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Spur’s Full Tummy Fund boosts efforts of local Spur restaurants in supporting the children of Bethesda

Establishing a non-governmental organisation (NGO) is always a project born out of a burning desire to see a chronic societal ill addressed. With an already-overburdened social system, the public sector is unable to support every worthy cause, and funding proves to be a continuous challenge. Thus, NGOs are largely reliant on benefactors within the community to keep their doors open.

Bethesda Child and Youth Centre, an NGO based in George, is one such example. The NGO provides holistic, compassionate and sustainable care to the community, with the aim of improving quality of life.  Among the services it offers are end of life care, sub-acute care, rehabilitation and developmental stimulation through its Intermediate Care Facility, while its Home Community Based Care division offers at-home care services such as referrals to primary healthcare, adherence support, health promotion and health screenings (households and crèches).

Geronimo Spur and Timber Wolf Spur are local businesses that have been actively involved with Bethesda since 2010. Owned by Nanno Evenhuis and Dean Hahn (who own a number of other franchises that fall under the Spur Group umbrella) and several others, these restaurants provide funding to the centre on an ongoing basis.

The Full Tummy Fund, a Spur Foundation vehicle for educational development and nutritional programme investment, regularly invites all franchisees within the Spur Group to nominate a charity they have opted to support, in order for the fund to supplement franchisees’ community efforts through its own donation.

Geronimo Spur & Timber Wolf Spur shareholder Nanno Evenhuis explains, “Given the existing relationship between Bethesda and Spur, the Full Tummy Fund agreed to donate brand new school uniforms to learners residing at Bethesda’s two residential facilities. These homes accommodate orphans and vulnerable children placed in the centre’s care.

“The children generally make use of second-hand clothing, and the new uniforms gave learners a much-need confidence boost and sense of belonging. We also treated the kids to a meal at the Spur – for many of them, their first ever visit to a restaurant.

“Sponsoring the uniforms also assisted in alleviating some of the financial pressure on the centre, so that funds could be redirected towards fulfilling other needs.”

Nanno Evenhuis and his late wife Jeanette have, in fact, been involved with the centre since 2005, yet in a personal capacity. Explains Evenhuis, “I had discovered St Mary’s Children’s Home (now part of Bethesda) was to be closed due to lack of funds. This was unfathomable to myself and my wife given that George is a relatively wealthy community, and so we decided to offer a monthly contribution.”

Shortly after the relationship was established, Evenhuis was approached to take on the role of the Financial Director at the centre. Over the next five years and under Evenhuis’ guidance, the centre’s finances and administration were streamlined, and Bethesda developed into a well-functioning NGO.

Says Evenhuis, “Aside from the fact that it is simply the right thing to do, we always maintain that a business can only flourish when the community in which it operates is healthy. It is important for us as residents to come together to support those organisations which play a critical role in caring for our community.”

For more information or to get involved, contact Mandy Lucas on 044-875 8088 or projectsassist@bethesdageorge.org.za