Welcome to The Aunties – I’m Jackie. I’m the Aunty In Charge. This is my seventh year of working with women who are living or who have lived in DV.
If you’re curious about what I/we do, it is simply this. I am the interface between a number of community organisations, and a burgeoning number of individual women, and a group of people called The Aunties.
(There is still some idea that I work with women in refuges. I stopped doing that in September, 2017. . All 300 – 400 women I see in a year are not in refuges. Some of them are leading violence free lives, and some of them aren’t. A couple are in “hiding”, most are not. Some of them have been in women’s refuges, some of them haven’t. They all live in the community – mostly in South Auckland – and they are all people of extraordinary spirit and heart. But they are NOT in women’s refuges.)
The Aunties primary focus is to provide the material needs for the people who use the services of those organisations, and for the women that I have as individual clients.
I provide the emotional resources, and we also have a counsellor, Kyrin, onboard.
The organisations/people we support are: Te Rōopu O Te Whānau Te Rangimariē O Tamaki Makaūrau; The NZ Prostitute’s Collective; the emergency housing team of social workers for the Salvation Army; a youth justice worker and her clients; social workers from Family Start, Strive, and several other community organisations, and social workers.
In March 2013, I started helping out the refuge co-ordinator at a refuge in South Auckland to get some needs met. In October 2013, after a bereavement, I sought the help of some other women and we have grown from there.
In September 2016, I started doing this job fulltime, and in May 2018, I started getting paid by Aunties who have committed to APs to our “people costs” account. Over 99% of funds raised every year and paid into the general charity account – around $130,000 last year – are spent directly on the women and organisations I walk alongside. (Our overheads are very low. We pay $2500 for our storage unit every year, $200 for our private bag, and I think $80 a year for the website hosting and email addresses).
I couldn’t do any of it, not a bit of it, without the money that people so kindly give, and the Aunties who give me not only stuff, but huge amounts of support, love, and time.
You can see our performance reports, ending March 2018 here.
The Aunties, quite simply, are the reason I get to do what I do. They provide what the women need, when I ask them to. Whether it’s a trip to the art gallery for two little girls, or $20 in the bank account to buy women chocolate, it all counts, and it’s all really important. The Aunties are this extraordinary living organism – there are now around 200 hard core Aunties who are always giving stuff and money. And how do you get to be an Aunty? You give once. That’s it.
We also have a very strong kaupapa of giving with love. Meeting needs with aroha is our business. I am insistent on this. If you aren’t about giving with love, and no judgement, then this isn’t the charity for you. This community of donors has been carefully collated over the last 6 years, and I am a bit demanding, because the women we serve deserve the very best at a really vulnerable time of their lives. When people need what you have, I expect that you give without strings attached. You will be thanked, by me (I cry, quite a lot, because people’s kindness is always overwhelming to me) but you will never likely meet the people you are giving to. We are about our whānau, primarily. Their needs come first. This needs to be remembered at all times.
And the women you are giving to feel your love. I assure you of this. When people are given crap, and not what they need, they feel like crap. And when they feel like crap already, I believe that the poor quality of what’s been given to them compounds their pain, and does them more damage. I’ve seen it. And I’ve also seen -see it every day – the restorative and healing power of things that are given with heart, care, and thoughtfulness.
I am also ably supported by the Board of our Trust. We’ve had a Board for a couple of years – these are all people I have hand picked for the skills and life experience. They are: our chairperson, Moeroa Marsters, our secretary Julie, our treasurer Kat, and board members Phil, Paul, Sabrina, and Jackson (and me). Our patron is Michèle A’Court.
If you think you can provide anything on this list, send me an email and we’ll take it from there. The process for donations works like this: You contact me, I give you the drop off details – we have 2. My mum, and Donna . Donna takes your donations to our storage unit every Sunday.
The storage unit is in Wiri, and is tidied on a very regular basis by one of the women I work with closely . When women need something, they contact me, or their social workers or agencies contact me, I give them the access codes and they go and help themselves.
Once there, they get to pick and choose what they need/want – by and large, this is towels/bedding/clothes for them and their children – and I encourage them to take as much as they possibly can. (Otherwise the unit would overflow and it wouldn’t work for anyone). I no longer meet women at the storage unit and spend time with them – referrals are made to me by the women themselves, or their social workers, for emotional support and I contact them, we arrange to meet, and we sit at their kitchen tables, share kai, and our stories.
This is the main reason that the Aunties stands out in this field – we cater for women’s specific needs, and they get what they need/want when they need/want it. Including lots of love, if that’s what they’re after. We also operate as a whānau and a community of support – turning the traditional model of charity as a relationship between donors and beneficiaries on it’s head. We support each other.
Please note: we only operate in Auckland. If you are in Wellington, one of the Aunties moved down there and is co-ordinating donations for Te Whare Tīaki, Porirua Maroi Women’s Refuge. This is currently only via Twitter. You can find their account @ponekeaunties. In Christchurch, there are the Christchurch Aunties
If you live elsewhere in NZ, please contact your local women’s refuge, and ask them what they need. You can find links and contact details here.
This is a grass roots effort to support quite a large number of people, and to meet their needs. I work very closely with 30 women, who I have deep and abiding relationships with.
I am available for public speaking. I have spoken to schools, Probus groups, retired folk, a Lion’s Club, the NZ Humanists conference – you can see that talk here. , and most recently was a panellist at the Ka Tu Maia Young Women’s Leadership Symposium, and was a guest speaker at the War Room, an event held as part of the Auckland Arts Festival.
I have recently given the keynote speech at the Youth Declaration Conference 2019.
I was a recipient of a Women’s Fund awards 2018, was a nominee for NZ Woman Of The Year Awards, New Zealander of The Year, was category winner and supreme winner of the Women Of Influence Awards 2018 and was a medallist in the Local Hero Of The Year Awards, 2017. I recieved a QSM in the 2019 New Year Honours List.
I am regularly asked to speak to relevant groups, and I really enjoy the chance to get our name out there. If you are a smaller group, I will come and speak to you for a koha to the Aunties. If you are a corporate, or professional body, please email me to negotiate a speaking fee.
This year, I am currently booked to speak at a mentoring conference in Hamilton, the Women In Leadership Summit, Women’s Leadership Symposium (keynote), the PRINZ conference, the itSMFnz conference (keynote), the Manāki Support group (Vodafone) and I will also be working with the Waikato Chiefs.
We thank you for your compassion and care, and your ongoing emotional and practical support of the women that I work with, and love very much.
The Aunties is a registered charitable trust.
Our registration number is: CC54387
You can contact me @whaeapower on Twitter
Or come and check out our Facebook page!