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Chairs for charity

Mary Lebotschy, who retired as the CEO of Nelspruit Hospice at the end of April, has been involved with the organisation since its establishment in 2005.

Years ago, she was part of a fundraising event, and the people who were involved wanted to give the money raised to a hospice.

Only then did they realise that Mbombela didn’t have a local hospice that would provide palliative care to those suffering from life-threatening diseases.

Her friends and other charity workers planted a seed, saying it would be the perfect project for her. She agreed on one condition: that everyone would support Nelspruit Hospice and join hands with her.

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In 2006 this community service organisation was born, and since then it has helped to provide palliative care to more than 750 people suffering from life-threatening diseases.

“The general public often makes the mistake that hospice only cares for people diagnosed with cancer.

“On average, about 60% of our patients have cancer and the other 40% have other diseases, ranging from HIV to TB, Parkinson’s, or serious heart, kidney and liver conditions.

“We take them all on as patients and we provide them with palliative care. We help to make them as comfortable as possible so they may have the highest quality of life until they pass on.

“We have a team of specialists helping us when a patient needs special services. They include a dietician, physiotherapist and social workers.

“We do psychological counselling to prepare the families for what lies ahead and to help them deal with the situation they are in,” says Mary.

Nelspruit Hospice receives no state funds and has to raise all the money itself to support the work it does. Mary worked voluntarily as the CEO and was only reimbursed for some of her petrol and cellphone usage.

There are three full-time employees, namely professional nurse, Marinda Olckers; assistant nurse, Martie Laas and administrator/fundraiser, Elmarie du Toit.

The organisation has to obtain all the money for these salaries as well as its expenses, and a project like Chair-A-Tee is just one of these fundraising events held throughout the year.

Elmarie says the idea came into being two or three years ago. “The Chicken Challenge in White River, that gives people the chance to decorate a recycled cardboard chicken in any way they like, just to be auctioned off, is a wonderful annual event.

“We decided to piggyback on the idea, but playing around with the word charity, we decided that the decoration of chairs might be a great project.

“We were not very sure which way to go, so it was put on the back-burner, but this year we decided to grab the opportunity, and everybody who hears about the initiative is very excited about it!” she says.

Last month Landi Bezuidenhout took over as CEO. For Mary, the years she worked in this position were extremely rewarding.

“My parents were great volunteers in their community and they brought us up to be the same. I have always been involved in some sort of charity work.

“I am really looking forward to seeing how this project will play out. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has helped us along the way.

“Bundu Poles is donating the wood for the chairs, Brett Stephens is building them, Extreme Signs is donating the banners.

“The wonderful thing about Chair-A-Tee is not only will you, your children, your company or your elders get the opportunity to be creative and throw some paint around, but at the same time you will make a difference in people’s lives, especially those who benefit from the work our organisation does. That surely is a win-win situation for everyone!”

What is Chair-A-Tee?

For an entrance fee of R100 per chair, you get a “raw” chair that still needs some finishing. There are no restrictions on the way that you may decorate it.

In the following few months, various workshops will be held at Mica Nelspruit, Bateleur Estate and the Crafters Market at i’langa Mall in Mbombela to help anyone interested in taking part with some decorating ideas.

All the entries must be returned to Nelspruit Hospice before August 6. The prize-giving and auction will be held on September 6 at i’langa Mall.

People taking part in the fundraising event will have the opportunity to buy back their own chairs, if they are not sold at the auction.

Those not sold will remain the property of the organisation and will be given to a charity of its choice.

Where do I get the chair/s?

The undecorated chairs will be available at Nelspruit Hospice, 84 Ferreira Street and at i’langa Mall’s centre management offices.

Get in touch
Elmarie du Toit on 079-070-2166 or



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