Ten years ago, Lynne Cumings was listening to Kfm and heard a suggestion that those members of the community who had lost their own mothers should take a cake to an old-age home on Mothers’ Day as a way to celebrate other mothers still living.
This inspired Lynne to do just that: in memory of her mother, Barbara Rodkin, she delivered a milk tart to Sea Point Place on Mothers’ Day. She felt good after performing this mitzvah, but, for her, it was not enough. Lynne explains “I thought about it, and I vowed from then onwards it was going to become something that would grow.” And grow it did: this year, Lynne’s venture, now called ‘Make a Mom Smile’, is aiming to deliver 10 000 cupcakes to moms all over Cape Town for its tenth Mothers’ Day on 10 May. How did the project get here?
In 2012, a year after Lynne delivered a cake to Sea Point Place, she was not only donating in memory of her own mother but in memory of Felicity Mtongana, her domestic worker of 20 years, who was a second mother to her son and who died suddenly that year. With support from family and friends, and after receiving donations from Checkers, Pick ‘n Pay and Spar in Sea Point, Lynne donated 100 cakes to local old aged homes on Mothers’ Day. But she wanted to make an even bigger difference.
The following year, Ryan O’Connor interviewed Lynne on Kfm. The message was to remember your mom if yours had passed on, or to honour her if she was still alive by delivering a cake to an old age home. “That radio insert changed my life,” says Lynne. The next day, she received a phone call to say that Tsogo Sun, as represented by Jeff Rosenberg, would be baking and donating the total number of cakes required by the Cape Peninsula Organisation for the Aged (CPOA) — the umbrella organisation under which many Cape Town-based retirement homes fall. Just like that, Lynne’s reach had increased from one cake in 2011 to 100 cakes in 2012 to 1500 in 2013. “It became a really big thing from that day onwards,” she reminisces.
A couple of years later, as the initiative grew, Lynne was approached by Nicki Wingerin, who had heard about the project and wanted to get involved. Since then, Nicki and Lynne have run Make a Mom Smile together and the venture has reached new heights — even after Tsogo Sun’s annual contribution ceased once Jeff left the company. In fact, the annual project has grown so much, that the pair ran out of CPOA homes and have started providing cupcakes to private and government related old age homes. They are always on the lookout for more homes to be included.
One way to get involved is to bake and donate as many cupcakes as you can. Lynne notes, “The cupcakes that come in range from your every-day bakers, with cupcakes just spread with icing, to the home industries that go all out.” Those who wish to bake should contact the organisers as soon as possible stating the number of cupcakes they will be contributing. They can then take their cupcakes to designated central drop-offs in Claremont or the Northern Suburbs on Thursday 7 May, after which a driver collects and delivers them to Nicki and Lynne, who painstakingly count cupcakes and distribute them among old age homes. In 2019, 8000+ cupcakes were delivered to 48 homes as far out as Somerset West and Bredasdorp.
For Lynne and Nicki, this is all about the mitzvah of tzedakah. “We’re pushing to get children involved because it becomes reciprocal… It’s a circle: the children honouring and remembering grandparents, us remembering our mothers — we’re all paying it forward.”
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