Brown Buttabean Motivation or BBM was the brainchild of Dave Letele. As he recently joked at our network breakfast, ‘It’s not a business model you want to replicate if you want to make money!’. Rather BBM’s ethos is to make a difference in the communities they serve, helping to ‘better the lives of those that society has left behind, to give them a push-start to get back on track’. They achieve this through their bootcamps, youth programme, food education workshops, social supermarket and foodshares.
30 Hobill Ave is where you’ll find the Wiri BBM Foodshare, supporting the community with food insecurity. This is where we met Ina Walters, manager of the Wiri branch.
‘The BBM Food share is a place where people can come and get kai if they are struggling. We love to feed our family, they will not be judged on their circumstances. Often it’s those that are on a benefit, or low incomes, and people that lost their jobs during covid – but it’s anyone that’s in hardship’ says Ina.
‘We’ve been at the current Wiri site for around a year now. We were originally a food bank operating on Jack Conway Ave – we slowly evolved from operating out of a back of our gym to this space on Hobill Ave as a food share’.
In the past, the food share was run on just volunteer help. We now have staff and we get casual volunteers from larger corporates.
You might be wondering what the difference is between a foodbank and a foodshare. Ina explains that ‘Food banks tend to have more of an ‘ours and them’ mentality and people need to meet criteria to receive help. With the foodshare, it’s for anyone that needs help, you don’t need to show any paperwork except some ID so we can record who’s coming to visit us’
‘We’re supporting on average over 200 families per week. On a busy week it can reach up to 800. Through the floods, there were thousands that needed our help’.
Ina herself has faced some big obstacles and found herself at rock bottom not dissimilar to Dave Letele’s own story.
‘I went to prison twice for drug offences – I was using drugs to numb the pain of my partner’s suicide. I felt so unworthy and I just couldn’t cope’.
‘I was in that cycle, I’ve seen it with my family. I’ve seen it with the people around me. I just didn’t want that life for me and my kids’.
Ina has been part of the BBM family for over three years and with their help, has managed to turn her life around.
‘When I was in prison, there was a rehab programme where I learnt the tools and once I left I knew that I needed to use to them. I had put on a lot of weight and exercise was one of the things I needed. But I couldn’t afford going to a gym. But BBM was free and I jumped into my first class and haven’t stopped going since.
Having lost over 40 kilograms, Ina has become one of BBM’s success stories. She’s even one of the trainers now.
‘My kids, my mum, my dad, my sisters – all had unconditional love for me and wanted a good life for me. I had to do it for them if I wasn’t doing it for myself’.
‘I’m a totally different person now. BBM, Dave and his wife have done nothing but empower me’.