Rebecca of ‘Just Zilch’ took a simple idea and turned it into a means of feeding 150 to 200 hungry New Zealanders nearly every day. Rebecca has been applauded by many community leaders and has appeared as a TVNZ ‘Good Sort’. Over a four year period, Rebecca’s registered charity has grown and consolidated its community service… but the real value is found in the hope it brings to those it serves, and also in how it enables others to give back in return.
When we visited Just Zilch, a lady drove up in a car loaded with groceries. They were a free gift to help feed others in the community. When we asked if we could talk with her about her generosity, she just said, “No thanks, I value my privacy”. We completely respect that and were blown away by how, in her own way, she was being a Hope Hero to others. By the way - this is just one of two trolley loads of groceries she delivered on that day.
Meet Urla (on the left) and Clarissa (on the right – nicknamed ‘Tiggy’). They’re both year 10 pupils at St Peter’s College. Clarissa was the first to volunteer at Just Zilch (a year and a half ago), partly because of her Duke of Edinburgh Award efforts but mainly because Just Zilch had greatly helped her Grandma (see her story also). Clarissa recruited Urla, who said, “It’s so much fun to be able to help people like this”. READ MORE
Darren has been volunteering at Just Zilch for 10 months. He saw it as “A chance to help where I can, because I really want to.” He loves the atmosphere in the place, describing it as “non-threatening.” When asked about Rebecca he noted that “She’s put everything on the line”. In speaking about the volunteers - "We’re all here because we want to be here... but we can’t do it without Rebecca - she has the vision.”
Our first words to Hayden were “Love your hat!” He went on to share about how he is treated with respect at Just Zilch... and that the people were happy and encouraging. He felt that the social connection he had with people (both customers and volunteers) was as important as getting food. And that the generosity shown here made him feel like being more generous to others.
When we introduced ourselves we asked for a first name. When we were told ‘Hope’, we had an instant ‘wow’ moment. And when Hope told us her middle name (translated from her native South African) means ‘waiting for something beautiful’... there was a double ‘wow’ moment.
Even though Hope had only been in the area for a month, she had been volunteering at Just Zilch for two weeks when we spoke with her. She loved the open, respectful way that customers were treated. And that serving the community in this way has made her far more open to helping others.
We managed to catch Jo and Vienna before they left with a couple of food bags. Vienna (the one in the pram) was a little shy, but Jo shared how she had come through some huge health challenges, during which Just Zilch had definitely filled an important need in their family. READ MORE
Meet Clarissa’s Grandma, Julie... she’s living proof that Just Zilch is bringing new hope to the lives of those in this community. 18 months ago she was a ‘customer’ in great need... today she says, “It’s important to me that I give something back”. Now as a volunteer, Julie says, “This place really matters and should be happening everywhere.”
Leah works at Just Zilch – usually in the back office. When we asked her about herself we had a bit of a ‘wow’ moment. Before joining the store she had suffered from a severe illness that effectively stole six years of her life – she was unable to do anything! It all changed one fateful night when she went to a local church and was prayed for – her healing kicked in the very next day. READ MORE
There’s an interesting little ritual that plays out most afternoons before the Just Zilch doors open. Early arrivals stake their place in the queue by leaving a personal item while they tend to other things. The order of arrival is respected and closer to opening time the items are then accompanied by their owners followed by a long line of others all happily sharing their news of the day. Many only know each other by their first names, but the social connection is unmistakable.