Thank You Thursday: A Delicious Destiny

December is here and Christmas is fast-approaching. It’s a time of giving, sharing, tinsel and, of course, pudding! So, when choosing your pudding, Christmas treats or even gifts why not look for an option that is also having some social impact in the world too?

The Diamond Collection is a boutique range of quality goods handmade with love and care by some very special women in regional NSW. The collection includes an exclusive chocolate range made with the finest Belgian Callebaut® chocolate and at this time of the year, they specialise in Christmas puddings!

The Diamond Collection operates as a social enterprise of Destiny Haven, a non-profit residential place of healing for women whose lives have been shattered by life-controlling illnesses such as addiction, eating disorders and self-harm. Set on a beautiful 42 acre property in the picturesque Hunter Valley, Destiny Haven provides the professional, physical and emotional nurturing needed to restore the health and capacity of women.

In addition to generating income to support the much-needed service for our most disadvantaged women, The Diamond Collection also provides training and opportunity for them to learn skills that can transfer into employment in the future.

Destiny Haven’s residential program is unlike many other recovery programs in that it is long-term and women can reside there for up to a year or more. Residents live in a warm and caring family environment, sharing daily life and responsibilities of the household.

The Christmas puddings are made from quality ingredients with a three-generation recipe, cooked in the traditional coppers and wrapped in calico. Also on offer are the pudding truffle balls, a beautiful milk chocolate ganache blended with the homemade puddings and encased in a rich dark chocolate shell.

So this Christmas, we’d like to give a shout out to the team at Destiny Haven and their Diamonds. And, if it’s not with Destiny Haven, try to find others where you can be a little more sustainable with your shopping and gift-giving.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick

Thank You Thursday: Community Connections

A recent report by VicHealth suggested that there is a new public health challenge emerging and it might not be what most of you would think. It’s loneliness.

According to VicHealth “loneliness is proving to be more than just part of the human condition. New research shows it’s a serious public health problem, for young people as much as the elderly“.

While it may not be a surprise that loneliness can have links to depression, global studies are showing links but the idea that loneliness can be associated to poorer cardiovascular health, faster cognitive decline rates and possibly even dementia.

There’s a stigma to loneliness too, but a new Australian non-profit is here to change that.

Friends for Good raises awareness of loneliness as a significant issue in the community and addresses gaps in services to foster a greater sense of connection and wellbeing for individuals and communities. They are doing research, educating the community and providing services targeted to socially isolated people.

They are currently conducting an online survey, called Time We Talked, where from almost 600 respondents they are learning that over a quarter are currently feeling lonely. Earlier this year Friends for Good launched Friendline, a support line for anyone who is suffering from or affected by loneliness.

And in November, the organisation will host the first national conference on loneliness in Australia. The Australian Loneliness Dialogue aims to bring people together to understand loneliness in our communities, raise the profile of this issue and to develop recommendations for actions required by government, policy makers and practitioners.

This Thank You Thursday we give a shout out to the team and Friends for Good. In a short amount of time this small non-profit already seems to be punching above its weight. We look forward to seeing how they foster connections and build community further as they grow.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick

Thank You Thursday: Bales of Love

Here in Australia we live in the second-driest continent in the world with average rainfall less than 600mm every year on most parts of the land.  Across the country, April to June this year has been the fourth-driest in over 100 years. Drought is definitely upon us.

For many Australians this concept of drought is an abstract thing, but for the farming families living on the land it is their every day reality.  Diminished crops, dwindling feed for livestock, water levels in creeks and dams dry up and eroding land is damaged.

For many farmers, even some in their 60s, this is the worst drought they’ve experienced in their lifetime. And recent rainfalls across parts of NSW have not really made much difference. It will take much longer, and much more rain, to see improvements in agriculture, let alone end the drought.

Two small non-profits have been working to help Aussie farmers before the drought, but are really stepping things up and advocating for them through this really tough time.

Rural Aid was founded in 2015 by Charles and Tracey Alder to provide a holistic support program to rural Australia after hearing about how some farmers were having to shoot their own cattle and being forced off the land. One of their main initiatives is Buy a Bale and helps get bales of hay to farmers in need. A trailer of hay can cost up to $2,500 and sometimes up to $5,000 in transportation costs which can often mean the difference between cattle surviving or not.

Friends Natasha Johnston and Nicki Blackwell began Drought Angels just over four years ago when they heard stories of farmers – who were working hard to feed Aussie families – were struggling to put food on their own tables. Among the support that they provide, they ensure a personalised approach with the provision of food hampers, care packs, prepaid visas, local store vouchers, stock feed and hay.

Rural Day Off is one of their initiatives that invites farming families to a day off their properties. They have a whole day to socialise, feel valued and reminded they are not alone. Mental and emotional wellbeing are an important part of healthy farming communities and the Rural Day Off helps provide some time out in a relaxed and friendly environment.

So this Thank You Thursday, we say the heartiest thanks to the founders of these two wonderful organisations and the work that they each do in supporting farmers.  But perhaps the biggest thanks should go to the Aussie farmers who work so hard, day in, day out, for their entire lives to grow the crops and breed the livestock that help feed our country.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

 

Thank You Thursday: Less Plastics, More Boomerangs

On the weekend, Western Australia and Queensland introduced state-wide bans on thin plastic bags, joining Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania and South Australia – who was first to ban the bags almost 10 years ago now. We’re hoping Victoria and NSW will follow suit soon as some of the biggest retailers also introduced national bans. Billions of single-use plastic bags are given out at major retailers across the country and millions end up in landfill, or damaging the environment in other ways.

There’s been one little non-profit that has been working to reduce plastic bags for a few years, and with these recent bans, things are really heating up for them. Boomerang Bags works to reduce the use of plastic bags by engaging local communities in the making of Boomerang Bags – community made, using recycled materials.

Businesses and shops in towns and suburbs across the country have been introducing Boomerang Bags in the hundreds. The idea is then that customers treat them like boomerangs, using them to take their purchases home and then bringing bags back to the store another day.

Boomerang Bags began on the Gold Coast in 2013. Two locals, Tania Potts and Jordyn de Boer, wanted to do something about reducing the number of plastic bags in their local beachside community of Burleigh Heads. Today there are hundreds of Boomerang Bag communities across the country and has expanded internationally now as well.

Boomerang Bags are a simple, yet meaningful way to connect with others in just four easy steps…

  1. Connect to a bag community or start your own
  2. Collect materials – scrap materials, old quilts, table cloths are great
  3. Make the bags – get together with your group and get sewing
  4. Put them to use again, and again, and again!

Have a watch of this short video…

 

While plastic bags are not the only problematic materials creating havoc with our environment – and most notably sea life such as fish, whales and turtles – reducing the usage of plastic bags is a great first step as a country we can do in reducing our waste. And it’s been so fabulous to have the team at Boomerang Bags – and the many communities of volunteers around the country – making headway with this journey.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Fish Community Solutions Hummingbird House

Thank You Thursday: A Home for Hummingbirds

Supporting a loved one with a life-limiting condition or through palliative care is hard on any family. It’s emotional and physically draining. But what about when the person with the life-limiting condition is a child? Your child. And in addition to supporting your one sick child, you must still love and care for your other children. And what about your job; what happens to that? How will this affect your financial situation? Sadly this is the reality for about 3,700 families across Queensland today.

And at the heart of one of those families, are foster parents, Paul and Gabrielle Quilliam, who about ten years ago fostered a little girl with a life-limiting condition. Among transplants and surgeries, they provided love and care, but the stress, emotional and financial, was great. They tried to reach out for support, perhaps some respite at a hospice, but no such place existed in Queensland.

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That’s when Paul and Gabrielle made the decision to do something to change that. And that decision would be the conception of Hummingbird House – Queensland’s first children’s hospice and only the third in Australia.

Gabrielle recently shared their story at a TEDx talk which you can view here:

Hummingbird House has been created to provide world-class respite and end of life care for children with a life-limiting condition and their families, and to help families discover moments and create memories to last a lifetime.

Despite its small size and fragility a hummingbird can be radiant and bright. Many cultures believe the hummingbird is a symbol of love, the lightness of being and the presence of joy. In many ways the hummingbird is representative of the children who will seek respite at this new facility with their families.

Hummingbird House will offer tailored stays for children with life-limiting conditions, their parents and their siblings. It will be a holistic approach for the whole family.

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Later this month, on Saturday 21st in fact, Hummingbird House will be having its housewarming gala as it gets ready to open its doors to the first families that will call it home. And this Thursday we say thanks to Paul and Gabrielle for their vision and leadership in making this possible.

 

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick

Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Fish Community Solutions

Thank you Thursday: Hearts and Smiles from Bali

This month’s #ThankyouThursday is one from The Fish Chick archives. In 2014, Bianca experienced a life-changing stay at the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage:

Arriving at the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage last month wasn’t the easiest of tasks, even my driver got a bit lost. It’s in south Denpasar, Bali, and not at all in a tourist area, so I knew I was in for an eye-opening experience.

Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Fish Community Solutions

The Jodie O’Shea Orphanage was established in August 2005 in loving memory of a young Australian woman who was a victim of the 2002 Bali bombing. It reminds us all that even out of the most tragic events, truly wonderful acts of kindness and humanity can blossom and bring light to the lives of many.

I was here for almost a week, and most of that time sharing a room with two other volunteers, and I’m happy to say, I was in the top bunk! (A place I haven’t spent much time for many years!) My first morning I was awake about 7am, and I could already hear the kids running around outside. It was a Saturday, but they were already up and about, getting breakfast and ready for school. Some had already left to get to school for a 7am start! The 70 children here range from two years old to about nineteen, and go to nine different schools in the region, attending school six days a week.

Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Fish Community Solutions

There are some really fantastic volunteers spending their time here, including one very lovely young woman I met, Lauren, who is from London. Every afternoon from about 2-5pm they have activity time, organised by the volunteers. Some days we did arts and craft activities, including making masks, and other times we played games and even did some musical activities. Each day, the children have an hour of reading time, spent enjoying both Indonesian and English stories and, on a rotational basis, with an English tutor also.

The kids here are beautiful. Well looked after, they are given three nutritious meals a day, plus vitamins, and an environment that really is just like a big family. (Or an enormous family – with 70 other siblings hahaha.) Even the older kids that have left in recent years and started working come back to visit on the weekends, often staying over on the Saturday night. Like all siblings there is occasional bickering and tears, and often it’s the teens that are stepping in to sort out the younger ones.

Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Fish Community Solutions

I’ll be honest, my time at Jodie O’Shea’s was somewhat challenging, but an experience that while short, will stay with me forever. It opened my eyes a little more and confirmed that while there is hardship there is still much kindness in our world.

So this Thank You Thursday, I’d like to give a big shout out to everyone at the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage. Thank you for welcoming me during my stay. Thank you for the love and support you provide to such beautiful children. And thanks, most of all, to the kids who showed me that with big hearts resilience can always have a big smile.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.