Alabaster Jar a resource for all

LAUREN O’CONNOR-MAY

Nestled between a supermarket and a nightclub in Victoria Road, Plumstead, is a place of fresh starts. It is a place where one person’s junk becomes another person’s treasure and where those wishing to take the first step on a new career path can get a place to start. It is the Alabaster Jar.

The thrift shop and skills development centre, run by husband and wife Rod and Ray Weimann, was born out of Mr Weimann’s passion for education.

“I’ve been working in schools and education for many years. Education is one of the growth points for the economy and for society. It is one of the bedrocks of the community life.”

Mr Weimann started the skills development section of The Alabaster Jar in Langa, at St Francis Adult Education Centre, which helped students to redo their matric.

“It was occupationally directed,” Mr Weimann said of St Francis, explaining that the school was geared towards teaching students a trade skill, such as plumbing, baking or sewing, over and above their regular subjects. Mr Weimann’s NPO, the South African Alliance for Skills Development in Education, assisted in this regard.

St Francis, however, moved to a new, smaller location, and there was no longer room for the Weimanns’ courses. Not wanting to give up on the work they were doing, they looked for a new home for it, and last year they found one at 125 Victoria Road.

“We’ve been very well-received here,” said Ms Weimann.

Mr Weimann said: “We’re just excited to see the response we got from the community.”

While working from the school’s site, though, the Weimann’s never needed to worry about overhead costs, but this changed once they ventured out on their own, so they attached a charity shop to the enterprise.

“We get lots of donations. We’ve been very blessed.”

The money from the charity shop sales is used to pay the salaries of the shop’s staffers – a manager and a beanie maker – as well as the rent and municipal bills.

Students who can’t pay the full fee for training are supplement- ed from the shop’s funding too. The money brought in from training is used to pay the teachers who are all professionals in their fields.

Ms Weimann says it’s part of the NPO’s core belief that some payment is required for the courses, so that there is commitment on the part of the student.

“It’s about opportunities,” she says, adding that The Alabaster Jar is always looking for ways to connect. Even the shop’s broken toilet was an opportunity for plumbing students to practise new skills, she said.

The Alabaster Jar wants to connect more with its surrounding communities, through sewing or knitting groups. Ms Weimann said the shop would provide wool and social knitting space and the goods made would then be sold in the shop. She also hopes the many wedding dresses and ball gowns donated to the shop can be turned into a small business opportunity. “Maybe someone could hire them out,” she said.

To donate or for more information contact the charity shop on 081 271 3993.