Eastridge resident and accomplished crafter Mark Jeneker was named LeadSA’s Hero of the Month for August.
Every day, Mr Jeneker runs free arts and crafts classes at the Mitchell’s Plain Library and Yellowwood Primary School.
Pointing at the work of the “library kids”, Mr Jeneker said he is honoured and thankful for the award.
“At present I am still in awe. It feels so surreal,” he said.
Mr Jeneker, a former drug addict who served time in prison, turned his life around five years ago, deciding to do something to help his community.
“With my background and what I have been through, I never thought in a million years that I could even come close to what I have achieved today. Art has always had my interest,” he told the Plainsman.
“After I kicked my drug addiction and went for rehabilitation, I realised that I needed to do something life changing — not only for myself, but for the broader community of Mitchell’s Plain, aiming mainly at the young children and youth,” he said.
Mr Jeneker said with the inspiration and help of another artist, he found his calling and now conducts voluntary art sessions with limited materials and equipment.
“We sometimes get donations, and are encouraging residents or businesses to assist with any art and craft materials.
“I also feel that there is a great need for an Art Centre within the community, to provide youth with activities and helping to keep them off the streets,” he said.
In February this year, he received the Western Cape Cultural Affairs Award for Best in Arts and Design. The initiative exists to celebrate individuals and organisations in the Western Cape who make a positive contribution in the cultural affairs sector.
“My work is still progressing and I aim to go as far as I can with my mission. A huge thank you to all who have supported me,” he said.