Drum roll please!
The first ever recipient of the CALI Award goes to Jan Williams, owner of Curves Women’s Gym in Melbourne, Australia. Jan regularly rallies the 250 members of her gym to collect money and goods for different causes, both locally and overseas.
At any given time, Jan has at least one charity project on the go, what a champ! We wanted to discover what inspires her to action so we asked her all about her philanthropic life.
Q: Jan, why are you so motivated to make a difference?
Jan: At my gym, we’re all about helping each other reach our fitness goals for overall health and wellness. It’s a natural progression that we also care about the health of others.
Raising money for projects promotes a really positive energy for the members and they feel more connected to the community. It also makes me sleep a little better at night. I know I’m not just talking about problems in the world; I’m actually doing something to help.
Q: Tell us more about the Chibobo Orphanage in Zambia
Jan: The Chibobo School and Orphanage looks after 512 young children in very basic conditions. Situated on a dirt track and 30kms from the closest town, Chibobo has limited medical services and is completely reliant on international assistance.Two of our members travelled to Chibobo to meet the children and see how fundraising is helping the orphanage become self-sufficient. One of the main goals is to build a cheaper source of electricity so the orphanage can accommodate more children.
Q: And your other projects?
Jan: We regularly hold food drives for CareWorks in Sunbury. This area is home to many low-income families who sometimes find themselves in financial crisis. Among other services, CareWorks provides these families with enough food to make meals for 48 hours. The members simply pick up a few extra items in their weekly shopping and we often collect over $1000 worth of groceries at a time.
Breast cancer research is a cause close to our hearts as several members have been diagnosed with breast cancer over the years. This is our way of letting them know they are supported in every way.
Q: What is the difference between those who talk and those who do?
Jan: I believe its optimism. With so many causes in desperate need of help, it’s easy to just throw your hands in the air and say, ‘It’s all too hard’. Humanitarians believe that every little bit helps. Individually, we only make small dents in big problems. En masse, we make a significant difference to the lives of others.
Q: Do you feel rewarded for your efforts?
Jan: Many times over. It’s a bit of a cliche, but seeing how some people struggle with day-to-day living reminds me how lucky I am. I am privileged to be in a position to help.