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Charity auction raises $40,000 to provide mentors

16 November 2018

Charity auction raises $40,000 to provide mentors for children of prisoners

Fourteen children with a parent in prison will get a mentor following a charity auction that raised more than $40,000 in Auckland this week.

Pillars works with the families of prisoners, providing a wrap-around social service and offering mentors for children.

Pillars chief executive Verna McFelin says the auction money will go towards providing 14 new mentors for Auckland children as Pillars always has a wait list.

“It’s just fabulous and what really stands out for me is the generosity and giving of the people at the auction,” she says.

Children of prisoners are the invisible victims of crime. They often get ostracised from the community and develop physical, mental and behavioural issues.

“Unfortunately, the prison population is increasing right now and so is the number of children that need support. What mentors do is give the children positive futures because they are 9.5 times more likely to end up in prison without that support,” McFelin says.

Mt Eden man Dale Gray has mentored a boy for the past five years through Pillars and says the experience has taught him a lot.

“It helps you appreciate what you have and others don’t have. I’m a big part of my mentee’s life and he’s a big part of mine, so truly we are both much better for it,” Gray says.

Pillars was chosen by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to receive a $5000 donation as a gift to Prince Harry when he married Megan Markle in May this year. The Royal couple visited the organisation on their tour of New Zealand earlier this month and gave out awards to four mentees.

“They are really lovely people and really do care and were very interested in Pillars,” says McFelin.

“The children were absolutely thrilled to meet them and the families were so proud.”

There are more than 20,000 children in New Zealand who have a parent in prison and Pillars is always looking for new mentors. See for more information.

“They just have to be themselves, we will support and train them,” McFelin says.


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