Jeff was born in Port Elizabeth and in his early 30s was already a prominent businessman in Namibia, owning four successful business in different industries – fast foods, packaging, commercial fishery and egroponics. After 26 years of running these businesses successfully, Jeff made a few bad business decisions and discovered that some of his partners were embezzling money, leaving him with a huge amount of debt.
Jeff came back to South Africa after losing his companies and tried building up his life, as a self-taught chef Jeff opened a restaurant “The restaurant was promising, and it had to work because I invested everything I had in it. I ran the restaurant for 3 years and it was struggling to make profit let alone break-even, I knew that I would have to eventually close it down, and ultimately I did.”
After drawing his last straw, Jeff found himself on the streets “Being homeless on the streets, means dealing with the fact that nobody can or is willing to help you with a warm meal or shelter, and you keep on playing with the idea in your head that everyone around you is against you, every single waking minute. It’s a very dehumanizing, bleak outlook to have about the people around you. It’s no wonder many homeless people turn to alcohol and harder drugs like Heroin to cope with this” after 5 years of being in the streets, Jeff was introduced by a friend to Karen Cain a social worker at The Carpenters Shop.
The Carpenter’s Shop known as TCS is non-profit organisation based in Cape Town. TCS provides its beneficiaries with access to a variety of free ablution facilities and vocational skills training to help them acquire a new skill, trade or expertise with an aim to become financially stable and to be reintegrated into the mainstream. TCS services include social work services, rehabilitation, healthcare and opportunities for education.
TCS has a second phase structured temporary residential facility for those who have passed through an initial rehabilitation phase and are willing to acquire assistance prior to reintegration. We offer a serene and comfortable living space at Geoff Burton House, which can accommodate up to 40 people and the residents are all employed and pay a nominal monthly rental.
TCS provide it 65 of it beneficiaries with one meal per day and toiletries donated by FoodBank SA. TCS also support the beneficiaries with second-hand clothing and a place to wash and dry their clothing.
When Jeff arrived at TCS, he was immediately put into a rehabilitation programme and received counseling to help him deal with his past experiences and focus on the future. With vast experience in farming and business management, Jeff is assisting The Carpenters Shop to start a community vegetable garden, this garden will help the organisation to become self-sustainable. Jeff also plans on offering business skills and cooking lessons to the beneficiaries of TCS.
“I may be 64 years but I feel like a 25 year old, I still have dreams and one is to keep my promise of starting The Carpenters Shop Community Garden Project, to assist those who were just like me”
FoodBank South Africa supports TCS with nutritious food to provide breakfast and lunch to their 65 residents daily as well as meals to the homeless making use of their free clinic and toiletries for their residents, as well as the homeless that visit daily to make use of the ablution facilities and detergents. The donations enable The Ark to save on their monthly expenses and use the money saved for developing their facilities.