Housed in a little cottage in a quiet residential street you will find angels. Not the kind with wings, but the next best thing. It’s been a while since I wrote about the amazing services that can be found in our community, so I headed down to CARE Waitakere on Te Atatu Peninsula and chatted with Christie McGiven, their lovely services manager.
The staff at CARE Waitakere embrace a philosophy of ‘coming alongside to restore, and empower’, which if you’re super attentive, you’ll see spells out the CARE acronym. The organization was started two decades ago by a couple of counsellors who were passionate about the idea of seeing low-cost counselling being provided in the community. Since then, the not-for-profit has grown – Christie tells me they have around 20 therapists, plus all the admin team, board, and volunteers who run the other programmes.
CARE believe in removing barriers to treatment, and so they apply for funding to subsidise almost every useful family service you can imagine. There’s budgeting help, a social worker, cooking classes, and obviously counselling and psychological services too. They hold many contracts (including ACC ones) and Christie enjoys having an understanding of the end-to-end nature of her work. She gets to see the process from someone first phoning reception to ask for some help, right through to being matched with the right kind of assistance.
Everything is ‘as-free-as-possible’ – so people pay what they can afford, or in many cases - services are completely subsidised. The Christmas hampers are a big project, and providing advocacy for things like WINZ appointments is another example of help CARE can provide. ‘We’re very resourceful and creative’ says Christie with a grin – 'we do everything we can to provide help to the people who need it'.
The counselling room I’m sitting in with Christie is lovely and welcoming, but it’s clear from our conversation that CARE know how to stretch a dollar. Which is why I’m not surprised when she explains just how valuable financial support can be. ‘A $20 donation directly means we can provide some counselling to a child who may desperately need it’. And of course volunteered help is always appreciated. ‘You might love gardening and be able to spend a few hours helping us with our garden out the front, or be able to do some foodbank collections.' She says they understand the flexible nature of volunteering and don’t want people to think they have to commit regular hours, but can fit helping around their busy lives. ‘An upholsterer’, she muses further, ‘lots of our chairs are really old…’
Christie has been with CARE 5 years now, and she loves seeing the wonderful West Auckland community getting involved. The local schools run food bank collections which she thinks is great because it teaches young people about charitable giving. The brochure talks of 'non-judgemental, strengths-based support', and it's easy to see just how this is lived out in the services provided at CARE.
If you need counselling, budgeting help, advocacy, family or social work support get in touch and see what they can do – there are no age or area restrictions.
Or perhaps you have a few hours or dollars to spare, I know they'd love to hear from you. You might even know of an upholsterer... :-)