The awards aim to celebrate all forms of volunteering — from payroll giving, face-to-face and virtual volunteering — and how positive change is possible if each and every person does their most, no matter how big or small the action may seem.

"This has been a tough year, and people are exhausted physically and mentally," says Charlene Lackay, head of CSI, Momentum Metropolitan. "Despite this, and the associated challenges with lockdown bringing a halt to physical volunteering and forcing many into isolation, so many of our people showed up and volunteered their time and resources to make a difference to the communities that need it the most." 

"We reached out beyond the isolation that our circumstance wanted to impose on us. We became connected in kindness. We became stronger together and, as a result, we chose to focus our awards on the concept of 'We. Stronger than Me'," adds Lackay. "It shows the power of connection, and of combining individual efforts to create a powerful wave of positive change in South African communities."

Lackay says that four themes continued to show up this year. "Firstly, volunteers remained connected in kindness in the face of unique obstacles brought about by the pandemic. This meant they had to find and use creative ways to overcome challenges to connect with each other and their communities — another of the key themes."

"Under this topic Momentum Metropolitan saw employees giving invaluable time and resources to support local and relevant causes that empower communities and build resilience," Lackay says. 

"Volunteerism filters through all levels of the company and is driven by the company’s leadership – the third theme. The company’s leaders understand that their voice and actions have immense power, and they use theirs for good. This then feeds into the final theme, which promotes citizenship and serving as an active citizen with the company’s support in providing resources, skills and time to make a difference," adds Lackay. 

Momentum Metropolitan’s culture strives to empower and support employees to offer service in many different ways, including volunteering their time, donating goods and offering their skills to a wide range of non-profit organisations.

The company has also partnered with online platform forgood, ( a matching service between volunteers and organisations in need, to try and make it easier for employees to match with organisation they care about. Employees also contribute through skills-based volunteerism,which gives non-profit organisations (NPOs) access to professional skills and services and through match-funding and payroll-giving directly to their communities.

"To see how our people showed up to volunteer in these ways this year was fantastic, and the quality of the award entries was so high. To hear the stories of some of our nominees, and what volunteering means to them, is phenomenal and shows how seriously they take their commitment to making a real difference," says Lackay.

Keith Naidoo, a finalist in the Business Leader category, adds, "It’s a privilege to be part of serving communities in South Africa. Over Covid-19, Impophomo Rushing Waters embarked on a food relief programme for the poor and destitute."

"What stuck out for me was helping a lady close to her 90s, and just to see the hope and ray of light it brought for her. It shows that the little that we do brings hope to those who have no hope, joy to those who have no joy and a dream to those who have stopped dreaming. That’s what makes South Africa beautiful," Naidoo adds.

"My entry was around the volunteering that I do with detainees between the ages of 12 and 18 at the Juvenile Training Centre as part of Lesotho Correctional Services," says Maliako Koatja, a finalist in the International Volunteer category.

"A highlight for me was when some of the children started calling me ‘mummy’, which shows that there is hope. I believe my volunteering has helped give them a sense of belonging and being loved. It’s also changed the way I interact with people. I want to offer as much love and support as I can to people," Maliako adds. 

Berenice Ogundele, a finalist in the Volunteer Champion category, says, "I believe that investing time and resources into the life of someone has the ability to change the person’s life for good. I always tell people that I could be talking to the next president of the country, so I want to know that I was part of that person’s life and journey."

This year, there were 151 nominations, 46 entries, and 27 finalists – with four international finalists. "Although there was a smaller pool of nominations than in previous years — because of the cessation of physical volunteering, and the move to a fully digital process — the quality of work showcased was incredible,” says Lackay.

The awards have seven categories and an eighth grand prize — the winner of the Lesedi Spirit of Volunteerism Award is selected from those seven winners. Winners are awarded prize-money to take back to the communities and projects they support. Winners in each category receive R15 000 towards their preferred NPO.

Runners-up receive R10 000 and R7 500 towards their preferred NPO — and even who don’t win are awarded R5 000 for the organisation of their choice.

"Lesedi has always been driven by positivity, and this year, that became more important than ever before. What our people have managed to achieve truly shows that change is possible if each of us does our most, and how, when these individual actions come together, we become stronger," Lackay concludes.

The eight Lesedi Awards categories are:
  • Lesedi Exceptional Business Leader
  • Lesedi Volunteer Team
  • Lesedi Most Consistent Payroll Giver
  • Lesedi Most Active on MM Volunteers forgood
  • Lesedi International Volunteer
  • Lesedi Volunteer Champion
  • Lesedi Individual Volunteer
  • Lesedi Spirit of Volunteerism
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