One of the best ways to understand Aunties and Uncles Queensland and what our program means to people is through sharing stories. In recent weeks we have been in touch with Rochelle; a former child with the program. Rochelle, now 27, has shared some of her lovely memories with us.
How did you come to be involved with Aunties and Uncles
I was 9, had two sisters and my mother was a single mum with no other family in Australia. It was hard for my Mum to be able take us out on expeditions and keep us entertained, so discovering Aunties & Uncles was fantastic for us. It gave my sisters and I an opportunity to have our own one on one time, and it meant we weren’t all fighting for attention.
Tell us a little about your relationship with your Aunty and Uncle.
Every second weekend was our time together. I remember the trips to the beach, the shopping, going to the local markets and going fishing with my Uncle. What really meant the most to me though was all the times we got to just be at home watching movies all night, listening to my Uncle play his guitar, baking cinnamon scrolls and playing with the dogs. I knew how much my Aunty valued me; how much she loved me. She and my Uncle always made sure I was comfortable and happy.
How has the A&U Program influenced your life as an adult/parent?
A&U had a huge impact not just on my life but on my sisters as well. I thank my mum for finding my Aunty and Uncle as I believe I would never have had the honour of meeting such genuine caring people who were a very special part of my life for over 16 years. I hope that the children of this foundation today bond the same way with their mentors as I did. It’s an amazing experience. It was definitely life changing.
How might your life have been different without A&U?
Without A&U I wouldn’t have had those special weekends away, creating our own memories and really starting a friendship – it’s a friendship that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Although Aunty Jet is no longer with us, our memories remain. She was my best friend and to have that kind of support really meant the world to me.
What is your fondest memory about Aunties and Uncles?
My fondest lasting memory would honestly be the relationship I had with my Aunty and the weekly, sometimes daily conversations that we would have over the years. Nothing in this world could compare with that. We also had the honour of Tim Horan taking on my sisters (Taryn, Kaitlyn) and I as his nieces. We had some great times with him, filming an episode of Australian story, creating a commercial for A&U, going to his footy games, cheering him on and spending time with his beautiful family. It was an amazing experience.
What would you say to people wanting to mentor?
Being a mentor brings the same joys as those of being a real Aunty or an Uncle. My Aunty Jet loved me the same way that I love my sisters’ children – my gorgeous 8 year old nephew and my beautiful 2 month old niece bring such love and laughter into a home. Aunty Jet struggled with cancer her whole life and to have a positive fun distraction from all of that really helped her through. So I believe that for whatever reason it is that you have decided to start this program you have made the right decision.
What would you say to parents who want to find a mentor for their child?
Going through A&U can only bring positive experiences for everyone involved. It gives you as an individual the time to remember that you are not only a mum or a dad but a human being. It’s important to have peace of mind that your children are enjoying themselves while creating memories of their own.