For a decade PackSolve has been supporting Oliver’s House, an NGO that supports vulnerable children and adults on Gauteng’s East Rand. Located near Zenzele informal settlement in Daveyton, Oliver’s House started humbly as a soup kitchen in Benoni in 2001, but today it’s so much more.
‘If you start listing the successes of Oliver’s House, it really makes you think of what you could do yourself,’ says Alex Baisch, CEO of PackSolve. ‘They grow their own food and offer a free daily meal to anyone in the community. That includes over 130 toddlers they work with every day. There are also educational facilities to help people matriculate. It’s amazing – there’s no other word for it.’
In 2004, the NGO bought the former Home Affairs building in Benoni and established its education and computer learning centres, and by 2006 it purchased 11 acres of property in Putfontein near Zenzele, today the site of all its operations.
‘When you see the smiles and hear the stories from the people we can help, it shows how important a place such as Oliver’s House is,’ says Lola Wortley, director of Planning and Development at Oliver’s House. ‘But we couldn’t have done so without the support from our patrons and benefactors. Both PackSolve Drums and PackSolve Packaging have been supporting us for a good number of years. We are very proud and honoured to be associated with two such dynamic companies and their staff.’
PackSolve’s involvement began in 2009 when its financial manager collected clothes from staff for the charity. This expanded into financial support as PackSolve – a major supplier of different industrial packaging solutions – resolved that social and community development is one of its strategic pillars.
‘We take corporate social investment very seriously at PackSolve,’ Baisch explains. ‘It’s not a nice-to-have. We place significant cultural and business importance on this. Many of our employees come from areas where opportunities and development are limited. They must see that PackSolve as their employer cares about this and works towards changing things. It’s an attitude that we extend across our strategy, such as providing many training and skills enrichment opportunities to staff. But this can’t just exist inhouse. As an empathic organisation, we must support others as well – and that’s where Oliver’s House comes in.’
The relationship between Oliver’s House and PackSolve is not happenstance. Both share similar cultural values, notably the need for development and opportunity support. For example, the education centre at Oliver’s House offers a chance for community members to study towards their Grade 12 matriculation, a service sorely needed among South Africa’s most underprivileged. Younger students who are preparing for or recently failed their grade 12 exams can also use the facilities.
In addition to this, Oliver’s House is aiming to be self-sustained. It grows its own food with the cooperation of the nearby community, augmenting its resource needs with solar panels and rain-capturing systems. The ablution blocks use natural lighting and cooking is even done on biogas that is produced on-site.
PackSolve’s support is both material in donations and its staff also donate their time to help out. Baisch said it’s an honour to do so: ‘If you look at what Oliver’s House has accomplished so far, it’s a standout example of what we can achieve in South Africa. I find it very humbling that we can be a part of their work and I believe it’s what helps make PackSolve a more involved and caring place to work.’