Young at heart retiree still making a difference
From a Mdantsane woman with a start-up business to a Stoneydrift creche in need and a feeding scheme in Pefferville, East London retiree, Klaus Rodemann, ensures that no-one is left behind.
Starting his project “It's All About Image” in 2017, the German-born 78-year-old and his wife, Jenny, now spend their days helping needy organisations, NPOs and individuals in any way they can.
For some, one particular cause is the force that drives them to make a difference, but for Rodemann it was hearing the unemployment statistics and being told he was old that did the trick.
“I was listening to our president's speech on the radio a few years ago and he was talking about the problem of unemployment among black youths in the country and it made me think,” said Rodemann.
“So I set up 'It's All About Image' to help people write their CVs, apply for jobs and receive donations to start or improve their own businesses. It's all about helping people feel empowered by improving the image they have of themselves and their businesses or projects.”
By donating equipment and essential items, Rodemann has helped small start-ups — from a mobile pet groomer in Mdantsane to a man running a laundry service in Amalinda and more — improve their businesses.
But his good deeds do not end there. After discovering various NPOs and organisations needing assistance via Facebook pleas and word of mouth, Rodemann and his wife took to collecting and donating items for those in need.
The couple also started visiting the Frere Hospital maternity ward every month where they donate packs that include nappies, clothes and toiletries collected from family and friends, to some of the new mothers in need.
And what started out as small and simple acts of kindness to empower others has turned into Rodemann's full time passion.
“I'm retired now and I don't want to sit at home and do nothing. When people tell me I'm old it just keeps me going — I don't want people to think of me as old. I always say, it doesn't take much to do that little bit extra for someone else,” said Rodemann, whose project now supports six different NPOs — some of which are past Local Hero finalists — around the city.
"Starting capital was obtained by selling original oil paintings. My friend's daughter who is an award-winning painter donated seven origin oil paintings to be used as fund raisers.
"Three paintings were sold and brought in R1,800 and plus we had garage sales. We started with just R2,600," said Rodemann.
From Global Mercy Mission founders — and 2011 Local Hero finalists and 2019 KFC Heroes Hero winners — Rachel and Joshua Minter to 2019 local hero finalist, Sella Doyle's feeding scheme, Rodemann and his wife help the town's 'heroes' empower others.
Sherylene Minter, principal of the Global Mercy Missions creche founded by Rachel and Joshua Minter in Stoneydrift said: “We're so blessed to have Klaus and his wife in our lives. They have the most generous hearts. Klaus found out about us last year and rocked up at our gate in his little silver Corsa. He hasn't left us since.”
Minter said Rodemann had helped in many small and big ways — from regularly donating items such as nappies, toys, ice-lollies and more, to connecting corporate sponsors with the creche.
“Klaus is like the middleman and he knows exactly who to talk to and who to connect us with so that we can get the support and finances that we need. Because of him we now have a fixed and proper fence around the school, we have sand in the sandpit and the illegal dumping site on our doorstep has been bulldozed away,” said Minter.
“When I found out he did all these other little things for other organisations and people in our community I was blown away.”