A few weeks before the start of Bavaria’s school vacation, The Ark held its traditional summer party. Stephan Roth, head of HR at Munich headquarters, handed over the WACKER donation check. A young man who has stayed loyal to the charity since his childhood prepared an interview with him. “How does being a key source of support for us at The Ark in Munich make you feel?”, was one of the things he wanted to know. “It makes me happy to see how happy you all are here. I am a parent myself and believe it is very important that every child has somewhere that always makes them feel welcome and that they always want to come back to,” he explained. “When I see all your smiling faces here, it's a clear sign that The Ark is a true haven for you.”
WACKER has donated €1.3 million to The Ark over 13 years of partnership. The enduring friendship began when the City of Munich provided The Ark with a container in the northern district of Moosach in 2006. Thanks to the team's dedication, this temporary solution was a happy place for the children and adolescents. Since its humble beginnings, The Ark's support workers have taken care of young people, provided warm meals for lunch, helped with homework, and arranged leisure activities and school holiday programs. More containers were added over the course of the decade until they were removed and The Ark temporarily moved into neighboring municipal buildings. A year ago, amid great excitement that remains undiminished, The Ark moved into the large, modern, bright building built for them on the old site by the City of Munich.
Bavaria is one of the wealthiest federal states, and Munich is the fourth richest urban district in Germany. Yet there are many poor children even in such a wealthy city, as shown by Munich’s 2017 annual report on poverty. The basic jobseekers’ assistance program included a total of 22,200 children at year-end 2016 – nearly 12% of whom were under the age of 15 in Munich. Over a third of them have been receiving welfare benefits for four years or longer, and a further ten percent for at least three years.
For children, growing up in poverty often means material deprivation and social exclusion, and deficits in their social, cognitive and health development. This is where The Ark’s offering has proven sustainably successful – which the good grades achieved by long-term Ark attendees corroborate. On average, every day around 25 children complete their homework at The Ark, which routinely liaises with teachers from nearby schools. Volunteers support The Ark's work, aiding their educational support programs and reading project, for example. As a company traditionally committed to the education of children and young people, WACKER welcomes this focus.
“Ten of our young people obtained a school-leaving certificate last year. And one of our boys got a certificate that would enable him to attend university,” said a delighted Larissa Rauter, who is in charge of the Munich branch of The Ark. She added that “One of the things we focus on is participation, and we’re now enjoying initial successes: the children are getting more and more involved and are actively organizing their daily routines during their time with us.”
A key factor in the support provided by the Ark is a daily hot lunch – the only warm meal of the day for many children. The Ark provides some 8,000 hot meals a week throughout Germany. Around 60 children eat lunch at The Ark in Munich every day.
Since everyone has a sweet tooth, lots of cakes were once again baked for The Ark’s 2019 summer party. After all, WACKER volunteers are among the charity’s long-standing friends. The team of volunteers jumped at the chance to once more put on an impressive spread for the children at this year’s summer party by bringing along plenty of homemade cakes.