Message from our board chair, Chriss Mannix
The past 12 months have without doubt been incredibly challenging for everyone on so many levels. It would have been so easy to pack up, and put a sign on the door that says ‘closed until post-COVID’. But premature babies, like time, wait for no one, and families across Australia have needed us more than ever.
Losing our wonderful co-founder and CEO Shusannah Morris has been incredibly sad. Saying goodbye to her has impacted everyone: from the families we work with and our volunteers to our sponsoring partners. It’s left a hole in our hearts and within our Foundation a presence that can never be filled; instead I think it has had us working towards ‘our new normal’.
Despite everyone going through their own grief, I feel like everyone has asked ‘what would Shus do?’. And in true Shus fashion they have rolled up their sleeves and kept things moving – to fulfil what our co-founders set out to do in the first place: to be Australia’s leading support provider for families with premature and sick babies.
It’s with this in mind that I’d love to thank our interim CEO Karin Vosmansky who has kept things on track, our amazing team in head office who kept working (safely and within the guidelines) to ensure programs could be tweaked for digital or COVID-safe running, and our volunteers who have remained committed and consistent with their generosity. Shusannah brought the troupes together to lead another successful Walk for Prems event in 2019 raising more than $380,000.00 which played a crucial part in allowing the Foundation to carry on supporting families in 2020 and onwards.
Our biggest achievement for the year is to actually still be operating when many charities and businesses have had to close. This is not by a stroke of luck – it’s by the careful planning and financial management that Karin has practised from day one that means we will be OK. Overall, we have had significant growth in the number of programs we offer, as well as the outputs and numbers of participants.
Karen Peters, our Products and Services Manager successfully launched the Little Bag of Calm which has been a roaring success and has just completed its second print run. In addition, we are working with NIDCAP to start the Little Reader’s Read-a-thon of families reading to babies in NICU in hospitals around Australia.
Merryn Csincsi has continued to do a wonderful job leading our partnerships and sponsorships portfolio. In addition to ensuring we deliver to existing partners, and meet with potential new ones, she led the way for LLTF to receive a Seed of an Idea grant (Thanks to Seed Heritage). This will allow us to develop the next stage of our ‘My Colourful Journey’ series. This will be a colouring book for children developed to guide them through the emotions of having their sibling stay in hospital.
These one-off opportunities are hugely helpful to get projects off the ground, but we have been incredibly grateful for the long-term ones that continue to support us, even when they are managing their own challenges in how they run their businesses. Baby Bunting has continued to support us on so many levels, with the passion for our work so apparent in everything they do for us. In addition, we have continued our partnerships with Britax, Medela and Earlybirds with great success.
So that’s a wrap for FY19/20. Not an easy year but one where I really feel we have made an impact on many families. None of the above could have been achieved without the tireless work of our 75-plus quality volunteers and our interim CEO, Karin. We are all so grateful for your time, commitment, expertise and passion.
Thank you to everyone who has been involved with Life’s Little Treasures Foundation, from fellow board members, management, volunteers, supporters and suppliers to our families and friends who have been generous in their time and energy to support this cause.
Chriss Mannix, Chair Life’s Little Treasures Foundation
*Excerpt from Annual Report. Download available below.