Tag Archives: volunteer

Very Special Kids' staff members, Anna and Jenn, are standing outside at the Yarraville Family Day. They are smiling in the sunshine.

Yarraville Family Day

On Saturday 19 February, Very Special Kids’ Family Support Team opened the doors to our new Yarraville office for its first Western-Metro Family Day event. The Yarraville office is set on a green reserve which provides the ideal space to bring families together.  

We welcomed families from the Western suburbs of Melbourne to view the office and meet other Very Special Kids families for a day of fun and activities. Families enjoyed a paper flower making activity and a pizza lunch in the park. The weather was perfect, families were excited, and the Very Special Kids volunteers were crowned the “Seven wonders of the natural world,” as they kept the little ones entertained.   

Volunteers helping at Yarraville Family Day smile for the camera

Intimate local events, like this, offer Very Special Kids families a safe space to meet other families who understand what it is like to navigate childhood illness. As a result of COVID-19 this is the first opportunity a lot of families have had to reconnect. One Very Special Kids parent shared, “It’s really good for my kids to be able to see other Very Special Kids children in person again.”  

For the children and young people who attended, it was great to have the opportunity to play and have fun with other Very Special children and their siblings. One, 10-year-old child excitedly said, “I love coming to family days and to sibling days…can you do more of them?!”  

Very Special Kids support over 850 families across Victoria through life, death and bereavement. Our integrated approach includes emotional, clinical and practical support to improve quality of life and create positive, lasting memories.  

We are very grateful to Freemasons Foundation Victoria, for their generous support in making the Yarraville Family Day possible.

Celebrating 30 years of Very Special Kids

Very Special Kids celebrated its 30th anniversary in style with 264 guests channelling their 80’s spirit for a gala event at The Park in Albert Park.

Donning mullets, teased hairstyles and brightly coloured taffeta dresses, guests gave generously by bidding on a fantastic range of auction items, purchasing raffle tickets and pledging 30 bed nights for children to stay at the Hospice. The final fundraising total for the night was an amazing $162,000.

Hosted by MC Brigitte Duclos, guests were entertained throughout the night by a live comedy set from Lehmo and happy snaps in the photo booth, and danced the night away to music of the ‘80s performed by BigCityBeat.

Special guests Jasmine (15) and Lucy (16), both supported by Very Special Kids, discussed the special bond they share after meeting at the Very Special Kids Hospice and provided insight into living with a life-threatening condition. Many in the crowd were moved to tears as Lucy performed an original song to standing ovation.

The Very Special Kids 30th Anniversary Gala would not have been possible without the generous support of Major Sponsors; Telstra, CMC Property Services and Melbourne Events Group. Special thanks also to Supporting Sponsors IGA Liquor, Lion, Redbank Wines and Helping Hand Group.

Thanks also to the dedicated team of volunteers who assisted in making the 30th Anniversary Gala a night to remember.


Bonding over bowling

14-year-old Ricky Ellul from Craigieburn has Neurofibromatosis, a rare condition that causes tumours to grow in his brain. The tumours have affected intellectual development and his sight, meaning he is now legally blind. However, they don’t stop the ever-positive Ricky from playing double bass, the drums and going tenpin bowling.

The uncertainty of Ricky’s future and the complications that come with his condition has put pressure on his family – parents Mario and Silvana, and Kristina (18), Adam (17) and Bianca (15). The family has endured Bianca having back surgery to assist with scoliosis, and Adam will soon have to an operation to correct severe flat-foot.

To help ease the pressure, Ricky and his family have been receiving special help from a trained home volunteer provided by Very Special Kids.

Volunteer Sam Fahnle went through the training in 2014, and now helps the family by taking Ricky out on weekend excursions, including his favourite activity, Tenpin Bowling – an activity Sam also loves.

The few hours without Ricky in the house on the weekend gives Silvana a chance to have a break and help out her other children, and most importantly, Ricky loves his time with Sam.

The friendship between Sam and Ricky has flourished, with Sam attending Ricky’s birthday and being the first person Ricky called when he found out his tumours had slowed their growth.

“Being a boy, it is good for Ricky to have a male friend to talk to,” says Silvana, “Having a male volunteer to spend time with gives Ricky opportunities to do activities he enjoys, but might not get to do as regularly otherwise.”

Sam is buoyed by the knowledge that his volunteering has a positive impact on Ricky and his family and is eager to recommend volunteering with Very Special Kids to other men. “It’s so worthwhile for the family. It’s only a few hours out of my time and it means so much to Ricky,” says Sam.

Please call 9804 6222 to find out more about exciting volunteer opportunities with Very Special Kids.