Local Heroes 2023: Good Samaritan Godfrey finds purpose in helping others

Poor Westbank residents who struggle to put food on their tables daily have some relief for three days in a week, thanks to a Good Samaritan who opened a soup kitchen in the community.

Not only does Jackie Godfrey feed up to 300 strangers and neighbours  every Monday, Wednesday and Friday but she clothes and tends to their other essential needs whenever she can.

Godfrey suffered a stroke that left her wondering what her life’s purpose was four years ago. The answer to her question changed not only her life but those of her impoverished community.

Formerly a Willow Park resident and a local dairy manager, Godfrey’s illness forced her to move back into her mother’s house in West Bank to recover.

However, the move marked the beginning of a new path for her, and a positive difference to West Bank residents who struggle to put food on the table.

Once she regained ability in her body, Godfrey found her purpose in charity work.

She officially registered her non-profit organisation, Because I Can, in May last year.

She also runs a charity shop where people can buy clothing items for as little as R5, and uses the money to fund her feeding project.

However, she gives away most of the clothes for free.

Moreover, Godfrey takes it upon herself to source and provide even furniture to those in need.

People constantly knock on her door for a meal, toiletries, blankets and other daily needs.

“The project started off small and despite challenges I do my best to provide for people’s daily needs. I also do outreaches in town,” Godfrey said.

“My motto is that hunger has no colour and no time, so sometimes I get people knocking at 10pm and I do what I can to help.”

My motto is that hunger has no colour and no time, so sometimes I get people knocking at 10pm and I do what I can to help.

She is supported by businesses, individuals and other charity organisations.

“There are also some children in school that I assist with school needs like books and fees.”I have three at the moment. I just pray and God sends the right donors along,” she said.

One of Godfrey’s assistants, Lindi Rossouw, said doing charity worked helped change her own life too.

“When I first came here, I was someone who was closed in, and I struggled to speak to other people.

“But now that I’m here with Aunty Jackie, I’ve come out of that box. I’ve learnt how to help others and open my heart to people,” Rossouw said.

Godfrey hopes to grow the organisation, and be able to cook and feed the community daily.

“West Bank is a very poor community. A lot of families just rent rooms.

“You find that if the man of the family works, he only earns enough to pay for the room, and struggles to put food on the table.

“I’d just like to be able to do more. Seeing some of the places people live in is heartbreaking,” she said.

She said she would use the Local Heroes prize money to grow the organisation and feed people daily instead of just three days per week.