Tim Baker and Kiwis For Good:
A Journey of Redemption, Hope and Empowerment
Kiwis For Good are hitting the streets of Whitianga this summer to raise funds for their counselling services and a new documentary “One Last Story”
Founder and Managing Director of Kiwis For Good, Tim Baker, reached out to The Informer about the work of their organisation.
“We recently partnered with the world’s largest online counselling service, BetterHelp, which has 30,000 counsellors and counting,” says Tim.
“The counsellors can be based in New Zealand, Australia, the U.S, U.K. or Canada and are connected to people via Zoom and Skype. With this ability, we can reach anyone with an internet connection in NZ; particularly helpful for people living in isolated areas where there might not be many counsellors. The beauty of this is that BetterHelp actually funds half of the counselling session while Kiwis For Good pay the other half. There is no cost for the person who needs to talk to someone. These counsellors are vetted and qualified. We piloted this in 2023 and depending on how 2024 goes, we hope to roll this out across the country for everyone aged 13-25years.”
We discussed with Tim the fact that mental health issues had a high profile in New Zealand in the past year and asked how Kiwis For Good fitted with the work done by other very good organisations like I AM HOPE and Shine.
“We’ve seen some great people making a real difference in recent years and they have pushed for real change, “says Tim. “Kiwis For Good focuses on shining a light on issues other organisations don’t have the resources to touch or it is simply not on their radar. We’ve been making some real strides in mental health advocacy, debt relief, and counselling. We provide debt relief advice, but not in the conventional sense. Our legal team recently discovered many debt collection agencies are lodging fraudulent claims against people. We’ve shone a spotlight on these practices and put together a process to have these claims thrown out should they ever make it to court.
We have recently produced articles, animations and short films and are currently working on a totally free to view, feature length documentary, taking an in-depth look at the mental health system, specifically the medications we are prescribing to children with depression. I think it will really shock people what we have discovered. We hope the film will bring about a change in the way we treat mental health in NZ, give people hope, and prevent lives being needlessly lost. Look for ‘One last story’. It will be a significant piece of communication. “
Hard times and challenges:
Tim has not always been the Director of Kiwis For Good. As an adult, he has however, always been a businessman and entrepreneur. But, despite his success, for a period of his life he struggled with addiction. Balancing the attention of public life, business and struggling with addiction and mental health created non-sustainable pressures. Recovery was a game-changer for Tim. “It wasn’t easy, but it taught me so much about myself – resilience, empathy, you name it. I took all those hard-learned lessons and channeled them into something positive, which led me to establish Kiwis For Good.”
Time was keen to stipulate regarding their collection staff and the method of collecting that all their collectors have clear identification and are registered as collectors with Kiwis For Good.
“In fact there was a time when someone was caught impersonating us,” says Tim. “It was our quick response and a sharp-eyed supporter who contacted us and cleared up the situation and saved the day. Protecting Kiwis For Good’s reputation and fundraising efforts are key.
Also, we have had to deal with a few instances of misinformation. Social media can be a real minefield, but with over 15 years in the charity sector, I’ve learned a thing or two about handling these situations and keeping focused on the positive impact we’re making.”
Toilet paper and Donald Trump
But looking back Tim describes a very edgy and humorous period of his business life.
“A man came along, that would very briefly, make me internationally famous – Donald J. Trump. My nature is to stand back and observe the world. I was thinking about a new business idea – quality toilet paper – musing over this as I watched the endless press spewing out of the television, radio, online magazines and newspapers and also people’s rhetoric, about Donald Trump, this American businessman turned Presidential candidate. Then out of the blue, my friend said, “You know what would be good, why not make Donald Trump toilet paper? That was a light bulb moment. I think he was a little surprised a few weeks later, when I told him we had a 40-foot shipping container with 50,000 rolls of this stuff on the way. The next three years were just bedlam and keeping up with the demand all over Britain. It was a ride but one I don’t want to do it again.”
Tim has been on an amazing journey of resilience from a difficult past to leading a major charity. He is passionate and has a clear direction for Kiwis For Good. “Everyone has a past, but it’s what you do with it that counts. Kiwis For Good is here for the community.
With the community’s support, we can face any challenge, clear up any misunderstandings, and build a stronger, supportive Coromandel Peninsula.”
Kiwis For Good will be in this region from Saturday, 25 January – Thursday, 15 February.