Chi Fan for Charity Organisers, Austen Morris Associates visit Home Sweet Home

On the sunny afternoon of July 22nd, Austen Morris Associates’ Chi Fan for Charity organisers took a trip to visit Home Sweet Home’s Shanghai center. Located in the quiet countryside more than half an hour away from the city center, we spent some time with Gerie D. Pater, the Executive Director, touring the Home Sweet Home facilities to learn more about their mission and approach to helping the community. We found smiling and confident program participants/employees in a happy and family-like environment. We asked Gerie a few questions to explain how they were able to achieve such a warm and welcoming atmosphere:
HSH TeamQ: What is your ultimate message or principle which you are working to instill in the needy that enroll in your program?
A: Our ultimate goal is to teach our participants to learn self-acceptance. Many of them end up in our program because they feel outcasted by not only society, but in many cases their families, who have given up on them because of their disabilities or other issues. We mentor those who come to us to be confident in themselves again, and realize their own value in order to be reintegrated back into society.
Q: Where do the issues with the people that come to you normally originate from?
A: They could be from a variety of reasons. Many feel helpless in their hometowns with no opportunity to recover from their disability/homelessness, they have come to Shanghai to open up possibilities. Others come to Shanghai because their families have either ignored them at home, or encouraged them to do so to begin a better life. We reach out weekly around the city center of Shanghai to these fearful individuals. When we first find them they feel alone and hopeless, so we try to introduce them to our accepting and family environment to begin their rehabilitation.
Q: How have you kept the small business side of your program sustainable for so long?
A: After completing a training period of about a month, we like to give our new employees an opportunity to be exposed to a variety of experiences. We have a flexible kind of rotation, where they can try out a role in our textile manufacturing, project design, or in the sales of our products at local bazaars. If any of the individuals become experienced enough and show great ambition and effort, we place them in leadership roles, organising and executing different projects, as well as helping train new applicants to our program. In this way we not only create a stable system to keep our production running, but we also empower those involved in our program with leadership skills and conviction.
Q: What else does the program entail for the people you work with?
DSCN6323A: Our program takes in those in need for two years. The first month is a training/mentoring period to introduce them to our way of life here, get them started on the road to self acceptance, and prepare them to begin working in our facilities. Once they begin working, we have a normal Monday to Friday work week to handle our different manufacturing products. Besides their workshop duties, we like to provide our residents other avenues to grow, including various workshops and classes. These range from learning English to computer skills classes. We even offer workshops and presentations on basic life skills that will become necessary after completing our program and moving on to begin their journey without the guidance of Home Sweet Home.
Q: Where do you see Home Sweet Home in the future?
A: With Chi Fan for Charity’s help we can definitely more easily cover our monthly costs, which would enable us to take up more opportunities. We would ideally like to be more dependent on the sales of our products; this is why we are excited to become involved in this event. We hope to gain more exposure in order to find more projects for our employees to work on. At the moment we usually have on average 30 people in our program, but with more work opportunities we could definitely take on more applicants. Chi Fan for Charity will be the biggest event Home Sweet Home has been a part of, so we are excited for the new and fruitful experiences ahead!
For more information about Home Sweet Home as well as their online shop, check out their website. To find out about volunteering and other opportunities to get involved, you can contact Gerie at!


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