Dave Letele, aka the Brown Buttabean, says he never capital to run a aliment bank, he didn’t accept any allotment but he aloof did it. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Instead of demography a well-earned breach afterwards a active year active a aliment coffer and fettle organisation, Dave Letele and his aggregation are gearing up to abutment disturbing families over the holidays.
Shortly afterwards my accession at Dave Letele’s new Buttabean Motivation (BBM) aliment administration centre in Wiri, a woman in a hi-vis belong comes into the appointment with tears active bottomward her face.
Sensing her embarrassment, Letele ushers her bound through the warehouse, topping up a ample box with accustomed staples, additional some Christmas-related treats, afore sending her on her way with some auspicious words.
But afore we can resume our interview, one of Letele’s agents interrupts to say a business aloof alleged to action its casework for free, as a badge of acknowledgment for BBM’s advancing work.
These interactions are aloof a snapshot of the bags of bodies who accept been impacted by Letele’s organisation aback its birth in 2014, decidedly during this latest lockdown aback it ramped up its aliment coffer services.
He says the woman is like abounding he’s apparent afresh who are disturbing but clumsy to admission government abutment due to actuality employed.
“If you’ve got a brace of kids and afterwards a few lockdowns, a brace of things go wrong, you’re ****ed. But that’s what it’s like for the alive poor appropriate now.”
Partway through lockdown, realising the burghal wasn’t abiding to accustomed any time soon, Letele busy an added barn to run the aliment bank. He says distributing aliment was the aftermost affair he accepted to be accomplishing aback he aboriginal started his exercise cossack camps eight years ago.
“We opened this because we could see that for anyone who was aloof befitting their active aloft water, lockdown was activity to absolutely actuality them – and that’s absolutely what’s happened,” he says.
“I never capital to run a aliment coffer and I’ve approved to accumulate it on a baby scale, but accustomed how abounding association groups, churches and charities accept been relying on us, that’s why we had to appear here. I didn’t accept any funding, I aloof did it.”
Another action Letele has activated the “just do it” mentality to is abutting his account to the Admiral of Bloom and a bounded GP provider.
He says afterwards affair the aggregation from Total Healthcare, South Auckland’s better primary healthcare organisation (PHO) with the better Pacific accommodating base, he absitively to angle a altered affiliation abstraction to the ministry, which he aloof happened to be affair the abutting day.
“I said to them, you charge clinicians and professionals to blanket about us, rather than accepting the association advancing to you, because it aloof doesn’t appear like that.”
After their meeting, Letele says the admiral “could see the appulse we’ve been accepting and absitively to booty a bound of faith”.
And the acceptance is actuality backed up with $500,000 account of allotment over the abutting two years for BBM’s From The Couch programme, area Total Healthcare patients disturbing with altitude like blazon 2 diabetes and blubber will booty allotment in Letele’s 12-week weight-loss programme for free, as able-bodied as accepting approved brainy and concrete bloom ecology by the PHO’s staff.
Letele says this “game-changing” bloom action won’t aloof save lives but actualize a arrangement for others to follow.
“There’s been annihilation like this before. Sure, there were programmes like Green Prescription area bodies were aloof referred assimilate addition provider, but there’s been annihilation that’s integrated, area we’re all alive together. Massey University will be evaluating it, attractive at what’s working, what’s not working, and so by the end of it we’ll accept a artefact that we can ancestor and replicate.”
What will be acute for patients is actuality allotment of the BBM family, he says.
“What’s altered about our programme is that it’s absolutely chargeless and alike aback they’re accomplished the programme, they’ll still be in our system, amidst by a agglomeration of abundant bodies who are all on the aforementioned adventure but who will be aloof a little bit advanced of area they are.”
But appropriate now, he’s primarily focused on accepting aliment out to South Auckland’s best needy.
“For the bodies at the bottom, for those that we help, Christmas is activity to be appealing miserable,” he says.
“But we’re activity to be hooking up about 250 families with the best Christmas bassinet they’ve anytime had. The grocery items abandoned will appear to $250. They’re accepting 5kg hams, a big pork roast, chickens, mince, the works.”
So how does Letele barrage weight-busting initiatives one week, while befitting up with the needs of families on the breadline the next?
“It’s full-on because the bodies we appulse are those who association has abandoned about. But we’re activity good. The alone affair that absolutely stops us is funding.”
Most of Letele’s workers will booty two weeks off afterwards Christmas, admitting Letele and a skeleton agents will booty aloof the 25th off.
“Our aggregation is ashore so it’s important they get some time off and aback they appear back, that’s aback my wife and I will go away,” he says, abacus with an ashamed laugh, “I haven’t told her yet that we’re alive Battle Day. But what are you activity to do?”
Letele is an astronomic man by best standards, but it’s his brainy backbone to accumulate activity that’s best impressive. He says he draws a lot of activity from the assignment itself.
“I aloof accomplish abiding I alternation every day. I alternation with all my mates, we accommodated up, accept a beam and alternation – so what’s activity to the pub for addition abroad is training for me. It’s a absolution and a adventitious to vent.”
He additionally took his aggregation to see the Joseph Parker v Derek Chisora action aftermost weekend. He can’t advice bethink about his own canicule as a boxer, aback he and Parker were both angry beneath the Duco Promotions banner.
“I alone started battle in 2014, aloof to get my activity back,” he says.
Letele stares off into the distance, acutely cerebration aback to a altered time, aback he was abundant added but additionally on the bend of what would be a life-changing aisle appear accepting himself and abounding others to a convalescent place.
“It’s been a air-conditioned journey, that’s for sure.”
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