What the Aunties Did – July 2017

July was all about trips for the kids, meeting extraordinary humans and shopping.

Let’s start with the shopping – it happens in two ways. Auntie Jackie took nine women to the Aunties storage unit which we use like a shop, except that no-one pays for anything. People get to choose what they want from our donated clothing and linen and other supplies for themselves and their children. This month that included a mother choosing clothes for a little boy about to be born.

The other way it happens is that sometimes Jackie takes people to actual shops for brand new things. We used the “Geoff Fund” (you remember Geoff from Twitter, right? Geoff was accidentally very helpful) to take a teenage girl shopping for clothes that would make her feel good about herself. She and her sister have been through some dark times and, though she is in a safe environment now, you carry that with you for a long time. Jackie took Auntie Sonia and her daughter along on the trip to make it even more fun.

There is more to life than shopping, of course. There are also adventures. The Aunties took a whole bunch of kids and their mothers to Butterfly Creek which was amazing (they especially loved riding the train, and chowing down in the café) and there was also a trip to Stardome. Plus Jackie took two girls to the Auckland Art Gallery where they had THE BEST DAY EVER. Which has inspired them hugely, and also inspired us to approach National Art Supplies for lots of lovely arty stuff to keep at the refuges. There’s nothing like expressing yourself visually, and at least one of the girls is determined to be artist when she grows up so we’re thrilled to nurture this.

We have also paid for dance classes for one of the children, bought some baby clothes, and a new tyre, and paid for someone to sit her driver’s licence (she failed the first time, but passed the second!) and we will do that for another woman soon. We are going to pay for passports to make it possible for a couple of girls to go visit their uncle in Australia at Christmas, and we’re getting eye tests and glasses for a couple of people.

And Auntie Jackie took one of the women to lunch at the Botanic Gardens. Then there were the extraordinary people who gifted things to the Aunties. All of you who donate are special but here are three remarkable stories: A couple whose 3-year-old son had died got in touch because they wanted to donate all his stuff – clothes and toys – to the Aunties. Jackie met with the couple, and took the woman who would receive all his things with her so they could meet. I think you can imagine the kind of courage and generosity involved in both gifting and receiving a little boy’s things after he has gone. We are incredibly grateful to these lovely people, and honoured to find a home where they will be loved and appreciated.

We’d also like to say a very public thank you to Rose Jackson of “Glory Days” magazine who held an exhibition of Vintage Wedding Dresses at Highwic House and then donated the proceeds from auctioning off the dresses to the Aunties. Rose also organised a public event with “On The Rag” podcasters Alex Casey, Leonie Hayden and me called “What’s Love Got To Do With It” where we talked about weddings and feminism. With proceeds from that, plus the dresses, and a personal donation from Rose, the Aunties received $1500 which is magnificent.

And then there was the woman who intended to donate $70 to our givealittle page but accidentally over-donated – $670. That’s a big difference, right? But while we were trying to work out how to get the money back to her (givealittle donations don’t reach us until the month following) we got a message from her saying that it turned out her family were managing without that $600 and they would like us to keep it. Which is an amazing sacrifice and quite blew us away.

August now – more warm clothes needed, especially in bigger sizes. And reminding you all that we are holding a public SGM (in theory a Special General Meeting but we’re thinking of it as a Seriously Good Melonfarmers gathering) at the Fickling Centre, 546 Mt Albert Rd on Tuesday 8 August at 6pm. Expect asparagus rolls. And an explanation of “melonfarmers”. 

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