July is the month of giving

CN&CO’s Blake Dyason is well known for his big heart and community activism. He is always willing to roll up his sleeves and put in the hard graft to give back to the environment and people in need. His two main projects are Love our Trails, which cleans up trails for runners and educates South African on the evils of litter, and the Malachi Place of Safety, a halfway house for abused and abandoned children.

July, being Mandela Month, is always busy for Blake, being the guy who most people call when they want to know where their 67 minutes are most needed. This year has been no different.

“It’s been overwhelming with emails, messages and calls from everyone who wants to give back,” he says.

This July was extra-special for Blake as little dream has finally come true at Malachi.

“We have had a tough few months with Kai, an adorable two-year-old boy who spends most of his time in hospital,” explains Blake. “He starts chemo soon, and the stress of looking after him and the rest of the kids has been daunting. But the guys at Leppard Underwriting have been guardian angels, sponsoring the salaries of carers to assist, and IP Global Property Investment partners are rebuilding the Wendy house so Bella, the carer, can stay on the property.”

All this activity in July each year leaves a person wondering why only once a year. There are plenty of good causes that South Africans can get involved in, and not just during Mandela Month.

“I think the reason people give so much in July is a combination of honouring a great leader, some good marketing and accessibility,” says Blake “Sixty-seven minutes a year is really not a lot of time. Helping others should be something that becomes part of our everyday lives. Giving back and making a difference needn’t cost money; sometimes it’s as simple as taking time to listen to someone’s story.”

Blake recently stopped at the Ladles of Love, a volunteer soup kitchen in the Cape Town CBD. Instead of handing out food he sat and chatted to the people who had come in for a meal.

“These are people we often don’t even acknowledge,” he says. “I learnt so much that evening, not only about people’s lives, but also about humanity. I left hoping that our paths would cross again.”

If you’re keen to make giving back a part of you day to day life, sign up to Brownie-Points to keep up to date with volunteer opportunities in your area.

“Brownie-Points literally allows you to earn points for your time,” says Blake. “So the more of your time you give, the more points you get. You can cash in your points through loads of rewards partners, including Checkers, takealot, Makro, iTunes, Mr Price and – my favourite!! – EasyEquities.

“We are all privileged; our health is the greatest privilege of all. Let’s do our bit for the world around us.”