Eastridge resident Mark Jeneker, a man driven by passion and community spirit, was awared the prize for the best contribution to crafts and design at the Cultural Affairs Awards ceremony in the same week that his art class at Yellowwood Primary School was destroyed by a fire (“Art room destroyed in fire”, Plainsman, Wednesday February 10).
The awards are held annually to celebrate individuals and organisations in the province who make a positive contribution in the Cultural Affairs sector. Awards were given to organisations and individuals who have made a profound impact within the sectors of arts, culture, language, heritage, museums, archives, geographical mames and libraries.
Mr Jeneker volunteers his services hosting arts and crafts classes at Yellowwood Primary School in Tafelsig and Mitchell’s Plain Town Centre library.
He said Mitchell’s Plain library nominated him last year and he was notified of this in December.
“I was surprised and excited when I heard I was nominated. When I arrived at the ceremony and received the beautiful award, I was honoured and humbled as it is something I did not expect.
“This award means a lot to me because I have a passion for arts, craft and design. I am even more motivated. I enjoy working with children because I can see they have talent, and of course they keep me young,” he said.
At Yellowwood Primary he teaches arts and crafts to pupils but on Monday February 1 a case of arson was opened after two pupils allegedly set the art classroom alight, causing about R50 000 worth of damages.
“The (art) pupils are so talented and extremely dedicated. It was very sad when our classroom was burnt down. The children’s items were destroyed as well as the materials and equipment.
“We are now forced to work outside in the quad. Even though our class was burnt down, their passion will continue to grow and improve, despite the situation,” he said.
Mr Jeneker funds the art materials for the children himself and has appealed to individuals and businesses to consider contributing to the project.
When asked why he volunteers at the school and library, he said: “I think it’s important to invest in the community. All children need is love and attention and at the library, that’s what the staff and I aim to (give them),” he said.
Mr Jeneker is at the library weekdays between 3pm and 5pm and on a Saturday from 9am to 2pm.
“I teach about 40 children per day. I feel like Father Christmas without pennies,” he laughs.
Mr Jeneker said he has loved art since a very young age.
“I remember making sandcastles at the beach when I was young. I was very particular about my castle. Mine was unique and creative. At the age of six, I collected wood and matchsticks and made various items such as photoframes and mini chairs,” he said.
“Arts and crafts have many benefits and will help children with developmental skills, such as fine motor skills, co-ordination, creativity and also their self-esteem. If you are able to assist with any donations, don’t hesitate, let’s help our children of Mitchell’s Plain.”