Volunteer profile: Anne

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How did you get involved with volunteering for Children First Foundation?

I became a volunteer for Children First Foundation, following an introduction to the organisation by a nursing colleague at Child and Family Health Services (CAFHS).

In my role as a CAFHS nurse, I had supported many Non-English-Speaking Background families. Like many retirees, I had volunteered for several organisations over the years, however, Children First Foundation stood out in that it provided support “every step of the way” and is an organisation that changes a child’s life forever.

Anne with little Tuong-Lam Nguyen, her mother Tam Pham and her father Thang Nguyen

Tell us a little bit about your volunteering role with us…

My volunteering role for Children First Foundation in Adelaide involves liaising with staff in Victoria and coordinating a team of six volunteers, Lee, Robin, Ngoc Nhung, Roeun and Natalie who each come with their own expertise and skills. This allows us to work together to provide holistic support for our families while they are in Adelaide. We are unique in that we provide volunteer support for families with hospital appointments, visits during hospital stays and support while they are staying in the community. Support includes transporting them to and from the airport, settling them into their accommodation, taking them shopping for groceries and clothing and taking them on outings. We also try to link them up with families of their own culture, which allows them to feel more secure.

Tell us about your most memorable times of volunteering with us so far…

Each family provides us with memorable moments. One little girl named Kensy came to us from the Solomon Islands with her grandmother Jessica. Kensy was born with a rare craniofacial condition, where her nostrils had developed on her forehead, so she had a nose without any nostrils. This required corrective craniofacial surgery. She had been rejected by her father at three months old, and so her grandmother Jessica raised her. The family were with us for quite some time, Lee and I would often take Jessica and Kensy to a playground for an outing.

After surgery, Kensy came out of the operating theatre and was taken straight to the ward as she had recovered so well. I saw her the next day and was surprised to see only a band-aid over her nose. A week later Kensy had her band-aid removed. When I picked her up, we stood in front of a mirror in her room. She looked puzzled initially as she did not recognise the face she saw until she realised it was hers! She gave the biggest smile I had seen since she had been with us. This occasion still brings me to tears. This is what Children First Foundation is all about.

As a volunteer for Children First Foundation, I consider that we are privileged to be in a position that enables us to support families throughout a life-changing experience. For me, it’s important to use the skills we have in this world to support the needs in our community as they arise.

Tell us a little bit about yourself…

My husband and I live in Adelaide. We have  three married children and four grandchildren who all bring us much joy. The pastimes I enjoy include, babysitting grandchildren which is great for keeping us young, catching up with friends for a coffee or a walk is always welcome. I’m presently writing a family history, which has been a worthwhile journey and one I would recommend.

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