Monthly Archives: October 2016

Toby McCredie Golf Day raises $15k for Very Special Kids

Held at the prestigious Woodlands Golf Club, golfers enjoyed a great day out on the greens while raising $15,000 for children with life-threatening conditions.

Not only was it a great round of 18-holes, but this event has a rich and meaningful 10-year history as the Toby McCredie Golf Day.

Toby was a healthy and happy 11-month-old baby. He loved playing with his big brother Jake, and brought much love into the lives of parents Penny and Tim. However, Toby accidentally choked while eating his lunch

After spending 9 days in Intensive Care, it was evident that Toby had suffered severe brain damage and Penny, Tim and Jake spent the next 3 weeks in hospital by Toby’s side.

During this time, Very Special Kids supported the family but sadly, Toby passed away just 8 days after his 1st birthday.

The care that Very Special Kids provides is still offered to the McCredie family, through our Bereavement Support Program. We help them through services such as sibling days, artistic therapy, counselling and family activities that connect them with other families sharing similar experiences.

The funds raised at the Toby McCredie Golf Day will allow us to continue supporting the McCredie’s as well as many other families in need.

Thank you to our sponsors:

  • Our hosts – Woodlands Golf Club with a special appreciation going out to Richard Tullberg and Louise Cooper, Sean Keenan & Jason Simmons
  • Financial Coaching – with a special thanks to Roger Paul and Lois Taylor
  • Orange Business Services – with a special appreciation to Kevin Griffen and Alex Skewes
  • In-kind sponsors – Lion and Asahi

Also, a big thank you to:

  • The McCredie family – Tim, Penny, Jake & Lachlan
  • Luke Young for sharing his story
  • Darren James our MC
  • Bruce Clark, Peter Hutchinson and Travis Keenan for their support with the Calcutta
  • Peter Thackrah for entertaining us
  • Golf Select for managing the registrations and mobile scoring
  • And finally, thank to everyone who played!

Riding for a worthy cause

The Shepparton community came together for the Powercor Tour de Depot – a family-friendly, bike riding event that raised $60,000 for Very Special Kids.

On Sunday 23 October, community participants started the ride at Victoria Park Lake and had the option to ride five or ten kilometres. More serious riders took part in the time trial riding a distance of 20 kilometres.

As riders crossed the finish line they were greeted by cheering crowds and joined a community festival with activities for the whole family. From carnival rides, face painting and Powercor’s Static Bike Challenge to food stalls and local entertainment, it was a fantastic, action-packed day.

One family that took part in the community ride was the Holmes family. After losing their six-year-old son Henry, the Holmes family are supported by Very Special Kids’ bereavement program and understand the importance of community fundraising events.

“I’m so thankful for all the support,” Jess Holmes said. “When Henry passed away, we not only lost our child, but we lost so much more. The one constant thing has been Very Special Kids and taking part in the Powercor Tour de Depot is our way of giving back.”

Powercor Regional Business Manager Ian Gillingham said he is thrilled with the overall result of the day. “We believe that for us to be the best we can be, we must give back to the communities in which we operate and recognise the support they provide. The Tour de Depot is our way of saying thanks.”

On behalf of the team at Very Special Kids, we wish to thank Powercor for their incredible support in helping us care for more families in the Shepparton region.

Piggy Bank Appeal brings home the bacon

A huge $1,043,697 has been raised in the 2016 Piggy Bank Appeal to help more than 900 Victorian families caring for children with life-threatening conditions.

Five giant piggy banks travelled 7,238 kilometres across Victoria collecting donations for the charity Very Special Kids, with the support of 357 volunteers, 88 ALH Group venues, 277 Commonwealth Banks and numerous other businesses and organisations.

Very Special Kids CEO Michael Wasley says the funds raised will enable Very Special Kids to continue its important work.

“We are extremely grateful for the generous support of our corporate partners, our volunteers, and the Victorian community, for enabling us to care for more than 900 families across the state.

“While the future is uncertain for many of these families and their children, one thing they can rely on is that Very Special Kids will be there to offer respite and end-of-life care through the hospice and practical and emotional support through our Family Support Services and Family Service Volunteers, and all free-of-charge.

“It costs $7million per year to operate Very Special Kids. Thank you for helping us give these families that certainty,” said Michael.

On Thursday night a finale event for the 2016 Piggy Bank Appeal, recognised the businesses, community groups and individuals that worked tirelessly throughout the month of September to raise funds for Very Special Kids, including major partners Seven News Melbourne, Commonwealth Bank and ALH Group.  Awards were presented to those who went the extra mile.

Piggy Bank Appeal Awards

ALH Group
  • Highest Fundraiser for Category A: St Albans Hotel raised $5,629.30
  • Recognition Award for Category A: Oakleigh Junction Hotel raised $4,524.45
  • Highest Fundraiser for Category B: York on Lilydale raised $12,534.35
  • Recognition Award for Category B: Gateway Hotel raised $11,428.90
  • Highest Fundraiser for Category C: Blackburn Hotel raised $16,628.90
  • Recognition Award for Category C: Seaford Hotel raised $12,463.65
Commonwealth Bank
  • 1st Highest Fundraising Branch: Mornington raised $3,592.25
  • 2nd Highest Fundraising Branch: Castlemaine raised $2,890.45
  • 3rd Highest Fundraising Branch: Rosebud raised $2,776.20
  • Branch Recognition Award: Eden Rise Village raised $1,174.50
Lotto Outlet Awards
  • 1st Highest Fundraising Lotto: Inverloch Lotto raised $7,331.30
  • 2nd Highest Fundraising Lotto: Clifton Hill Lotto raised $5,893.95
  • 3rd Highest Fundraising Lotto: Heathcote Champions Super IGA raised $1,110.00
Community Supporter Awards
  • 1st Highest Community Fundraiser: Pantry Brighton raised $37,221.70
  • 2nd Highest Community Fundraiser: Westend Market Hotel raised $13,302.90
  • 3rd Highest Community Fundraiser: Keilor East RSL raised $13,000
  • Community Fundraiser Recognition Award: Frankston RSL raised $5,395.10
Volunteer Recognition Awards
    • Rising Star Award: Lucy Nicholson

This recognition is deservedly being awarded to a young person who has contributed over 60 hours voluntary work during our Piggy Bank Appeal whilst studying at the same time.  She never said no to any last minute gaps to fill when people had dropped out.  She constantly helped willingly and always with a smile. During this time, she also assisted in the office with donor relations administration and data entry.  We are thrilled to be able to recognise her contribution to the success of this year’s appeal.

  • Volunteer Recognition Award: Efstra Dalaveris

This award was a difficult decision to make with so many worthy contenders but the decision was ultimately made to honour a volunteer who has been a constant and reliable support throughout the whole of September in many different capacities ranging from travelling around Victoria on a piggy trail, assisting with mail-outs, rattling tins at countless CBA and ALH venues and even cleaning our piggy bank merchandise.  She has contributed over 105 volunteer hours in September alone and would have done more if we hadn’t have told her to take a break now and then!

Taking care of the carer

Taking care of yourself is one of the most powerful ways to take care of others.

October is Mental Health Month – a time to dedicate to achieving the best health and wellbeing you can.

Caring for a child with a life-threatening condition can be emotionally and physically exhausting, so when you are looking after others it is important to recognise your own limitations.

We asked some parents supported by Very Special Kids what they do to get through the hard times. They came up with these tips for looking after yourself while caring for a child with a life-threatening condition.

  • I find I talk things through a lot, with people I trust. I find that my counselling sessions help a lot
  • It helps me to sleep if I have a long hot bath with candles, a glass of wine and meditation music just before bed
  • Scheduling date nights with my husband and going on a girls’ night out helps too
  • When the going gets tough I try to remind myself to just deal with today, don’t stress the tomorrow or next week, just get through today
  • If I know it’s a long hospital admission I get a volunteer for my child and I have a sleep or cup of tea by myself
  • Three breath hug: In times of deep distress and fear gather together, arms around each other and take 3 deep breathes together

Very Special Kids has a dedicated Family Support Team that specialises in counselling for families who are caring for a child with a life-threatening condition and for bereaved families. To find out more information click here.

Very Special Kids celebrates World Hospice Day

For World Hospice Day, Victoria’s only children’s hospice Very Special Kids celebrated with a range of art, music and pet therapy activities.

Many chronically ill children who stay at Very Special Kids Hospice cannot communicate verbally or have difficulties hearing, seeing, moving or responding. The impact of art, music and pet therapy on these children is extremely beneficial.

On-site Musical Therapist Amy Howden says “today we created some fun and colourful ‘wheelchair art’ on a large canvas and the kids danced on the art and played musical instruments to their favourite songs.”

“The opportunity to be an active participant in a shared musical experience can be powerful for these children who are severely disabled and find it difficult to take part in many activities.  For them, music is their voice.”

On-site Art Therapist Svetlana Bykovec agrees, “the transformation I see in children through participating in art activities is incredible. For many of these children it’s the only way they can express themselves.”

The Music Therapy program has been running at Very Special Kids Hospice since 2001, Art Therapy was introduced in 2015 and Pet Therapy has only just been introduced this year. All three programs are now an integral part of a child’s stay at Very Special Kids Hospice.

Very Special Kids Hospice Manager Sue Kearney says “World Hospice Day is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of the very important work we do in Victoria.”

Very Special Kids supports more than 900 families across Victoria who are caring for children with life-threatening conditions. We provide 24-hour nursing care at Victoria’s only children’s hospice, as well as professional support services for their families.

Dreamtime fun at Very Special Kids

During the September School Holidays, children staying at Very Special Kids Hospice enjoyed a range of interactive and fun activities.

With a special ‘Dreamtime theme’, the children had many opportunities to explore Australian indigenous culture through stories, arts and crafts, outings and hands on experience.

From excursions to the Melbourne Museum and visiting the Bunjilaka Cultural Centre to cooking up a storm making bush tucker and damper, we even met some Australian wildlife!

In addition, children also engaged in art and music therapy activities and created a large Dreamtime artistic piece. Thank you to Svett from The Art Cabriolet and Amy our onsite Musical Therapist for making the School Holiday Program an amazing interactive and creative experience.

Operated four times each year by Very Special Kids Hospice, the School Holiday Program ensures that children with life-threatening conditions have access to activities and outings in a safe and controlled environment.

‘Why I’m honoured to be a nurse at Very Special Kids’ – an interview with Theresa Haasbroek

In the lead up to World Hospice Day on Saturday 8 October, we chat to Very Special Kids Hospice Nurse Theresa Haasbroek about the rewarding nature of her work and what she has learnt from her experiences as a nurse.

World Hospice Day is a unified day of action to celebrate and support hospice and palliative care around the world. What does World Hospice Day mean for you as a nurse working at Very Special Kids?

Celebrating World Hospice Day is to draw attention to the unique and wonderful work of pediatric hospices and palliative care providers around the world. Very Special Kids is unique in our palliative care services as we use a holistic approach that aims to add quality of life.

Our staff work together as a team in a warm, welcoming and supported environment.  With our tools of compassionate education, presence, listening and medicine we help make the dying process less physically and emotionally painful for the patient and families, bringing more peace of heart and mind to everyone involved.

Our dedicated passionate nursing staff are working side by side with our Pain specialist and Family Support Practitioners so that we are able to address physical symptoms as well as psychosocial or spiritual problems. Our music and art therapy programs also play an enormous role in the way we support not only our vulnerable little children but also their siblings. The quality of care we give at Very Special Kids is second to none.

What do you find most rewarding about what you do?

It’s such a rewarding job because I am gifted with endless reminders of the value of selflessness and unconditional love. I find a great sense of accomplishment and meaning in being an advocate for patients and families without a voice. I am honoured to be called into the most sacred and vulnerable time in young people’s lives. Helping children and their family have as much control as possible at the end of life helps me appreciate how many choices I have in my life.

What have you learnt from your experiences of working as a nurse?

I have learnt how to live and love more fully. My experiences in hospice have taught me to cherish precious time spent with my loved ones, and my limited time here on earth. I get daily wake up calls to the temporary nature of life. If I ever had a chance to change my career the only thing I would have done was to become a Hospice Nurse at Very Special Kids much sooner.

Very Special Kids supports more than 900 families across Victoria who are caring for children with life-threatening conditions. The organisation provides 24-hour nursing care at Victoria’s only children’s hospice, as well as professional support services for their families.