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Fostering change: Behind Floriana’s desire to help children in care

As we find ourselves living through an unexpected and uncertain circumstance, I think it is so necessary to acknowledge and express gratitude for what brings love and light to our lives. 

This was the exact mindset that prompted me to embrace the unknown and try something completely new. In April of 2019 a significant chapter in my life closed, I found myself experience emotions I never thought possible (including that ugly demon heartbreak). I have always been somebody who embraces a challenge, craves opportunity and has a generous nature. However, at this point in my journey I felt completely deflated.

I distinctly remember a phone call had with a dear friend, former Pyjama Angel, Melissa Caccamo.

My gorgeous friend Melissa (pictured left)

Her words felt like sunshine.
She said “Flo, you need to find a way to divert all the love, positive energy and time you were feeding your relationship into something just as worthwhile’.

My friend reminded me of all the positive qualities I had to share with the world but had momentarily forgotten in the midst of sadness. Mel encouraged me to apply as a Pyjama Angel, give back to the community and be a ray of sunshine for a child who needed to be reassured that they are valued, worthy and loved.

Thank you for being my ray of sunshine that day and everyday Mel.


Without hesitation I applied that following day. Not long after I had my interview and attended training. I was shocked by the statistics around poor literacy and numeracy skills among children in care. However, I was more so enlightened, that spending only one hour a week with these children would help carve a positive outlook for their future.

Along the way I interacted with such passionate, likeminded and wholehearted individuals. The whole process just felt right. I knew that this was going to be such a special experience and I hadn’t even met my little cherub yet!

Typically, one Pyjama Angel is paired with one little person. However in light of embracing opportunity I was offered a dynamic duo, two brothers! I was paired with who I now like to call ‘Crazy number 1’ (aged 12) and ‘Crazy number 2’ (aged 9). I organically became ‘Crazy number 3’ (aged 23!).

My relationship with K&J began in August 2019 and the fun hasn’t stopped since!

Together we have;

  • Planted a vegetable patch

    My ‘magic bag’ of resources!

  • Made slime
  • Tackled puzzles and board games
  • Kicked the soccer ball outside
  • Read, researched and presented projects on their hobbies and interests
  • Completed homework (after lots of convincing!) and sometimes;
  • We just dance and sing like total crazies!

 

On a personal level, my passion for the non-for-profit sector and working with children has grown fiercely strong. I am also currently involved with The Pyjama Foundation team, working as a Marketing and Communications Assistant/Intern. This entire experience has prompted me to consider a return to university to study Youth Work. To nurture what I believe is my true calling!

Fostering a relationship with K&J has brought nothing but colour to my world. It helped turn such a dark and uncertain time into an incredible discovery of growth and opportunity. I feel grateful to be able to help these boys find a happier ending to their life story.


I thank The Pyjama Foundation for choosing me.

F xx

Santa swaps his sleigh for a limousine to visit Brisbane children in care

High profile celebrities are usually seen riding around in Premier Limousines’ luxury limousines, but this past Christmas some very special children were lucky enough to take a ride instead.

For many carers, Christmas can place a severe financial strain on their families; with many caring for upwards of five children at any one time. Carers so desperately want to ensure each and every child in their home is overwhelmed with joy on Christmas morning, as it’s often the reality that these children may have never experienced this magic before.

Each Christmas, The Pyjama Foundation team collects presents from generous community groups which are then given to children participating within its Love of Learning Program. This year they have teamed up with the very generous Premier Limousines to make Santa’s final visit before the big day extra special.

Our founder Bronwyn Sheehan said she’s proud to offer this special experience for these families this Christmas.

“It’s so amazing that we’re able to not only surprise these children with the appearance of Santa at their homes but also take them for a ride in a limousine, something they may never have the chance to do again,” she said.

WHY WE DO IT

Ms Sheehan said she wishes she could do so much more, with the number of children in care rapidly growing.

“Currently there are more than 48,000 children in foster care, and statistics show that approximately 75 per cent of these children will not complete high school,” she said.

“Many children in care bounce from home to home, and to difference schools which greatly hinders their ability to build relationships and meet learning milestones.”

The Pyjama Foundation recruits, screens and trains volunteer mentors, and then carefully matches them with a child in care.

Together, they focus on learning-based activities and games, with the aim of improving the child’s educational outcomes and confidence. Currently we are mentoring more than 1,400 children on a national scale with the hopes of expanding its reach in 2019.

To hire your own limo and feel like a star for an upcoming event or special occasion, check out our friends at Premier Limousines for a comfortable ride of luxury.

Find your Calling this National Volunteer Week

For not-for-profits, the hours given by each dedicated volunteer are quite often a large part of their success.

It’s because of the hard work of selfless people who make a commitment to change a life which allow children in foster care to believe in themselves and their dreams.

This National Volunteer Week, there are so many reasons to say ‘thanks’ and honour those who give their precious time to others.

We absolutely rely on our Pyjama Angels. After we recruit, screen and train these generous volunteers, they are matched with a child in foster care. They then commit to visiting the child once a week to inspire a love of learning.

Our founder and CEO Bronwyn Sheehan said it was these incredible people who allowed her to build The Pyjama Foundation from the ground up. These people believed in her mission from the start and continue to give their time – some 14 years later.

“After all these years, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing human beings,” she said.

“I have shared their tears, as they cried for those little people they cared for so deeply.

“And I have shared their happiness as they beamed with pride sharing their successes.”

How you can help

Bronwyn said her hope is to continue inspiring the community to join The Pyjama Foundation family.

“As we have grown, so have our waitlists,” she said.

“We currently have hundreds of children across the country waiting for a Pyjama Angel to come into their life.”

Becoming a Pyjama Angel offers just as much for the volunteer as it does for the child, with many commenting on the fun and fulfillment it brings to their lives.

For more information on how to volunteer, please head to our volunteer page at www.thepyjamafoundation.com/volunteer.