Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Charity work - autobiography

At school I use to do some door knocking and collections for charity. Don't ask me which one though as I can't remember lol.

After Ryan was diagnosed though, I did a lot more. When he was first diagnosed we had Care and Concern from St Mary's come and help with his physio. Then of course there was Montrose Access (who at the time was called Montrose home for crippled children), who supplied his physio, occupational and speech therapists, along with social worker. It cost nothing for this service.

I felt that I had to give back to the community. Most of it was probably guilt based, due to being told at the time I was a carrier for the DMD gene. So to me, helping outside the house was me putting karma out there as a sort of forgiveness. Yes I know, stupid way to think, but at that time I was not thinking rationally. In fact for the next god knows how many years I didn't think clearly haha.

First to receive my help was Lifeline telephone counselling service. I really enjoyed this and did it for about 3 years. What happened for me to stop, was burn out. I started out with 1 shift a fortnight, on a Sunday night from 4 until 10pm. That changed to weekly and because I couldn't say no when asked to fill in, it ended up as 3 shifts on a lot of weeks. While listening to people talk and helping them in the right direction was great, it took its toll eventually. I seemed to work every father's day, which I hated, as it would break my heart when men would ring in tears because they weren't allowed to see their children by the mothers. I also seemed to get Christmas night, which was people upset at not seeing family - mainly the elderly. I also did some overnight shifts. These were the hardest as calls were from people in physical pain, usual from something terminal and also those that were lonely. Its not the type of  work that you get happy calls.

By this time, the kids were at school. I spent the next 11 years doing tuckshop, 9 years on the p & c committee as QCPCA rep, bookshop convenor, vice president and president. I also did classroom reading, swimming and anything else that was needed.

In 1998 Ryan put in his wish with Starlight Children's Foundation. Once it was in, I then joined them as a wish volunteer. I use to be given a case and would have to meet with the child, find out what their top 3 all time things they would like to do/have was, then go about trying to get number 1. I lost count of the number of children whose lives I brightened. Things were not just small. For example one child asked for a cubby house. The one I ended up getting for him was off the ground, with a sandpit underneath, steps and a cargo net to get up into it, a swing set off the side and a slide out the back. Another girl had never had a birthday party and at 5 didn't have long to live. I had 2 weeks to organize it and held it at the local school. It had dodgems, giant slide, pony rides, face painting, magician, merry go round, pizza, ice cream cake, fairies and a telly tubby costume for her to wear. To see her face was just magical. The best part of doing the wishes was that most companies donated the items, or did them at a very low cost.

I also helped Starlight in their first Qld starlight room when it was built at the Mater hospital, delivered easter eggs to the 2 Ipswich hospitals children's wards and stood on street corners selling merchandise. Again putting so much into what I did, burnt me out, plus I would never claim back any expenses, so money became as issue as well and by around 2003 I had stopped this.

Around this time I was canteen convenor for Ipswich Little Athletics. Volunteering my time since Troy was competing there. When he stopped going there it was a relief not to have to do it lol. It was every Friday night in the canteen, Fridays collecting the food for that night, Thursdays ordering day and I also had to do the high school in the area as well, when they had their sports days there.

Boy I am exhausted just writing this haha.

2004 saw me take over secret santa at EmailCash. September until December was spent with this. I loved it!! I got to know so many people that I wouldn't of otherwise gotten to know. Some people who previously I hadn't even noticed on the site,  would email me and we would get to talk and know each other well. I did secret santa for 7 years, the last couple on another site and about 4 secret bunnies. Thousands of cards have been through my house on their way to surprise someone. And over a thousand gifts were exchanged in that time.

I think it finally took until last year (2010) until I decided that I didn't have to pay back the world. Finding out that I wasn't a carrier and that Jade wasn't either probably had a lot to do with it. Now I pick one cause and help them each year, but in a lot more relaxed way.

I don't think I will ever stop, as its still my way of paying back the community for the help we receive. But I am learning to slow down.

Had to add to this today as I remembered more lol. I did some work for CODI, trying to get them some publicity when they were first starting out. I sort of fell into this when I attended Ipswich's first disability expo and got talking to the guys that were on the committee at the time.

I have also spent the past year as secretary for Northern suburbs rugby league club. Jade roped me into this, with her being bar manager there and the club struggling to get people on the committee. Its the one job that I hate to do haha Have already told them I won't do it next year.