ALWAYS OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
The names have been changed to protect the identities of the children. Two of these case studies relate to children, we helped through the Be An Elf Christmas Appeal.
1. Two of the ‘Be an Elf Xmas Appeal’ letter donation recipients in 2015 were Kimberley and her brother Jay, who have had a very troubled upbringing. After years of neglect, they were taken in by their grandmother, but when she died in a car accident, they then found themselves on the streets. As you can imagine things quickly began to unravel. Be An Elf Ltd, after meeting these children through the ‘Be An Elf Xmas Appeal’ was able to assist them to find a safe home, along with specialised emotional care. We can do wonderful things, but we rely entirely on private donations to keep our doors open, and our young people urgently need your help to break the cycle of hopelessness.
2. Be An Elf Ltd is making a huge difference, out there in the local communities, along with our donors and volunteers. Take the wonderful case of a little boy called William, for example. When William was ten, his idea of paradise was eating a delicious meal of potato bake and pork chops, which he naturally put on his Christmas Wish list. A generous elderly lady, who lived alone was moved by his Santa letter, so she baked and froze multiple bags of potato bake for William. She brought it in to our Be An Elf Ltd Beenleigh Community Centre, just before Christmas and began to unload her car. Unfortunately, the potato bake and pork chops were frozen. We had to tell her that William’s family were living in their car, which was most often found in the local parks, (councils will only permit vehicles to remain in parks for 3 days and then they must move on). She went home and returned with an Esky full of freshly cooked potato bake and chops, with the additional commitment to return every few days with refills. Over the subsequent year William enjoyed many of his favourite potato bake meals and the older lady got to meet William’s family and start a lasting friendship. The payoff is that the family eventually found somewhere to live with our help and are now getting back on their feet. The lovely lady is additionally the newly housed family’s adopted Nanna and an important part of their lives.
3. The brothers Rhythm and Lyric were homeless children. We can use their first names because we have parental permission, and they are one of the success stories in our programs. At the time, we first met them, they had been noticed by the principal and we were alerted that they may be ‘at risk’. They were living in a car and their parents would spend a great deal of time outside the school. Firstly, the parents were asked to volunteer at the school canteen. We found out the father had been working and they had lost their house, because of an inability to budget and problems with short term money lenders. As an example, they only ate takeaway food and lived a lifestyle of immediate gratification. Rather than spending time at the park with the kids, if they saw a $50 toy, they would buy it. They lost everything. They then went on to Centrelink Newstart payments. Their church tried to help, but it was unable to help them solve their problems. They would stay at people’s places, but this was a short-term solution, that never quite worked out. We sat down and really talked to them at a Macdonald’s Xmas party and brought them into one of our programs designed to rehabilitate families called The Friendly Elf Linkups Program. They stayed with a family, we introduced them to, which still had drug issues, but as a sharing family, with a conscience decided to help them. We worked with them on budgeting and designed a plan, which forced them to save and made them place money in an account, that they could not immediately access. We worked with them on meal plans and gave them a cookbook called, “How to feed a family of 4 on a $30-week budget.” They were able to get the rental deposit on a house and for 6 months paid $150 a week. In 6 months, they were back on their feet and they have stayed that way. They have now put a deposit on their own house and actively assist other families in our family programs.