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Finding Purpose on the Beach: My Life-Changing Journey with SMART

My journey with SMART (Stranded Marine Animal Rescue Team) began after our retirement and move to Mossel Bay. This non-profit, established in 2015, rescues stranded marine mammals and turtles. Our role is to respond quickly to animals on beaches, prioritising their well-being.

While Cape Fur Seals basking on rocks is normal, pups washed ashore during storms need our help. When pup strandings are reported, the SMART teams immediately respond so that the pups can be picked up and taken to a place of safety. We reunite them with their island home as soon as possible. Sadly, three sick Sub Antarctic Seal Pups we found resting last year didn’t survive.

Similarly, dolphins, whales, and turtles on beaches are unnatural occurrences requiring our immediate response. For live animals, we keep them safe, educate onlookers, and ensure they aren’t touched or fed. Resting animals don’t need water or covering! Injured animals are evaluated by a vet for possible treatment. SMART even supports global research by collecting data from stranded or deceased animals.

We believe ocean education starts young. SMART educates children through school visits with Sammy, our entertaining turtle mascot. Dressing up as Sammy also provides us with many giggles trying to get in and out of the costume!

Joining SMART fulfilled the “give back” section of my Bucket Wheel® and has enriched my life beyond measure. It has given me a renewed sense of purpose, and the best part is that I get to learn, play, and work in the most incredible office ever – the beach!

Chartered’s Year in Review: Making a Difference Through Give Back Initiatives

Give back is one of the key components of the Wheel of Balance. It’s important to note that giving back goes beyond charity work; it’s about making a positive impact and establishing a lasting legacy. This can take various forms, including volunteering, mentoring, or supporting causes that align with your values. At Chartered, we strongly believe in giving back, not just during retirement but throughout our lives. That’s why we promote integrating giving back into the lives of our clients and staff. We provide numerous opportunities throughout the year for staff members to participate in give back activities.

This year, we partnered with the Sunshine Association, an organisation dedicated to supporting children with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities, as well as their families and communities. The organisation offers a wide range of services, including early intervention, therapy, training, and support groups.

Our initial project involved establishing a thriving vegetable garden that helps provide food for the children and their families. Following this, we designed and constructed a sensory garden for the children. Sensory gardens offer many benefits for children with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities, including sensory stimulation, motor development, cognitive enhancement, social and emotional growth, relaxation, and stress reduction. The sensory garden has been a tremendous success, and the children thoroughly enjoy exploring it. Finally, we sanded and painted the jungle gym in the playground.

Some of our staff members spent a wonderful afternoon at the Johannesburg Children’s Home, where they painted the pool fence. The Johannesburg Children’s Home provides a safe haven for up to 64 children who have been deemed in need of care by the Children’s Court. JCH cares for Orphans and Vulnerable Children who have been identified as disadvantaged due to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, severe neglect, or abandonment.

In our Cape Town office, the giving-back initiative took the form of creating Santa Shoe Boxes. The Santa Shoebox Project is an organisation that collects and distributes personalised gifts consisting of essential items and treats for underprivileged children across South Africa and Namibia. Each year, the project aims to bring joy to over 150,000 children in need.

Meanwhile, staff from our Eastern Cape office assembled care packs for Vistarus Mission Station, an organisation that provides a safe haven for impoverished, homeless, and addicted individuals, with the goal of reintegrating them into society.

These give back initiatives served as a reminder of the profound difference we can make in the lives of others, demonstrating that even the smallest acts of kindness can have a ripple effect, creating a more compassionate and connected community.

Are you involved in any give back initiatives? If so, please get in touch, as we would love to share your story.

Transforming Zoo Lake One Clean-Up at a Time

Zoo Lake, a cherished oasis in Johannesburg, owes its origin to banker and mining magnate Herman Eckstein. In the late 19th century, Eckstein envisioned a lush city oasis, initially naming it Sachsenwald after Otto von Bismarck’s estate. After his death, his partners donated land to the Johannesburg City Council in 1904, leading to the creation of Herman Eckstein Park and a zoo. In 1906, an artificial lake, aptly named Zoo Lake, was added, becoming its centrepiece. The Coronation Fountain was added in 1937 to honour King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and remains a famous landmark of Johannesburg.

Over the years, Zoo Lake has evolved into a vibrant hub for community gatherings, sporting events, and cultural celebrations. Its sprawling lawns provide ample space for picnics. In recent years, Zoo Lake has faced the challenge of litter, a common issue in many public spaces.

Stuart Norman, a Chartered client, has lived in Parkview for 17 years. Like many residents, his busy life prevented him from doing more than just using the park for recreational walks and bike rides.

One day recently, while walking around Zoo Lake, Stuart was struck by the amount of litter everywhere. Stuart had an idea and was determined to make a difference. He had been so impressed by the cleanliness of Rwanda on a recent trip, and he was convinced that if Rwanda could be cleaned up after its turbulent history, surely Zoo Lake could be cleaned up too.

Stuart’s initiative took flight when he reached out to a residents’ group, inquiring about the availability of a skip for an upcoming clean-up effort he had planned. The response was overwhelmingly positive, prompting him to establish a dedicated WhatsApp group exclusively for residents eager to rejuvenate Zoo Lake. Stuart then forged a partnership with the Zoo Lake Users Committee, setting the wheels in motion for their inaugural clean-up event.

The event was a success, with 13 paid staff and four volunteers participating. They filled 155 bags of rubbish, waste and glass. The second clean-up was even larger and more successful, collecting 210 bags of litter. It’s important to note that these clean-ups are not focused solely on picking up the litter left behind, as the council already employs staff for this purpose. Rather, the emphasis lies on revitalising the general area, the lawns and the lake itself. To clean the lake, volunteers are equipped with pool nets, allowing them to retrieve discarded bottles and plastic from the water.

Stuart has managed to raise R19,000 in donations to date, and local businesses have stepped in to help. The money raised is used to provide lunch and refreshments for staff and volunteers, buy equipment needed and pay the staff hired to help with the clean-up. Several of the individuals employed to clean the lake reside in nearby shelters and appreciate an extra day of work and pay.

Stuart is committed to making Zoo Lake a clean and beautiful place for everyone to enjoy. He believes that the key to sustainability is to have a long-term strategy. Stuart’s vision extends to involving all the suburbs around Zoo Lake, mirroring the successful approach that transformed Central Park into the beloved destination it is today. You can’t help feeling inspired by Stuart’s story as it really proves that change begins with you and that you need to be the change you want to see in the world.

If you would like to know more about the project or get involved, you can contact Stuart on 0825572706

Spotlight on San Sereno

Nestled amidst the tranquil surroundings of Bryanston, Johannesburg, lies San Sereno, an idyllic haven for people seeking a vibrant and fulfilling lifestyle. San Sereno was acquired in 2017 by Auria Senior Living, a company focused on setting a new gold standard in senior living and care and providing the best quality of life to their residents. This award-winning retirement village offers a harmonious blend of sophisticated living, personalised care, and a wealth of amenities, catering to the diverse needs of its residents.

San Sereno’s elegant apartments and villas provide a sense of spaciousness and comfort, each meticulously designed to foster a warm and inviting atmosphere. Residents can choose from a variety of layouts, ranging from cosy one-bedroom units to spacious villas, all equipped with modern conveniences and tasteful finishes. For residents who require some help daily, their Assisted Living Suites provide a welcoming living environment where their Care Team are always close at hand, ready to assist as and when required.

Residents have a variety of services at their disposal. They provide an array of daily services that cater to their every need. On-demand services include laundry, housekeeping, golf cart shuttle, concierge, and round-the-clock emergency response.

Air-conditioned cinemas, fascinating talks, inspiring cultural and social events and entertainment are just a few of the many social events. Residents have access to a state-of-the-art wellness centre, gym, heated swimming pool, as well as a wide range of activities such as strength and balance classes, aqua aerobics, cardio workouts, Pilates and yoga. Biokineticists, physiotherapists, sought-after geriatricians, audiologists, optometrists, podiatrists and more are available to all residents.

San Sereno operates on a Life Rights model. You pay an upfront amount, which secures the right for you to occupy and enjoy your unit for the remainder of your life/lives. During this time, a monthly levy is payable to fund general operating and common area maintenance costs. This levy allows Auria Senior Living to take care of community management, maintenance, security and the provision of services in the senior living community.

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Meet San Sereno Resident– Vicky Lavagna-Slater

Vicky moved to San Sereno in May 2022 after having called Vanderbijlpark home for many years. Her husband had passed away, and she craved companionship. She particularly appreciates the friendly residents and staff, as well as the property itself, particularly the meticulously maintained gardens by the dedicated staff and residents alike.

Vicky has an active social life at San Sereno and plays bowls regularly, a pastime that has brought her immense joy and well-being. She also makes use of the heated pool to do aqua aerobics classes and enjoys a vibrant social calendar filled with art classes, bingo nights, and social gatherings organised by San Sereno.

Vicky describes San Sereno as a happy place where conveniences are close at hand, like a coffee shop, hairdresser, restaurant, and cinema. Adding to its charm is its prime location, making shopping excursions to Nicolway, Sandton City, or Fourways Mall hassle-free.

Vicky highly recommends San Sereno for anyone seeking a secure, welcoming, and impeccably managed community to call home.

Beyond the wrapping paper
The Present of Presence

Beyond the wrapping paper
The Present of Presence

It’s November, and the holiday season is just around the corner – another year gone by in the blink of an eye. It’s been a whirlwind year, and I am slightly apprehensive about the possibility of getting lost in the fluster of holiday shopping and the quest for the perfect gift. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love shopping and find no greater joy than spoiling my special people with beautifully wrapped presents. But what if the most precious gift we can offer can’t be wrapped? What if the true essence of giving lies in something far more valuable than a tangible gift – our presence.

We’ve had a wonderful year together as you joined me in embracing the present moment, stepping out of our comfort zones and going on many first-time, brand-new adventures! It’s been an absolute privilege sharing all my new experiences with you, and I loved hearing all your stories of new roads travelled, slow and easy excursions venturing into undiscovered places, moving to new homes, cities and provinces, and forgotten hopes and dreams turning into realities.

As we wrap up this year, I have one final challenge for you and myself: to prioritise ‘Presence over Presents.’

This year has taught me that the moments we share hold more value than the things we own and the dreams we accumulate. But creating these memories can be challenging as it calls for the most personal of gifts – our time. Something we often don’t always have enough of. And this is the hard part – and certainly one of my most significant challenges: giving my time and being fully present with the people I love while juggling a busy schedule.

So, let’s promise to try our best to give ourselves – and others – the gift of time and presence this holiday season. I am very excited about a two-week beach holiday with my family and friends, spending uninterrupted time with them and spoiling all my special people with delicious meals. This is my chance to make up for all the moments missed and create new memories.

Just in case you need more ideas: Why not invite your best friend for a delicious dinner instead of buying a gift? Spend the evening fully engaged, actively listening, and giving them your full attention. Or dedicate one device-free hour every evening for family time or self-reflection. Spend an afternoon helping at your favourite charity or schedule activities with your loved ones that you know they would love. If your granddaughter loves art, why not do pottery with her? Or arrange a movie and ice cream day with a grandson … build a bonfire and roast marshmallows. Write a heartfelt letter to someone you love or take a long walk with a family member.

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life rightfully says: “Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it… When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back.”

Let’s embrace the true gift of connection, shared experiences and each other’s presence this festive season. Wishing you a wonderful holiday filled with joyous moments and the present of presence.

Ladles of Love

Chartered Client Claire Claasens firmly believes that if you have been blessed in life, you must support those less fortunate, and it’s a motto she has always lived by. For three and a half years (before Covid), she volunteered at one of the local schools in Vredehoek. Four mornings a week, she would assist in making breakfast for four hundred pupils, ensuring they got one balanced meal a day.

When Covid hit, and schools closed, Claire began assisting an organisation called Ladles of Love, something she still does today at the age of seventy-seven. Twice a week, she makes sandwiches that she delivers to a central depot and are then distributed in the community.

In six years, Ladles of Love has grown from serving seventy meals at their soup kitchen to one of the most prolific food charity organisations in South Africa. Today, they support numerous other community kitchens, schools, social enterprises, and NPOs with much-needed groceries and other goods, allowing them to reach out further and touch the lives of the vulnerable who need it now more than ever. They recently expanded and currently serve the communities in Cape Town and Gauteng.

Ladles of Love provides numerous opportunities for people to get involved. One way is through their Feed The Soil programme. Feed The Soil is a programme in which compost is made from household organic waste. Feed The Soil addresses the need for “zero-landfill” food waste and the need for Community Farmers to enrich their soil. This helps them grow better and more nutritious produce. You actively form part of their new urban farming ecosystem by purchasing and using their Food Waste Kit for R200.

People can also support the organisation through their sandwich campaign, by donating groceries or by actively volunteering. There is something for everyone.

If you would like more information about Ladles of Love, please visit their website.

Do you have something that you are doing to give back to society, or are you passionate about an organisation or cause you would like to share with us? We always love sharing your stories, so please email us if there is something you would like us to feature.

Building a new career of relevance and meaning in retirement

After a career spanning 53 years in engineering, Chartered client Kenneth Charles found himself wondering what he would do for the rest of his life. As it happened, at the same time, his son Elliot had decided to expand his knowledge in IT and start his own company building websites. While watching his son navigate his way through the ins and outs of building a startup, Kenneth decided to use his time helping his son grow his business and so began his journey into the world of IT.

Kenneth started by learning WordPress, a platform used for building websites. Once he had mastered the art of building websites, he wanted to understand the back end in more detail and decided to delve deeper into the world of IT. Courses in numerous Google certifications followed. Kenneth learnt how to use coding programmes such as HTML5 and CSS. More recently, he has been studying Confluence, Jira, and Trello, programmes that help in collaborative working amongst team members and clients.

As Elliot’s company, called 1.3Creative, grew, they decided to give back to those less fortunate by offering free assistance to charities who need a website or an upgrade to an existing website. To date, they have helped numerous charities, including many in Africa. As part of their offering, they mentor volunteers who need assistance obtaining practical experience by working with them in the building or upgrading websites. Kenneth derives a lot of satisfaction by helping upskill others so that they may enjoy a better life.

He firmly believes that you must never be afraid to learn something new, no matter your age. At the age of 77, he fully embraces his second career, which has become a full-time one.

His passion for giving back to those less fortunate is also evident. Kenneth ended off our interview by sharing this quote. “It’s nice when someone smiles, but even nicer when someone smiles because of you.”

Chartered give back initiatives – 2022

“When you’re in a position to have gotten so much, the gift at this point is giving back”– Paul Stanley

We believe that balance is the key to a fulfilled life. One of the key areas of balance is give back. Giving lifts our spirits and makes us happy. It is through giving that we make our own lives richer. At Chartered, we believe in encompassing the wheel of balance, so each staff member is required to volunteer two hours of their time to help those in need. Covid hindered our give back opportunities during the past two years, but thankfully we are on track again, with our focus for 2022 being meaningful impact.

Our first partner organisation is Fight with Insight. Fight with Insight was established in the city with the vision of creating a safe place for the children of Johannesburg, using boxing to teach them life skills that assist them in taking responsibility for claiming their rights. Their offerings extend beyond boxing, and they also focus on the following: fitness, friends, food, feelings, future, and fun. We have partnered with them in their life skills programme and are working with a group of young adults around financial literacy. Once a month, a team from Chartered will spend time covering a wide variety of topics relating to financial literacy. By working with the same group of youngsters throughout the year and tailoring our topics to meet their needs, we aim to equip them with the financial skills required later on in life.

Fight with Insight has a strong focus on physical activity. They believe it’s a vital pillar of mental health, so each week, inner-city youth and children with autism and members of the public are invited to attend a morning of physical activity. The morning kicks off with an inner-city run followed by two hours of boxing and conditioning. A lunch, prepared by the youth in the programme, is then served, and everyone enjoys a meal together. The philosophy behind this is “doing with and not for”. Because these children often struggle with relationship building, the aim is simply to be together, learning from each other and exposing the youngsters to individuals they might not otherwise get to meet. Many of our fitter staff members have signed up to participate in this programme.

As is often the case with charities, the focus to remain financially afloat means there are often no resources for personal development and soft skills. All our staff members are taken through Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead programme at Chartered. This was implemented after Kim Potgieter trained under Brene Brown to become a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator. The essence behind Dare to Lead is equipping leaders with the necessary skills to have the courage to lean into vulnerability and connect on an authentic level. We will be inviting representatives from various NGOs and taking them through the Dare to Lead programme. We aim to help equip them to bravely lead their organisations and help them have courageous conversations.

For the staff who prefer to give back by getting their hands dirty, we are partnering with Hearts of Hope and helping them paint their new home, which will house 18 orphaned and vulnerable children.

New Give back opportunities will become available throughout the year, and various in-house drives such as a collection of books, old work clothes and sanitary pads will take place. If you would like to get involved with any of the drives mentioned, or if you want to share ways that you give back, please email Lyndsay, we love hearing from you.

Paying it forward

Growing older is not about getting old. It’s more about growing. And growing never gets old. You grow and learn for all of your life – it’s not something you get to pause. It happens all by itself as you live, work, play and love. There’s a lesson to be learnt every day and many lessons each year.

Now imagine yourself as a curator – the custodian of a wealth of knowledge and wisdom accumulated over many years. What are you doing with your collection of expertise?

A while back, I read a blog by Chip Conley where he says that “our wisdom is not our possession.” It’s meant to be shared. Wisdom is what nourishes our society and makes it stronger. What better way to add value and give back to others than to cultivate all the sage lessons you’ve accumulated in your life and then pay it forward.

You can pay your wisdom forward in many ways. By sharing your knowledge: teaching your skills, mentoring someone younger, developing someone’s talent or simply using your experience and standing to facilitate opportunities for other people.

Last year, I was invited to speak at the FPI Convention. Instead of taking the stage and presenting the talk, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to cultivate wisdom by sharing the learning experience across generations.

I invited four young women who represented the WiFN (Women in Finance Network) to share their stories and talk about their personal journeys in the financial planning industry. I loved the opportunity to facilitate the session, and I felt so privileged to be nurturing the experience-base and learning of these ladies. I’m also pretty sure that the conference delegates walked out of that session having learnt far more than they thought they would. We learn from each other, and as much as the younger generation learns from us, they also teach us something.

I did a lot of talks last year! Especially after the launch of my book, but this was by far the most rewarding and joyous experience!

Learning and sharing what I know has always been one of the first items I add to my vision board each year. I’m constantly in awe about how much I learn from every Chartered client I meet. It’s the wisdom that’s shared with me that gives me the content for writing my books and the lessons I teach.

Sharing your wisdom rewards both you and your intern, and each nugget of wisdom you share makes the world a better place. But these types of experiences don’t just happen. Sometimes you have to look for opportunities to uplift others and help them get where they want to go.

Pairing your wisdom with someone else’s expertise may just lead to unimaginable growth for both of you. And that’s the real value of paying it forward.

Letting go of goods that no longer serve us

Covid has given us all time to reflect on what no longer serves us. Many clients have shared stories with us about cleaning out their homes and getting rid of stuff they no longer need. The challenge, however, often lies in knowing where to donate or sell goods you no longer need.

Charity shops

Many charities sustain their organisations through charity shops. The concept of charity shops is brilliant as it is an effective way to donate goods and rid your home of unused items. The items are then sold to the public, and the proceeds are used to sustain the charity for which they operate. Charity shops accept most items, so it’s a perfect place to offload books, appliances, bric-a-brac and clothes. Thrift shopping has become extremely popular, so your pre-loved items will likely go to a good home. See a complete list of charity shops in the various provinces. Please remember to check whether or not the charity shop can collect items from your house or whether or not you need to deliver, as this may impact your choice of charity shop depending on the items you are donating.

Online platforms

With technology at our fingertips, selling goods online has become popular, be it a boat, record collection or old wedding dress. If you have goods that you would like to sell, there are various platforms one can use; however, when determining which platform to utilise, keep in mind minor details such as fees, suitability, and convenience. Figure out which site is best for what you want to sell. Selling an old PC or laptop necessitates a different platform than selling a couch or refrigerator. A trial run on a free marketplace, like Gumtree, is always a good idea to learn the ins and outs. Remember that some sites might have strict terms and conditions, branding limitations or “hidden” (or less obvious) costs that you need to look out for, so read the pricing policy and their Terms & Conditions very carefully.

Gumtree, OLX and Facebook Marketplace are examples of free classifieds sites. You can advertise your products for free, but selling, shipping and payment processing becomes the seller’s responsibility. Visit Rateweb to read more about selling your goods online. Remember that there are so many scammers out there, so we encourage you to read these safety tips before buying or selling anything online.

Community organisations

When cleaning out, don’t forget organisations in your areas. Places like churches and community halls often host teas, so they welcome extra cups, saucers, and side plates. Local schools and libraries always welcome books.

If you are struggling to begin the process of decluttering, try the KonMari Method™, which encourages tidying by category – not by location – starting with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, miscellaneous items, and, finally, sentimental items. Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.