The very wonderful Maggie Lloyd has been working with LLTF as a valued volunteer for the past 16 months, she fulfills the role of National Treasure Time Coordinator, looking after our Treasure Time groups around Australia, ensuring they provide a safe and happy environment for ‘little treasures’ to play together. We asked Maggie to tell us about why she volunteers and what it means to her;
How long have you been a Volunteer for LLTF and what is your role?
I have been a volunteer with Life’s Little Treasures Foundation for about 16 months now. I am the National Coordinator for their Treasure Time groups which are a playgroup/support group for families of premature and sick babies.
Why did you begin volunteering?
Fifteen years ago, I experienced the preterm birth of my firstborn at 27 weeks. She was a tiny 633g, was in the hospital for 4 months, followed by years of physio, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc. and there was no real support outside of the NICU and little in the way of resources to help us on our long and difficult journey.
I was lucky enough to meet some fabulous mums in the expressing room of the hospital and, through the days, months and years, we formed lifelong friendships of care, support and understanding. However, this isn’t the case for many families experiencing the traumatic NICU journey… So, when I saw a shout out on Facebook from LLTF for some help with one of their Treasure Time groups, I made an appointment to visit the head office in Hawthorn and walked out of there as the National Treasure Time Coordinator! The lovely group of ladies holding down the fort at head office certainly have a way about them!!.
Briefly, describe the work you do in your volunteering role?
As National Coordinator for the Treasure Time (TT) groups, it is my job to interview any new volunteers interested in starting up a new group as well as support our fabulous TT Coordinators who run our groups. We currently have nine TT groups in various cities around Australia as well as one group at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. I would love to see this grow over the coming years with more and more groups being supported around the whole of Australia.
Together with the LLTF team, I also recently helped run hospital morning teas in the NICU at Monash Medical Centre. Since I started in this role, we have hosted Christmas and Mother’s Day morning teas and have upcoming morning teas for National Premmie Day, Father’s Day and Christmas. These events are held for families who currently have a baby in NICU/SCN to enable them to meet other families going through a similar experience whilst having a cuppa and a chat as well as introducing families to all that the Life’s Little Treasures Foundation has to offer them as support on their journey.
What do you get out of volunteering?
I absolutely love being a part of the LLTF team! It makes me feel really happy to be able to help support our coordinators so that they can successfully run their groups and give support and understanding to the parents within their groups. The playgroups also provide a safe and happy environment for the ‘little treasures’ to play together, which is really lovely for the children who have experienced hospitals, medical intervention and possibly various forms of therapy for a lot of their early childhood.
Helping out with the hospital groups is my way of giving parents currently on their NICU/SCN journey, the critical information, resources and support networks available to them through the LLTF and its wider community. This assistance wasn’t available to me 15 years ago and I believe such support would have made a significant difference to how my husband and I coped with going through such a traumatic experience. I will help spread the word of the LLTF and all they do, in any way I can.
Do it! Do it! Do it! Volunteering for LLTF is rewarding on so many levels. The comfort and support which comes from interacting with the LLTF and all they have to offer, not to mention developing ongoing relationships with other families who have experienced similar situations, is invaluable.
Volunteers are a big part of our society in many different roles. Giving back to the community and helping to comfort or assist people in their time of need is personally satisfying and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about taking on such a role. It could be a couple of hours a week or a couple of days a month, any help from a volunteer is critical in maintaining the LLTF in having the resources to support these families in need.