Uniting the community

It wasn’t an easy start to life for young Māori woman Kriddles Roberts. Born into gang life, she experienced homelessness as a teenager on the streets of Sydney.

However, by the time she was appointed the youngest ever president of the Rotary Club of Waitakere, NZ, in July, Kriddles already had an established reach within the local community through her own charity, Unity in Our Community. Drawing on her passion for helping those in need, Kriddles is bringing together the two community-focused organisations for the benefit of the local people.

Kriddles established Unity in Our Community (UIOC) five years ago to empower people and support the local community. As well as helping dozens of families in need with regular deliveries of food packs and clothing, UIOC holds free community events each year that showcase local artists, provide community services and education, and necessities to help those in need.

“Our artists are both New Zealand icons and artists local to the area we are in at the time to give them advertising and experience. Community services include SafeMan SafeFamily, anti-violence advocates, haircuts and a doctor to take blood pressure. Everything is provided for free,” Kriddles said.

The event has grown from one performer and two stalls to attracting more than 1000 people, with sponsors including The Web Company, Affiliated Film and Media and New Money helping the event grow. While this year’s event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that hasn’t stopped Kriddles from reaching those in need.

“During the week I do clothing and food packs for struggling families, inmates’ families, prisoners getting out of prison, people needing clothes for interviews and work, women’s centres, small community organisations and people in need who message me on the UIOC Facebook page.”

With the support of a small team, Kriddles undertakes most of the work herself and works around the clock to source and provide support. Her new role as Rotary club president will only serve to increase community support.

“I hustle seven days a week as I bring in a massive amount of products. Because I’m on ground zero, I see those who are suffering and opportunities for Rotary support by way of projects that are needed. Presently, we are working on healthcare and first aid kits for big Whanau,” Kriddles said.

The Rotary club has been involved with UIOC events for the past two years, providing a spit roast as part of the food market, and invites motivational speakers connected with UIOC to speak at Rotary club nights.

Kriddles joined Rotary two years ago to be part of a ‘bigger machine’ supporting the local community. And having taken on the role of president in July, Kriddles has wasted no time outlining her priorities.

“In my term as president, I want to focus on what I do anyway, which is community events. I want to set goals for membership, black tie fundraisers, youth development and more community projects,” Kriddles said.

By Kylie Hatfield