The Ark’s children and young people asked Dr. Peter-Alexander Wacker questions relating to friendship. Then, as part of a big children’s party, they exchanged friendship bracelets as a symbol of the long-term partnership the company has fostered with donations now totaling €1.2 million. “At WACKER, we make a sustainable contribution through our commitments to society,” explained Dr. Wacker. “That’s why we want to continue to nurture our twelve-year friendship with the Ark.”
In 2006, the City of Munich provided the Ark with a container in the northern district of Moosach. Thanks to the dedication of the team at the Ark, this temporary solution was a happy place for the children and adolescents. Ark staff members take care of the young people, provide a warm meal for lunch, help with homework and arrange leisure activities and school holiday programs. More containers were added in the course of the decade, before being removed in the spring of 2016. As the City of Munich was building them a new home on the same site, the Ark moved into neighboring city-owned premises temporarily.
“The modern new building shows that Munich is investing in order to combat child poverty,” stressed Dr. Wacker. German Federal Employment Agency figures underscore the growing need: in 2015, around two million children and young people under 18 were living in families receiving welfare benefits – 52,000 more than in 2011.
Bavaria is one of the richest 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 percent 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 is often connected with material sacrifices and social exclusion, and limits their social, cognitive and health development. This is where the Ark’s activities play a key role – as proven by the children’s performance at school. In 2017, seven young people obtained a secondary school leaving certificate, three an intermediate school leaving certificate and two a vocational diploma. Since 2012, 28 of Ark’s young people have successfully completed an apprenticeship; one of Ark’s protégés is now studying at university. As a friend of the Ark, WACKER is particularly pleased about such successes due to its long tradition of commitment to the education of children and young people.
The Ark has also found good friends in the neighborhood – and not only among the children there. “Many neighbors support our work. Some bake cakes, others regularly volunteer their time at our homework room or by serving lunch and others donate goods,” Larissa Rauter, head of the Ark in Moosach, is happy to report. Long-time friends of the Ark also include the team of WACKER volunteers who donate a large buffet of cakes for the summer party every year.