Grace Staindl-Dymond applied for an internship at Koala Kids to complete her placement for her University course, Science (Advanced) Global Challenges at Monash University. Grace has reflected on her experience with Koala Kids.   

In the short span of 120 hours I have learnt so much, and I am incredibly grateful to Mandy Mandie and Jess Bucci for welcoming me into the Koala Kids family; it has been an incredibly enriching and eye-opening experience.  

My internship at Koala Kids has allowed me to diversify my circle and connections. Not only was I introduced to volunteers, who vary greatly in age and demographic, I have had the opportunity to connect and empathise with families and healthcare workers who are facing incredible hardship. The opportunity to connect with people who are vulnerable is one that I will cherish, especially because I feel that I can relate to the effects and aftermath of one’s cancer journey in a very personal way. It has also been an opportunity for self-reflection and appreciation – to be mindful of the gifts that I have in my own life and to genuinely appreciate the opportunities I have.   

Philanthropy has always been a personal topic of interest, but I never truly realised and appreciated the number of dedicated staff and volunteers needed to create a well-oiled and effective not for profit organisation like Koala Kids. The Koala Kids family encourages autonomy and creative thinking and I really enjoyed observing how Mandy, Jess and all of ‘the family’ altered their approach to best cater to the needs of each individual family.  

Moreover, I have a deeper appreciation for business-drivers and the need for constant innovation behind the face of philanthropy. Koala Kids proved time and time again that it can adapt in the face of adversity (in particular COVID). An example that comes to mind is the Koala Kids lunches that were hosted in November and December of 2021. Instead of cancelling all fundraising events due to COVID restrictions, Koala Kids was able to adapt and invite volunteers to host lunches in the privacy of their homes to ensure a successful fundraising campaign. Similarly Koala Kids interaction with families since its inception in-person hospital visits, but quickly had to pivot its business model due to COVID and focus on families at home. Both of these adaptive changes have been incredibly successful, and highlights the importance of adaptability within a successful business model. I plan to carry this mindset with me into my future job roles.  

Koala Kids purpose is to bring happy moments to children and young people during cancer treatment. But my interactions with Mandy, Jess, the Monday Ladies and every other person I got to connect with during my Koala Kids journey, brought me my own moments of happiness and laughter. For that, I will always be eternally grateful and hold those moments close in my heart. I consider myself well and truly part of the Koala Kids family, and I cannot wait to collaborate and work alongside Mandy and Jess for many years to come!