Bernadette-sml@2x By Bernadette Soares, Shine Charitable Trust Founder

Let your light Shine is a registered charity. The vision to set up a charity has been on my heart for a long time, ever since I started my business over 13 years ago. I wanted to do something through my business and channel some of the resources and goodwill of clients and business contacts to the wider community. I have always had a heart for Business and alleviation of poverty through innovative business strategies and practices and believe this is possible at a micro and macro level. I also have a passion to work with women who have not had some of the opportunities in life that I have had and who are caught up in the cycle of loss of self esteem, domestic violence, poverty or lack of education.

While New Zealand is very well off and the New Zealand economy is relatively financially stable as compared to so many countries in the world yet an unprecedented level of poverty and financial disempowerment is occurring and it is getting more and more pronounced with each passing year.

This is particularly obvious in the small towns many of them once thriving communities but now abandoned by big business who have moved elsewhere for greener pastures. Here in the small communities social problems have arisen mainly though the lack of financial resources and lack of education which has hampered their ability to make decisions to live a productive and happy life.

Shine Charitable Trust came into being through being invited to the community and specifically the Kawerau Community Church pastored by Matai and Cissie Bennett who have tirelessly worked for the Community and have built a church of changed lives striving to love and share God’s goodness with each other. Shine Kawerau is a project that has been birthed through the love and acceptance of the people that I ministered to at my first meeting and subsequent meeting at Kawerau Community Church. Their simplicity, loving acceptance and openness to hearing and sharing with me so inspired me that I came back unable to get the town and its people off my mind.

I was so encouraged by the feedback from the people and through Matai and Cissie and I began to think that if one weekend of talks filled with hope and encouragement could get people moving forward and begin a change in some lives then imagine what could be achieved if I gathered together a group of friends and supporters and we committed 12 months just one weekend each month to going down there to meet the spiritual, physical, educational and emotional needs of the people.

We plan to engage government, the council, spiritual leaders, the community, local iwis and businesses to work together to set a plan to change the community and lives of the people there so that they can enjoy this beautiful country and the benefits of living in a democracy which some of us in big cities take for granted.

We hope to achieve big things with others through Gods Grace, hard work, commitment with hearts full of love.