what makes your job worthwhile #3

Regina Philander, experienced cook at the Service Dining Rooms for over seven years, has more than enough know-how to help keep our kitchens running very smoothly indeed.  A quiet and patient woman but seldom without a smile on her face, she appears to handle her work days with calmness and composure.

Regina 1

“The staff, including the volunteers, generally work well together, so that is not a difficult challenge. Sometimes it’s stressful when a fight breaks out among our clients, but we can rely on Karen and Shorty and each other to deal with problems. We don’t feel unsafe here because we are part of a team”.

You’d think Regina would see enough of the inside of a kitchen during the week to give it a break when she’s not at work, but she still lists her personal interests as cooking, as well as sewing, knitting and crochet. (Turns out she and this blog writer have a lot in common – with the exception of the cooking, that is…). She leaves home at 5.45 to get to work on time, but weekends are for relaxing, hobbies, family and church.

regina and masooda
Regina and Masooda making a massive breyani ūüôā

Thank you, Regina, for your dependability and resourcefulness. The SDR couldn’t achieve what it does without you.


No excuses for Jo

There’s a wonderful article about Jo Maxwell in the People’s Post (22 August 2017), a Pinelands resident who, at 79, says she finds meaning in life by helping the less fortunate in and around Cape Town.

Jo Maxwell

We are exceptionally fortunate to be one of Jo’s charity projects because she runs a large number of projects that benefit people at risk. She is a champion fundraiser, an eternal optimist, and one of the most vibrant, energetic people you could ever hope to meet!

“I feel I must do something that will change someone’s life every day. That makes me feel complete. I treat my projects like a business, and put all my effort into them”, she told Nomzamo Yuku from the People’s Post.

Jo has found herself nominated as a finalist in the People’s Post Spec Savers Community Champions Elders Awards for 2017. ¬†Where would the world be without people like Jo, the other finalists and, indeed, anyone who gives up their time voluntarily towards helping others? Have you done anything in the last few days for someone you don’t know, out of pure generosity of spirit?

exercise for the heart

‚ÄúThere is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.‚ÄĚ ‚Äē¬†John Holmes

During the week of 17 to 21 July last month, around Nelson Mandela Day, we experienced an abundance of generosity from individuals and organisations in our community.  None of these people expect to be mentioned here, but we think a public expression of gratitude is warranted (the list is in no particular order):

food packs mandela day   packs mandela day

Staff of Retail Capital in Newlands (provided soup and sandwiches)

Staff of Medpages in Riebeeck Street (delivered over 400 sandwiches)

Staff of the Legal Services Branch of the Department of the Premier (delivered and served over 400 sandwiches)

Jo Maxwell (donated toiletry packs, food packs, and fresh vegetables)

Staff of I&J (delivered chicken mayonnaise sandwiches – above and beyond the regular donations from the company)

South Point Accommodation in Darling Street, Cape Town (for repairing and painting the dining room, bathroom and office at no charge)

Natalie Spirus (donated beanies and scarves made by herself and a group of friends)

My Citi (provided breakfast sandwiches for three days in a row)

Katie at Source Food in Loop Street (provided curry and rice)

Staff of Themis Law Chambers in Roeland Square (donated tea, coffee and creamer; socks for the sock drive, sanitary pads, and their time in serving meals)

Staff of BP Head Office (delivered and served soup for 400 people)

Nihaal and colleagues from Woolworths Adderley Street (donated 67 beautifully packed toiletry bags).

You have been blessed with kind and thoughtful hearts. Thank you.

Thanks to KMPG audit team

On Wednesday 14 June 2017, we were the lucky recipients of a whole lot of help and donations from the Investec Statutory audit team from the major accounting firm KMPG. The team had been nominated within their Financial Services division to perform the second Random Act of Kindness for the year.  This is what they had to say and show about their time with us:

We decided to visit The Service Dining Rooms on Wednesday 14 June 2017.


The Service Dining Room, under the management of Karen Cain, provides nourishing meals (breakfast and lunch) to the less fortunate every week day. 

Patrons are provided with a free meal when they present a token – which they receive using the ablution facilities at the Carpenters’ Shop or a medical check-up at the clinic. For those who are unable to present a token, an amount of R1 is payable.

The Investec audit team had a wonderful time serving food to the patrons and also assisted with the clean-up thereafter. We also donated beanies and socks for distribution to the patrons of the Service Dining Room.

Please visit their website for more details of the wonderful work that they do and contribute in cash or kind.

Thanks to all of you at KMPG who gave up your time to be with us, and to those who couldn’t be there in person but still made a contribution. We value your support, and could certainly not serve our clients as we do without this kind of generosity from our amazing Cape Town community.

Straatwerk – keeping it clean!

Twice a week, a team of helpers arrives at our premises to give the place a good scrub, dust, sweep and polish. They also clean the pavement in the vicinity and dispose of litter. The members of the cleaning crew vary from time to time, but they are always punctual and hard-working. They are organised by a nonprofit organisation called Straatwerk, which started in Cape Town over 60 years ago, and helps people to find a way of earning income on as regular a basis as possible. The Service Dining Rooms is just one of their many clients who outsource this type of work.

Our cleaning crew last week: (from left): Mike, Portia, Randy, Jamiel, Abby and Nyameka.

If you’d like to contact Straatwerk for any reason, the number is 021¬†930 8055 (all other contact details are listed on their website linked above).

when the going gets tough…

When Maria discovered she had leukemia, she and her mother, Alice*, left Zambia and came to Cape Town where she could be treated at Groote Schuur Hospital. She is currently in remission and, on Monday, will be undergoing a stem cell transplant. She’ll stay at GSH for five weeks. Maria is 24, has a degree in economics from the University of Lusaka, and certainly isn’t ready to give up on any of her hopes and plans for a successful future.

alice and maria

They visited us at the Service Dining Rooms this week and made a generous cash donation. Just as we recognise the incredible work of some of South Africa’s doctors, nurses and scientists, we will also keep you in our thoughts, Maria. We wish you strength and a speedy recovery, and hope that your smile never fades.

* Surnames deliberately omitted. 

Spick and span

A growing trend with restaurants is to allow the customers a view of the kitchen, either contained behind glass or as a more central feature. This is, after all, where all the hard work is done, and a clean well-organised kitchen goes a long way towards promoting the restaurant’s image.

While the Service Dining Rooms is not a restaurant, we’re still very proud of our kitchen, and we thought we’d kick off our new series of blog posts by inviting you to have a quick look behind the scenes.

Staff members Masooda, Regina and Nozuko are responsible for preparing, cooking and serving our meals, as well as the cleaning up afterwards.

Our kitchen equipment, including the cold room and the fire extinguishers, is serviced regularly and everything is kept in perfect working order.