Offering unconditional care

LOOKING after and caring for 81 SASSA pensioners from the Amanzimtoti area is both an honour and a privilege for Joanne Mocke Herbst (46), the director of the Elders Voice KZN.

Herbst has been with the Elders Voice since their inception and is extremely hands-on and directly involved in the day-to-day running of the organisation.

Speaking on this, Herbst said: “I started the non-profit company after learning about a poorly-run old age home in our area, myself and Eureka Olivier from Bobbi Bear uncovered many irregularities and mismanagement which resulted in the elderly not being taken proper care of and being ill-treated, we had to do something.”

Initially in the hardware and construction industry for 13 years, Herbst left that all behind to focus on the elderly in the community.

“We currently have 10 shared living homes in Amanzimtoti for SASSA pensioners; we have a vintage shop in Warner Beach which helps us pay utility bills etc. Next on our mission of sustainability we are looking for a premises to open a little coffee shop where the elderly can sell there baked goods, get together, start knitting clubs with members of the community and a book club all under one roof,” said Herbst.

Hoping that the community will get more involved with the organisation, Herbst said: “Please get involved, please visit our homes, get to know our oldies, of the 81 elderly in these shared living homes only 27 get regular visitors from family or friends, the others get no visitors at all. We get no external funding at all and are totally dependent on community involvement to make a difference. We cannot do it alone.”

Prior to Elders Voice, Herbst studied public relations, and then she went on to further study architectural specification, which led her to her 13-year career in the hardware and construction industry. Herbst relocated to KwaZulu-Natal in 2012.

She is a wife and mother to her close-knit family, who she spends as much time with as possible. In addition to that, Herbst is an avid scuba diver and a proud biker — and is also the first lady of the motorcycle club known as Ripple Effect.

This Women’s Day, Herbst hopes that women remember that small acts of kindness can make a difference in other people’s lives more than can be imagined. “You are the difference; it is only through your actions that change can happen, don’t wait for someone else to do it.

“I gave up a career, I gave up money to do what I am passionate about, although at times it is difficult, I would not trade it for anything in the world, my life is complete, I am blessed as I share my life with 81 imperfectly perfect elderly, and it is an honour and a privilege to share their lives with them in their golden years,” concluded Herbst.