Personal experience motivates awardees

Global, 01 May 2014

Two years ago, Ryane Brunsdon’s daughter started primary school in Cape Town. Together with the excitement stemming from this milestone came a new understanding of the costs: new school uniform, new school bag, and all the stationery required for the first day.

“That’s when I realised how expensive schooling really is,” said Ryane. “I started costing all the stationery and it varied from around R250 ($A25) to around R625 ($A62). It doesn’t seem a lot but it becomes quite a bit of money to have in January just after Christmas.”

It brought to Ryane’s attention the great need for school basics across the community. The work he did to establish the ‘Pencil Bag Initiative’ - distributing pencil bags containing pencils, sharpener, glue, ruler and round nose scissors to close to 300 Grade 1 students across four different schools - prompted his win as the Volunteer of the Year in Macquarie’s 2014 Staff in the Community Awards.

Personal experience also motivated the winner of the Awards’ Pro Bono category, Seeta Haria. As a child, the London-based Macquarie staff member benefited from the services of Shishukunj, a charity focused on developing the mental, physical, cultural and spiritual needs of children between 5 and 18 from across the community.

Seeta has volunteered with Shishukunj since 2009, regularly attending the weekly Sunday games, artistic performances and language classes. She joined the executive committee in 2011 to help manage larger events for the children, as well as help run the three Shishukunj centres and manage the voluntary workforce. In 2012 she also took on a more strategic role, spending the next two years streamlining the charity’s administrative processes and improving its membership and events system.

“I wanted to give back to the community and help move the charity forward at the same time,” Seeta said. “It’s been a fantastic opportunity and in addition to the satisfaction it gave me, the work I have done has allowed me to develop my own skills in technology, strategy and communication.”

The work done by Macquarie’s 2014 Fundraiser of the Year, David Canter from New York, stems from his family tradition of helping others, with his parents and grandparents active in community affairs since his childhood.

“Once I began my career in banking, it was that personal history, combined with volunteerism since my youth, which led me to seek partnerships between my corporate life and my charitable interests,” David said.

David has been on the Board of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) since 2007, with the last two as the Board Co-Chair. SAGE is the United State’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender older people.

He served as co-chair in both 2012 and 2013 and has worked on a range of fundraising initiatives, generating more than $600,000 to support SAGE as well as securing significant in-kind consulting work. He did this by leveraging both personal networks and corporate funding.

The charities Ryane, Seeta and David volunteer for have each been awarded $A10,000 as part of Macquarie’s annual Staff in the Community Awards, in recognition of their contribution.


Image caption: Seeta Haria, from Macquarie’s Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities business in London, with Shishukunj students.