It is almost impossible to get an appointment with Elaine Watson, wife of former Southern Kings rugby captain, Luke Watson, due to her busy schedule after the recent launch of the Goodnight Market in Port Elizabeth, of which she is a founder member. The Goodnight Market is the smaller, yet more sophisticated counterpart of the monthly Saturday Valley Market and is hosted once a month on a Thursday evening.
But for her and Luke it is all about spreading love and hope to the destitute in whichever way they can. All proceeds at the door for both markets go to covering monthly operational costs of the Love Story community project they started in 2012.
The project has a soup kitchen in the PE city centre, called City Feed, where about 200 homeless people are fed every week night. Their feeding schemes also reach thousands of destitute people in the townships, providing between 40 to 50 thousand meals per month.
“So the more support we get for Love Story the better as it allows us to do more within the community,” she says.
Amazing public support
“It’s been amazing to see the PE public support the markets. There have been about 2 000 shoppers and 50 exhibitors at each of the Saturday markets. It’s been a huge blessing.”
The Thursday Goodnight Market is strictly food stalls and a slightly more laid back atmosphere. “Shoppers can bring their own wine and enjoy a dinner experience as opposed to a shopping experience,” she explains. The next Goodnight Market is March 17, 2016.
She says all the furniture at the markets has been built by the Love Story woodwork project, which empowers men off the street. The markets also create about 15 casual jobs for people on the street.
The Love Story project is supported by many churches and regular volunteers in the city. A number of volunteers also come from America, the UK and Holland.
There is a team that run the day to day activities of the Love Story project, but Elaine is still involved to a certain extent in the day to day activities and on a managerial level.
Though she is busier, she says she is also challenged “in this new space of creativity and enjoying it thoroughly.”
And to keep a balance between family life, Love Story and involvement in the Valley Markets, she says, “I have a very close network of family and friends that assist me to make it all happen.”
“My three girls, Noa, 5, Ava, 4 and Mika, 2, are in school in the mornings. My baby boy Isaac, 4 months, is with me amidst the busyness of running around from meeting to meeting. I’m then at home with my kids in the afternoons.”
And Luke is a constant support. He is the oversight of Love Story and according to Watson, the Valley Markets’ biggest fan. “He is at every market to support us,” she says.
If Kings Fans wondered how things are with their former captain, Elaine says: “We are very well and are enjoying this season of busyness and increased capacity. We see God moving daily in people’s lives around us and are extremely grateful to be included in His plans.”