During Kylie’s time of need she discovered how much of a difference the work of volunteers and charity organisations can make to your life. Kylie was a grateful recipient of home-cooked meals from Bellyful and was one of the first recipients of our West Auckland branch in 2011. She now volunteers herself as a way of giving back to the community.
When Kylie and her husband Lorne had their 12-week scan, they found out their baby had a rare heart condition (although not the extent of it). Baby Isla was born prematurely at 32 weeks, and immediately underwent a life-saving operation. For 100 days from birth, she stayed at Auckland’s Starship children’s hospital, undergoing several operations throughout her time there. An additional 14 days were spent on the heart ward, where Kylie and Lorne learned the ropes of her feeding and oxygen tubes.
Every night Kylie would travel back to her West Auckland home, where she also had older daughter Skye to take care of. A tough situation for anyone, but add to that no family support in Auckland, and it’s a tougher situation than most.
What a beautiful surprise it was when Kylie opened her front door one day to find a parcel on her front doorstep. It was filled with delicious, nutritious dinners which would save her the hassle of figuring out what to cook or buy for dinner every night.
A fellow mum at Skye’s kindergarten had seen Kylie & Lorne dropping their eldest at kindy and heading straight to Starship every day to be with Isla. This mum also happened to work as a coordinator at Bellyful. Without mentioning anything to Kylie*, she organised for meals to be delivered to their home.
“It was like Christmas. They just started coming without us even knowing. We had been eating pretty badly so it was amazing to have these healthy, home-cooked meals just delivered to our doorstep. They continued to come every week for 3 or 4 months without us even knowing. Had I known I might have pushed back a bit, but to have them just turn up was so helpful. They were so gratefully accepted”.
The best part? “The home cooking**. They were things your mum would cook. You could tell it had been cooked with love.”
Isla is now eight years old now and doing great. She has had a couple of minor upkeep operations but nothing too serious. Isla and Skye even have a new little sister.
Kylie looks back on her experience and says she now has a deeper understanding for how helpful volunteer work can be in the community. “I’m a chef by trade, so I now help out at some of the Bellyful cook–ups. I try to do things in the community to give back, as I have a deeper understanding of how helpful volunteer work can be.”
Kylie is deeply thankful to Bellyful for their help in her time of need. “Families with young children don’t have the extended family/neighbour support as much as they used to. It is such a worthy, needed organisation.”
*Bellyful West Auckland was the 2nd branch to open in New Zealand in March 2011. These days Bellyful delivers only to families who have agreed to be visited by a Bellyful volunteer and meals are delivered hand to hand by our wonderful volunteers. Families receive sufficient to feed the immediate family for 3 meals. Families are then contacted about 2 weeks later and if necessary a second delivery is made. In circumstances like Kylie’s, a family may receive extended support.
**Bellyful meals are cooked in community kitchens, by Bellyful volunteers who are trained in good food safety practices.
Bellyful is a charity organisation which provides meals to families with newborn babies, and families with young children struggling with illness. There are 23 branches across the country. If you would like to nominate someone as a recipient or make a donation to support the cause, visit www.bellyful.org.nz
Words and photo by Claire Levien