Susan has been volunteering with Fight Cancer Foundation for 18 months. She visits our North Melbourne accommodation centre and spends time with kids currently staying there - reading with them, conducting science experiments or just chilling out.
How long have you been involved with Fight Cancer Foundation?
I started volunteering at BMDI Rotary House about 18 months ago. Gee, is it that long?
What do you do for Fight Cancer Foundation? (What does this involve/look like?)
I visit families, with kids who are staying at BMDI Rotary House. Depending on medical appointments and my own work commitments, I visit at a mutually agreed time for about an hour and spend a relaxed, fun time with kids. The child might be receiving treatment, or someone in their family might be, so depending on what they wish to do, I might play in the upstairs lounge/toy room, listen to music, share my newly released books and other books in the BMDI collection. I bring my own favourite classics in. Eric Carle’s picture storybooks are my favourite. I love reading to kids!
On another day, I might pull out the laptop and help write a simple sentence book over a period of time with a young child, and help them to draw, or find online images or lyrics to fit the topic in between my visits. It’s up to them.
Older kids might wish to just chill out and have a chat about school, friends, interests. I have shared my experiences as children’s author with a few tweens who are receiving treatment. If they show interest, I might show them photos that give them an idea of how I work with illustrators as an author (to storyboard content for The Reading Mountain books.)
Depending on a child’s special interests, wellness and how organised I am, we might even do a craft activity, (pasta jewellery), threading, construction, audiobooks, singing or conduct a science experiment together, using everyday items. A highlight of my work was seeing inquisitive Charlie’s little face light up when our big playdough volcano ‘actually erupted’ out on his balcony! (We did clean up with Nanna Jo’s help!) The priceless response: ‘Susan, that lava wasn’t really very hot!’
It’s about having fun and giving kids and families a little timeout from cancer, even if it’s just for a short time.Relieving the monotony of being indoors and isolation due to compromised immunity is a by-product of spending time with them. I love the relationships I have formed at BMDI House.
How did you become involved?
Now there’s a story…but in short, I met the lovely Vicki Rochester (Manager of BMDI Rotary House) at a mutual friends’ BBQ at Point Lonsdale one Summer. We laughed a lot and we ‘clicked’.
Why do you choose to volunteer your time with Fight Cancer Foundation?
Vicki shared her own family’s cancer story. I remember thinking; ‘What a strong, resilient, skilled and positive lady!’ I was in awe. Vicki’s work and how she helps families is inspirational and I thought if I could, I would volunteer some of my time as an educator and author, to also help out. It’s the least that I could do. It helps me as much as it helps families as it lifts us all up, albeit for a moment in time.