Chevrolet Ute Force has invested almost R2 million in several projects, large and small, aiming to help South Africans to help themselves. With a view to sustainability and a focus on everyday heroes, South Africans are being helped to make a difference in their communities.
"The idea is to have a positive impact on the lives of children where possible," says Tim Hendon, Chevrolet brand manager at General Motors South Africa. "With each project we ensure continuity, a transfer of skills, and leave secure in the knowledge that the people who we affected can look after themselves once we have gone."
The outcome has been the successful completion of several major and minor projects with more to follow. The major projects include creating a cricket pitch at Cowan High School in the Eastern Cape outside Port Elizabeth where previously only a bag of kit existed and was used on a dusty patch. Hendon believes that sport inspires children and teaches them valuable life skills so with the maintenance skills transferred to the teachers, pupils and their parents, the cricket pitch will continue to deliver well into the future.
Transforming daily lives
The second major project may on the surface appear to be simply completing an unfinished borehole for the Mooiplaas community of around 12 000 households 90km outside Nelspruit. However, it transformed the daily lives and income potential of the community by enabling them to grow their own vegetables to eat, with surplus to sell to local shops and vendors.
The third mission established a vegetable garden at Lulama Primary School in Soweto, teaching almost 500 pupils, teachers and parents to care for it, renovating classrooms, and performing light plumbing maintenance.
St Reginalds Primary School in the Eastern Cape was the fourth beneficiary when 230 pupils received meals and cricket equipment as well as a visit by members of the Chevrolet Warriors cricket team.
For the Valley of 1000 Hills Community Centre servicing the people of Inchanga, Fredville and surrounding areas, Chevrolet Ute Force will upgrade computers and replace desks, shelves and chairs at the ABET training centre and internet café. The group maintains a community care centre with a health and wellness clinic, children's infirmary, a feeding scheme, education and development facility. The internet café provides basic adult literacy training one day per week from 9am to 1pm and community members gain supervised access to the computers as they are available for general purposes.
At Sparrow Rainbow Village, a hospice for orphaned and affected children, Chevrolet Ute Force built a sand pit in an organic shape and used recycled tyres for its border. The team created an occupational therapy area to exercise the children and help them with the skills so fundamental to everyday life as an adult. It included having rubber mats colourfully painted, an outdoor sleep area was created based on a colourful theme, the surrounding fence was painted, existing playground equipment painted, wooden logs painted and manoeuvred to cordon off an area for play, and additional toys were bought for children to use in the garden.
Renovating Ons Plek
Another substantial project saw Chevrolet Ute Force help to renovate Ons Plek, the residential child and youth care centre in Cape Town that provides developmental and therapeutic services for girls who have lived, worked or begged on the streets of Cape Town. The week-long project, led by Ute Force participant and designer, TV personality and actor Aidan Bennetts of Top Billing fame, rerouted a gutter to clear the courtyard at Ons Plek for recreation purposes, tiled the courtyard from bare concrete, scraped down and re-waterproofed the walls, bared, rust-proofed and painted the balcony wrought iron filigree, built and installed a shelter for the wheelie bins, built and installed a bench, and installed secure planters to add greenery to the courtyard. Adam Whitehouse, creative director at advertising agency, Native Cape Town, secured the services of graffiti artist Faith47 who has a bent for social activism, to create a striking mural that will continue to draw attention to Ons Plek long after Ute Force has left.
The most recent project has Chevrolet Ute Force supporting Lighthouse Run, which includes a group of four women athletes running 1 200km along South Africa's coast, the equivalent of a marathon a day for six weeks, to raise awareness about abuse against women and children. Lighthouse Run seeks to raise R1 million to help victims in immediate danger through funding and participation in existing non-governmental organisation (NGO) initiatives, and in a second phase to provide rehabilitation for abusers and communities through empowerment programmes. Chevrolet Ute Force is providing sponsorship to be used for various fuel, accommodation, and other logistical requirements while two Chevrolet Utility bakkies are carrying various essentials such as food, water and equipment. It is providing marketing support that consists of a video crew from Bolton Inc who will produce documentaries to be hosted at www.uteforce.co.za. Many of the other projects also have documentary videos hosted at the same site.
Several smaller projects have also been delivered such as lawn mowing for a year at Holy Cross Primary School in Cape Town to keep the playground clear. Money was donated to Kitty & Puppy Haven to create a space for the animals to run free for a few hours each day. Payment was made to auditors for a youth art centre that helps marginalised children in the community and which operates on church grounds in Ebony Park in Midrand so that it now has an NGO number to raise its own funds.
There are several large and small projects still in the pipeline as part of Chevrolet's Ute Force programme and more currently being rolled out.
Each project draws from a pool of charitable partners, experts, artisans, small and large businesses. Builders Warehouse deserves special mention since it has been with Chevrolet Ute Force throughout the campaign offering assistance where possible. Soweto entrepreneur Brutus Nelukula, owner and operator of Artisans Development Corporation, has provided various building services at discounted rates and has also stepped in to provide ad-hoc help as needed. Aidan Bennetts, designer, popular TV presenter most notably for Top Billing since 2006, and actor presents for a video production of each major campaign and facilitates the programme in a number of other ways.
In 2013, the second year of the campaign, a Chevrolet Utility vehicle may be donated to a deserving candidate who unreservedly gave their time and expertise to facilitate a campaign and who makes a difference in their community.