About us

Founded in 1974, Berea Gardens Retirement Foundation has established itself as one of the premier providers of retirement accommodation and services in South Africa

Situated in the heart of East London on the Sunshine Coast, Berea Gardens is a Non-profit company providing high quality economic and sub-economic accommodation and services to its residents and members of its Service Centre.

Accommodation is offered both on a rental basis and on a unique life-right endowment scheme. Sub-economic accommodation  is available on a rental basis only in our Berea Gardens Residence and is limited to residents of Buffalo City.

The Foundation has assisted-living and frail care facilities at its Lily Kirchmann Complex in the heart of the main campus in Berea. Limited assisted-living facilities are also available at the Stirling Lodge Complex. Residents of the Foundation’s complexes have priority admission into its assisted-living and frail care facilities.

 The Service Centre has been called “the heart” of Berea Gardens and provides a wide variety of services, hobbies, activities and outreach opportunities to its members.

The Foundation is self-funding aside from a limited government subsidy to the Service Centre. Many retirees are outliving their retirement funds and the “creeping poverty” associated with this, together with inflation and the high cost of medical care, are major challenges facing the Foundation. The provision of more subsidised accommodation will become imperative in the future, but the reality is that it will not happen without significant donor funding.

The Berea Gardens mission statement is “to serve aged persons residing in the municipal area of Buffalo City, through the provision of economic and sub-economic accommodation, and of affordable wholesome meals, healthcare and recreational facilities, which are offered within its complexes to all communities”.

Browse through our website to see what we are providing for those in our care……..

The Board

Name Portfolio Background and experience
Alan Shaw Chairman Business Consultant
Jonathan Bax Vice-Chairman Attorney
Mike Schulze Executive Director Chartered Accountant
Gillian Bartlett Financial and Business Management Accountant and Professor
Penny Bellad-Ellis Nursing and Training Professional Nurse
Pieter Bosch Financial and Business Businessman
Jason Buret Building and Architectural Quantity Surveyor
Sheila Caswell Resident Director Business and Pastoral
Craig Kirchmann Legal and Labour Relations Attorney
Tertia Liebenberg Care and Welfare Social Worker
Brian Louw Business Businessman
Tony Mills Building and Business Retired Professional Engineer
Barbara Mkosi Nursing Professional Nurse
Singa Ngqwala Financial and Business Retired Provincial Auditor
Somila Sizani Legal Attorney

 

The history

The battle against the cost of living is often far worse for elderly people. Living on a small fixed income, perhaps just a pension, they can only watch in despair as inflation gallops away with their savings, hoists the rents of their flats and turns what should be the peaceful last years of their lives into a nightmare.

It was exactly this type of situation that led a small group of businessmen and housewives in East London to do something positive about the crisis. The group, led by Richard Mogg, a local pharmacist, then worked to establish a residential home for pensioners – a home where the rents would be kept to a minimum.

The idea of Berea Gardens came to Richard Mogg in 1970 when he made a delivery of some medicines one winter’s evening to an elderly couple who were regular customers of his pharmacy. He was appalled when he saw the flat they were living in – the two cramped rooms were at the back of an old, almost derelict building.  Rising rents had forced them to move from their old flat to this, the best they could afford on their limited income.

There and then Richard Mogg decided to do something about the problem.  He contacted the then Department of Social Welfare about his idea for a home for the aged. They put him in touch with Mrs Beryl Munnik, well known for her role in establishing the Village of Happiness in Margate. She was then living in East London.

Her enthusiasm for his idea was tremendous and together they set about the tedious procedure of cutting through the red tape that such a venture involves. As well as building the 126 flats, it was proposed that an adjoining centre for both residents and non-residents be set up, where people could get together for companionship. The centre could also provide facilities for hobbies, medical care, entertainment and so on.

The National Housing Commission agreed to provide a loan of R1,2 million repayable over 40 years at 1% interest. The plans submitted by the architect exceeded that amount and even after a bit of trimming, there was a shortfall of R45 000. The spirit of the venture was already infectious and the architects and quantity surveyors generously offered to underwrite the shortfall!

Richard Mogg then formed a Section 21 (non-profit) company called the East London Old Timers’ Centre (ELOTC). The then six directors all worked on a voluntary basis and each had skills to offer in his their particular field. Mr Frans Staal, for example, was an hotelier, so he advised and controlled the catering. Other directors included a medical practitioner, an accountant and a lawyer, (Mr. Denis Kirk) who gave their expertise for free and in this way costs were considerably shaved. The two lady directors, Mrs Marion Bryson and Mrs Patsi Harwood, undertook much of the running and organisation of activities of Berea Gardens.

When the Berea Gardens Residence first opened on 1st April 1982, there were 750 applicants for the 132 self-contained, unfurnished flats. Rentals operated on a sliding scale depending on the persons income, and were as low as R45 a month for a single and R65 for a double. To this day, rentals do not exceed 25% of the disposable income of residents.

Berea Gardens has become a household name in East London and the ELOTC was officially changed to Berea Gardens Retirement Foundation.

The organisation is well known for its expertise and dedication to the care of the aged and is a major contributor to the welfare of almost 2000 retired people in the municipal area of Buffalo City.

Berea Gardens Retirement Foundation has also taken up the role of mentor to other smaller non profit organisations. Management and capacity building, financial coaching, report writing and general aspects of project management are taught to these projects members with the long term goal of enabling them to operate as responsible organisations. The main source of funding for this process comes from the National Lottery and to date almost R5 million has been distributed by Berea Gardens, on behalf of the National Lottery, to these projects.