KOALA Kids volunteers acknowledge 1,700 mothers & grandmothers

Mother's Day 2015_2 Mother's Day 2015_3 Mother's Day 2015KOALA Kids acknowledged that the children of around 1,700 mothers, grandmothers and other female family members remain in cancer treatment each year.  So on the day after Mother’s Day this year KOALA Kids volunteers accepted an invitation from Manhattan in Toorak Village to enjoy brunch and each other’s company while thinking of all of those mums whose lives are far from normal while their children are undergoing treatment.
One of our own volunteers, Anna Shimony whose son Eitan was diagnosed when he was two (he is now five) joined us and shared some of experiences she wishes she never had to endure as a mother.  Anna also has a daughter Mia, 3 years and is looking forward to Eitan’s last chemo and the end of treatment this August.

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR

Each year KOALA Kids is fortunate to interest a small number of university students seeking work experience in the not for profit space and the opportunity to ‘give back and do for others’.

Last year four particularly enthusiastic students joined the KOALA Kids team of volunteers. Jo Hutton, Lily Johnson, Sophie Mullen and Grace Kerr. Each of the full time university students bought their own set of skills to the program and were keen to use in support of the KOALA Kids activities. Alison Brown, commerce student who had written KOALA Kids newsletters in 2013 was travelling overseas during most of 2014 returning late last year in to resume her role.  Ali wrote the current summer newsletter.

Each of the interns have been exemplary in their effort, juggling studies with their family and social lives and their KOALA Kids commitments.

Late last year Mandy Mandie, program director KOALA Kids announced university intern, Grace Kerr the inaugural KOALA Kids volunteer of the year, 2014. Grace was chosen for her outstanding commitment to KOALA Kids Monday morning program at The Royal Children’s Hospital and her involvement in the social media and events sub-committees.

Grace at our Australia Day themed Morning Tea Party
Grace at our Australia Day themed Morning Tea Party

“Grace’s award is not to say that every single KOALA Kids volunteer is not worthy of the same. However the enthusiasm with which Grace embraced the responsibility for the coordination and support of the weekly activities at the hospital is commendable. Grace endears everyone she meets from Merridy Justice and Mary McGowan in the Kookaburra ward and Day Cancer Centre at The Royal Children’s Hospital’s Children’s Cancer Centre to Neridah McMullen, KOALA Kids book club coordinator and Sonia Nedovic, RCH Education Institute early learning educator.  20 year old Grace, public relations student at RMIT welcomes and greets families and children in treatment each week at the pizza making session, the morning tea party and other specialist volunteer activities.

Grace’s enthusiasm to get involved in many aspects of the program at the hospitals and in the office is a reflection on how she approaches life – her family, her studies and busy social life.   She works with KOALA Kids interns on the social media sub-committee, founding and writing KOALA Kids blogs and is an integral member of the events sub-committee, which included taking fabulous photos at KOALA Kids Halloween lunch at Steer Bar and Grill as well as working for the duration of the event.

INCREASE IN KOALA Kids SUPERHEROES

George Billington as his superhero Ninja Turtle.
George Billington as his superhero Ninja Turtle.

The upside to the unfortunate increase in the number of children and adolescents attending Peter Mac Cancer Centre for radiotherapy treatment is that there has been a marked increase in the number of requests for KOALA Kids superhero status.

Zoe with her older sister Lucy receiving their super heroes gear from Frozen!
Zoe with her older sister Lucy receiving their super heroes gear from Frozen!

Since the beginning of November, nearly 30 children and adolescents aged between two and 15 years, have applied for and subsequently awarded KOALA Kids superhero status including four siblings as super siblings. Each of the superheroes and siblings receives the costume or sporting jersey of their choice in addition to a customised treatment chart where relevant, customised stickers and a certificate at the end of treatment.

Saul as Buzz Lightyear!
Saul as Buzz Lightyear!

KOALA Kids has responded to requests for characters like Darth Vadar, Mutant Ninja Turtles, Buzz Lightyear, Batman and Spiderman as well as old fashioned characters like Cinderella and Snow White and perennials like penguins, dogs, witches and dinosaurs.

KOALA Kids volunteer living in Ottowa Canada Kenia Fitter,provides each superhero with their own personal and customised treatment chart and certificate for bravery on completion of their treatment.

KOALA Kids is particularly grateful to Kenia

https://www.facebook.com/FunCutsCards

Costume Collection https://www.costumecollection.com.au/ for the donating outfits for the kids

Scholastic Australia https://www.scholastic.com.au/

and Hinkler Books https://www.hinklerbooks.com/

Disney https://www.disney.com.au/,

Funtastic https://www.funtastic.com.au/ for the books, activities, DVDs, dolls, and other products they provide each time KOALA Kids registers a superhero.

KOALA Kids Volunteer on My Kitchen Rules

Camilla Counsel (right), KOALA Kids intern, is one of the Victorian contestants in this season's My Kitchen Rules, Channel 7 after the tennis.
Camilla Counsel (right), KOALA Kids intern, is one of the Victorian contestants in this season’s My Kitchen Rules, Channel 7.

“Being a part of My Kitchen Rules has been such an incredible and invaluable experience. My partner on the show, Ash, and I have been best friends for nearly two years now and I don’t think we quite understood the intensity of what we were getting ourselves into when applying! Being part of such an wild adventure taught us so much about each other and also ourselves – our ability to endure such high pressure situations and learn to always work as a team. I can’t wait to return to helping out at KOALA Kids and being involved again in all the fantastic things we do. Hope you will enjoy watching us on MKR – go Team VIC!

Volunteer Profile: Joey Hutton!

I began volunteering at KOALA Kids in March this year. Completing my final year of an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts and planning a degree in journalism, I was searching for a worthwhile way to devote my free time that could additionally improve my career-oriented skills. KOALA Kids particularly inspired me after meeting Mandy through friends of her families, and hearing of the foundations mission to provide the little things that make a difference to children and adolescents with cancer and their families.

Joey in the KOALA Kids office!
Joey in the KOALA Kids office!

My volunteering experience has been invaluable, having being involved in many different areas including distributing donations, event organisation and social-media co-ordination. Of particular interest has been collaborating with Peter MacCallums OnTrac division, an exciting new venture for KOALA Kids to further its efforts by providing suitable donations for adolescents and young adults. Most importantly, volunteering at KOALA Kids is extremely rewarding. It is amazing to consider even the smallest things achieved in a day in the office, such as filling an admission bag or a pill swallowing kit, can positively impact children and families during their cancer journey.

Further KOALA Kids relies on the generosity of donors and volunteers and it has been highly inspiration to witness how many people with much more demanding schedules than myself, devote so how of their time and effort to the foundation.