When businessman Patrick Abrahams was asked by a colleague to make himself available as a board member of non-profit organisation Rand Aid Association (RAA), he had little idea that he was about to embark on a 28-year journey.
Then a man of 44, Patrick knew little about Rand Aid. Soon, however, he was immersed in helping the organisation deliver on its mission of caring for vulnerable senior citizens.
“I have seen Rand Aid evolve from an organisation that was basically insolvent, into the enormous, well-run entity that it is today,” says Patrick.
Founded in 1903, Rand Aid now manages four retirement villages, two frail care centres, a treatment centre for people with substance abuse problems and a home for the deaf.
Rand Aid has a strong welfare focus and provides subsidised accommodation, care or treatment to over 500 people on a daily basis at its Thembalami Care Centre, Tarentaal Village and Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre.
Support services include Cookchill, the catering arm that prepares 35 500 meals a month; the stores; central workshops; and the laundry.
“I am proud of the small part I played in this phenomenal journey,” says Patrick, adding that all the milestones the organisation has reached is thanks to its strong board and management team, as well as its partnerships with its residents.
After joining the Rand Aid board of management in 1988, Patrick was made honorary life president in 2011, at the NPO’s 106th annual general meeting. He was chairman of the board for 13 years, from December 1998 until July 2011, when he handed over the reins to John Robinson.
On Wednesday, August 24, Patrick attended his last RAA board meeting and enjoyed a farewell with his peers afterwards. On September 7, he and his wife will leave to start a new chapter of their life in England, which is now home to the Abrahams’ daughter and her family.
He says he considers his greatest contribution to RAA the ‘capturing from SARS’ of current CEO Rae Brown. “Rae has done a remarkable job. Without his input and huge ability, much of what has been achieved would not have happened.
“I have gained much gratification and satisfaction from being able to assist people who through no fault of their own are in a less fortunate position. It has been a wonderful experience. There has been lots of stress and many worrying times, but also a great many happy times. I do not regret a minute of it.”
Unfortunately, says Patrick, the culture of active citizenship is not as strong as it once was. “People want to be rewarded for their time and effort,” he says.
The Bryanston resident has been involved in the financial arena all of his life, from commercial banking to discount houses, merchant banking, private equity and finally as director of Brait Merchant Bank. Born in Kimberley, Patrick was raised in Zimbabwe and settled in Johannesburg in 1979.
Semi-retired, he still has a number of business interests.
Since first joining the RAA Board, Patrick has seen, and participated in, the following milestones in the development of Rand Aid:
1988 – Completion of the first 192 apartments at Tarentaal Village.
1989 – Installation of the centralised cooking system Cookchill.
1989 – Commencement of the construction of Phase 1 of Elphin Lodge.
1990 – Construction of Phase 1 of the Ron Smith Care Centre.
1991 to 1993 – Construction of phases 2 to 4 of Elphin Lodge.
1994 – Completion of the extensions of the Ron Smith Care Centre and Tarentaal Village Community Hall.
1995 – Closure of Bramley Complex.
1996 – Completion of Phase 2 of Tarentaal Village and the relocation of the Head Office and laundry.
2001 – Opening of the Ibis Frail Care facility at Wedge Gardens.
2001 to 2003 – Construction of Thornhill Manor.
2004 – Acquisition of AFM land at Lyndhurst.
2006 to 2007 – Demolition of Wedge Gardens, workshops, Cookchill, Ibis and boiler plant and construction of Inyoni Creek Phase 1; new Wedge Gardens, workshops, laundry and Cookchill.
2006 – Acquisition of the Italian Old Age Home in Lombardy East, which now houses Thembalami Care Centre.
2007 – Move of Ibis and Reid to Thembalami; Wedge Gardens, workshops, Cookchill and laundry to their new premises.
2007 to 2008 – Completion of Inyoni Creek.
2010 – Construction of the security control room.
2011– Appointment of residents to the board; new constitutions structured; RAA Residents Committee Partnership formed; full occupation of Inyoni Creek.
2012 – Inyoni Creek gets individual electricity meters; Thornhill Manor Community Centre, offices and library are built; Thembalami renovations are ongoing; generators acquired for Inyoni Creek and Ron Smith Care Centre; security upgrades – on point.
2013 – Elphino’s coffee shop is established at Elphin Lodge; the establishment of the in-house Emergency Call Centre; renovation of the lifts at Thembalami; new automatic borehole pumping system at Head Office which also services Inyoni Creek and Tarentaal.
2014 – Tarentaal chapel rebuilt, Occupational Therapy and Day Care Centre established at the Ron Smith Care Centre; three wings of the Ron Smith Care Centre are upgraded, as well as lounges, dining rooms, bathrooms, passages, nursing stations and kitchens; individual electricity meters installed at Thornhill Manor; extension of borehole reticulation system.
2015 – Refurbishment/renovations at Tarentaal Village, volleyball court established at Wedge Gardens.
2016 – Merger with Max Ordman Deaf Association; new lounge and refurbished wings at Thembalami; new security code house/booms at Thembalami and the rebuilding of the care centre’s lapa.