Years ago - back when we operated out of a double garage and our front porches - we helped a mum with a baby girl who had left a violent and abusive marriage.
She was alone in Australia - she and her husband had moved here not long before - and she had no family or friends. He had discouraged any new friendships seeking to isolate and further control her. The violence increased during pregnancy - which is something that is all too common.
Once it became unbearable and once she realised that she could not protect her daughter from her father's rage, she took a brave step and asked for help from an ex-work colleague.
Together they planned her escape and she started over. Thanks to the generosity of people like you, we were able to give her a cot for her baby daughter, as well as clothing and other essentials.
That Christmas, and every Christmas since, this mum has donated money to buy a new cot for another baby.
When I saw the email notification of her donation to buy a cot for this year’s Christmas Appeal I burst into tears. I was overwhelmed with emotion that this brave mother has now provided at least eight safe places to sleep for eight babies she will never know. She is my hero.
There is nothing more I want for Christmas than knowing we made a mother feel supported at a time when she most needed help.
Christmas is all about peace and goodwill, and the hope that the birth of a child brings to the world. In the words of one of our social workers, Catherine from Star Health:
“No matter what circumstances people are experiencing, or what trauma and stresses they have experienced previously, they still foster hope for the future and especially hope for their baby.”
I’m excited to share with you our last newsletter for 2019 filled with stories of amazing people just like you.
Thank you for everything you do to help us waste less, share more and care for every baby and child.
My warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
The impact of giving
Did you know that 98% of the goods we give out are donated to us and that we rehome 66 different items? Amongst those items are cots, car seats, prams, clothing, linen and toiletries.
These items sound so basic don’t they? But their impact is literally life-changing.
They are the means for an isolated parent to walk to the shops with their baby in a safe pram with the ability to carry their shopping home.
They are the dignity for a scared, traumatised young woman going into hospital to have her first baby without so much as a toothbrush.
The love you give to these families - through passing on your child’s items, giving your monetary support, donating your services, or volunteering - never fails to amaze us.
We all hope in a time of crisis that our loved ones will be there to embrace us and our families. We're so grateful you recognise there are families in our community who do not have loved ones to turn to. Thank you for making the choice to step in when they have no one else.
A note of thanks to share
Sivan from Dandenong Aboriginal Co Op came in last week to pick up an order for a mother and her two children, displaced by family violence.
Last year the family had a bleak Christmas in emergency housing. This year will be a little brighter due to your support.
As Sivan was collecting items from us, she told us how excited the mother was to be receiving a pram for her youngest child. Imagine how much more enjoyable summer will be as she takes her children out for a walk in the park.
We have also been able to provide clothing, a toy pack and a school bag filled with learning activities for the older child, beginning school next year. Starting Prep can be daunting enough without feeling like you don’t have the right clothes or things you need - thank you for playing a role in helping this little one look forward to starting their school journey.
How you make families feel
This is the power of your support. We include a feedback card with every clothing bundle we distribute and the photo below is an example of the messages we get back in the post.
We also heard from another mum recently about what it meant to receive clothing for her older children. She said it gave her children the dignity of choice in what they wanted to wear. It also relieved the pressure of constantly trying to make sure the limited clothes they had were washed regularly.
When families receive items from St Kilda Mums they can concentrate on paying for other essentials like bills and food. They are given choice. They feel supported by their community… our community.... you.
You help us in so many ways!
Below is a photo of Julia with her daughters. She has made the decision to make a monthly donation to St Kilda Mums.
"I became a regular giver because at the moment I can't volunteer often, but I still want to make a contribution to women and children at a time in their lives when they need it most.
Helping a mum and baby feel safe, sleep safe and simply not have to worry about some of the simple things is so important and I'm happy to help with any little thing I can do to support that. I'm very grateful to St Kilda Mums for being there and making this possible."
You can learn more about our Give to Grow monthly giving program here.
A special business relationship
Last week our friends from Victorian Freight Specialists delivered two pallets of much needed donations, collected by their employees. Everyone, from office staff to delivery drivers, contributed to ensure a happier Christmas for families in need.
VFS are our freight partner, delivering stock to regional Victoria at no charge. We would not be able to reach every Local Government Area in the state without their generous support.
They are an example of the many and varied ways businesses - large and small - help the families we support.
Children helping children
Last week, the 2020 captains from Camberwell South Primary School came to St Kilda Mums HQ for a tour. They also dropped off 80 Back-To-School backpacks filled with stationery! This generosity means 80 children experiencing hardship will feel more prepared and excited for the new school year.
And check out our beautiful new roller door! Big thanks to PICHA Projects for generously discounting their sign-writing services.
What a night we had at Lakeside Carols on 5 December! The community came together to sing, dance, play, and eat great food, and raise over $4,500 for St Kilda Mums! We’re so thrilled to be part of this event. Thanks to everyone who shared their Christmas cheer with us and the families we help!
Update from our board
We would like to acknowledge the contribution and support of two retiring board members, Linda Grace and Jesse Vincent.
Linda's volunteering began as a bundler and pro-bono legal adviser. After becoming a member of our fundraising sub committee in 2012, Linda joined our board in 2016 and became Chair in 2017. Linda is the mother of a young family and had her third child during her time with us.
Jesse started volunteering in early 2013 with impact reporting. She helped organise data and created meaningful reports; this work was the start of our annual 'what we rehome' impact tree. She joined our board as Treasurer in November 2014, helping us complete an audit with very little notice!
Both Linda and Jesse are an amazing inspiration to us - juggling motherhood, a busy job and giving back to the community.
If you want something done - ask a busy mum!
Linda has passed the baton onto Deidre Mackechnie as Chair, and Clementine Thompson has taken over from Jesse as our Treasurer. Our board represents all three branches - St Kilda Mums, Geelong Mums and Eureka Mums - and oversees governance, financial management and accountability, and policies and procedures. You can read more about the Board on our website.
Thank you Linda and Jesse for your incredible contribution to our organisation; you are a shining example of volunteer commitment and giving back.
Update on the regional project
Two and a half years ago we set out to ship goods to every single local government area in Victoria so that every baby could have a safe start to life, and we are delighted to report that as of today, we are in contact with agencies in all 79 LGA and have shipped to 77 of them.
In running the numbers for our annual report we discovered some amazing facts. 43% of all children living in poverty in Warrnambool for example have received goods from St Kilda Mums in the last year. This is a great result, but there are many other parts of the state where we have only just begun.
The scale of unmet need in our state is vast, but we're so motivated by the scope of what we can achieve with your help.
Our promise to you is that we will take your support and turn it into real, life-saving impact for at-risk families, as cost effectively as possible. We trade in the currency of your compassion and trust, and we feel a great responsibility to lead this organisation to deliver your generosity into the lives of the families you intend to help.
Thank you for being there for them, and for us.