It’s hard to believe that we are already preparing for our Annual General Meeting in January 2013 and, as we do so, reflecting on our service operation during 2012. Where has the year disappeared to?
Although we remain in the midst of recession and unrest, as some amongst us are forced to fight for a living wage and others for their struggling and sometimes failing businesses, we have been conscious of the amazing provision that Choices has experienced during the last 12months. We ended 2011 with great concern over our lack of financial reserves and yet for the whole of this year our bank balance has remained encouraging and we have been able to pay salaries and meet all of our commitments to the wider community that we exist to serve.
During 2012 we have enlarged our funding base as we remain committed to achieving long term sustainability. Part of that strategy has involved us holding a small amount of funds in reserve. For the first time this year we have taken steps towards that goal and invested a small amount that will earn some interest income for us. We have continued to deliver much needed services to the Helderberg Basin.
At the end of 2011 we said farewell to Lydia Africa who had served us as an outstanding Unit Manager at Choices House for a number of years. On 1 February 2012, we re-opened the unit having appointed Charmaine Etson to the post. Charmaine was actually our first unit manager and after 7 years away from Choices (running a Youth training project), she has returned to take up the post once again.
During 2012 our staff counselled 870 women, 24 women chose to release their babies for adoption and 20 women made use of Choices residential unit. We estimate that 427 of the women counselled at Choices chose to keep their babies and we join them in celebrating that decision. We continue to provide an exciting menu of services as a result of the valued support we enjoy from local businesses, individual donors and fund raising events. Thank you!
During 2012 we hosted a successful Guitar Legends evening, participated once again in the Somerset Mall Charity book sale, and held a Spring Tea event. We continue to run our Nearly New shop at the centre, which provides a regular income and through which we have gifted over 79 new baby packs to expectant and new moms during the year. We applaud the Choices team and all those friends of Choices who took part by serving, attending events, supplying and buying books or donating funds.
Currently we have a team of 41 staff and volunteers. A few of those are salaried staff but the majority are volunteers. We continue to work into local schools delivering a life-skills training programme and to run Skills Development training courses. We offer free supportive counselling and services in the areas of HIV, pre and post abortion and parenting and adoption facilitation.
We remain the only such facility in the Helderberg basin and, as a result, we carry out all of the pre-abortion counselling for Helderberg Hospital (previously known as Hottentots Holland hospital).
Our residential unit continues to accommodate up to 7 women at a time. During their stay with us, residents are educated in childbirth, sexual health and lifestyle and encouraged to access our skills training services.
As we return from the annual holiday period and make plans for 2013, I want to thank our amazing donors once again, our wonderful team of staff and volunteers and the local churches, particularly Helderberg Christian Church, under whose governance Choices enjoys consistent and generous support. All of whom enable us to successfully provide an essential service to our local communities.
We look forward to many more years of service together.
NPO Registration No. 033-200