the needs of these people. Often, they used to manage furniture, yet caseworkers shouldn’t be wasting their time and energy on furniture when we can help, as there are so many other factors like employment and trauma recovery. Mike came to the warehouse, wanted to help with the lifting, moving and transport, choosing the pieces he wanted. He emailed us photos of his new apartment all set up beautifully and he was so thrilled. But it was the last sentence in his email that brought a tear to most of us: ‘now finally after years my kids can come and stay again.’ It makes me cry just thinking about it! It took a few different people, services and support – it wasn’t furniture that we delivered him – it was his family together again.”
This incredible philanthropic commitment is why Carmen has been named the Ryde Citizen of the Year 2021. “I will always be proud of being the founder, and my beautiful co-founder Davida joined me soon afterward. But the organisation is so much more than it could have ever been with just the two of us. We have a can-do team that bring their muscles and their minds. It’s not just mine or Davida’s organisation – we are the product of so many people. It is GG’s award, I just got to stand up and receive the pretty flowers and the accolade – I’m so proud to be the founder of GG but I can’t take all the glory, it takes a team.”
To keep up to date with Carmen Platt and The Generous and The Grateful, visit https://www.generousandgrateful.com.au/
DONATIONS GG IS IN NEED OF
“We are always desperate for fridges and washing machines, 10 years and younger that are working. They are the items that every household needs, especially if there is more than one person. It can be really difficult to find enough. So – people who have a spare fridge in their garage or laundry that is only used in case of entertaining, that could be used to feed a family in need. If anyone hears of people renovating, up-sizing, downsizing, assisting seniors into care, that is the time fridges and washing machines often become available. Understand what we do and why and having conversations with people about helping people in need. Quality and clean donations are key – ‘better than nothing’ items don’t necessarily improve a life very much. We are here to make people’s lives a lot better quickly.”