SUPPORTING TEENAGERS WITH EDUCATION, MOTHERING & MENTORING
Our current Twenty Five to Strive campaign is raising money for Quota International Coolum and one of the wonderful and incredibly worthy benefactors for these funds is Lily House.
Lily House is a live-in situation where comfortable, clean and peaceful surroundings are provided for young pregnant women needing housing as well as support and assistance with life skills.
Lily House also offers one-on-one counselling, group therapy, opportunities for learning practical or vocational skills and parenting courses.
We caught up with Mary Ann from Lily House who runs the organisation to ask how her organisation is helping to embrace and elevate the girls who come into their care.
How long has Lily House been operating for and how did this come to fruition?
Lily House has been operating for 11 years now.
It came about by 2 couples had the same vision when they were seeing the number of homeless young mothers here on the coast with no hope and future. They believed they were a part of the answer or solution so they did something about it.
What is the most satisfying - and the most difficult aspects of working at Lily House
There are many satisfying parts of my job, just a few are;
Seeing the mothers go from being unsure and scared to feeling relaxed and confident and seeing happy babies.
Seeing mothers enjoying their babies and this special time in their life.
When you see the girls transition back into the community and seeing them and their children flourish.
Seeing people in the community giving and wanting to fundraise for us and want to help.
This gives me hope for the future.
The most difficult aspects;
Being unable to help the many mothers who don't fit our demographic due to our housing criteria and having to turn them away, not knowing where they will stay that very night, or how they can mentally manage while being in a vulnerable situation.
Seeing a large number of women fleeing domestic violence, and by the time they leave, it’s usually at a critical point. Often they leave when the baby's life is at risk. They generally stay when it's only their own life - as they are often so belittled and feel that there is no way out.
Seeing them having to go stay in dysfunctional environments because of the lack of safe accommodation.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to a young mum who feels like she is struggling?
If she is struggling with the environment she is in:
- Stay strong don't lose hope
- Find a trusted person to tell
- Get professional help and plan your exit.
- Reach out as there is help out there, and don't give up.
Has the work at Lily House changed the way you look at life/people?
Yes, you cannot help but be changed when you work at Lily House.
We all have the ability to make a change for the better. Life is precious we all matter, we can all be a part of making the change. No matter what a person has done or been through they are all valuable and can make a difference and often the people who have lived through tough struggles are often the ones who make a difference when given the opportunity.
What do you think other people should know about Lily House?
We are a not for profit organisation we solely depend on donations for our funding.
We have a house and granny flat that accommodates 5 women, either pregnant or with their babies under the age of 3.
All our workers are volunteers, except for myself and one other lady.
We accept donations which need to be specific to our needs at the time, we post this on our Facebook page.
The best donation is money as it is costly to run the house, We do not own our premises so we do pay rent also.
We have a lady who applies for Government grants which we occasionally get and which does help a little.
We really need consistent sponsors and regular support. Every day is different at Lily House with new ladies and new challenges, which we try to assist them with.
The homeless population - especially regarding the vulnerable mums, is the community's responsibility, we are all responsible as they are our future.
We run internal workshops and refer to other organisations also depending on the need eg STEMM, Refocus, Salvation Army, Suncoast Care Nambour.
We try to create and model a home environment where unconditional acceptance and respect is displayed.
How can people get in touch with you if they would like to volunteer? What skills do they need?
We are always looking for volunteers.
We are also available on 0429504029
Skills required for volunteers?
The ability to listen and be non-judgemental. The ability to be flexible for when things unexpectedly change. Previous experience is not necessary but can be beneficial regarding empathy and understanding.
We are also happy to take University and training organisation placement students.
Would you like Lily House to grow or evolve – and if so how.
With community support and Government funding, the following could be achieved:
- I would like to see Lily House own our own safe secure house, home.
- I would love to see transitional housing when the girls are ready so they can move into secure gated units where the ladies can live safely and independently with their children.
- Proper wages for our specialised workers as they all work tirelessly and go beyond the call.
- With more staff and better housing, we could accept more girls and their babies/toddlers.
***4/12/19 UPDATE we are extremely honoured and proud to have donated $8525.00 to Quota Coolum this year!!!! Dresses that make change...
See the Facebook live here for the BIG CHEQUE.