Sisters of Charity Foundation Australia

How one special person helped a single mum transform her life

Mum-of-four Nicole turned to the COACH Community Mentoring program to help her deal with grief, stress, financial issues and a drinking problem after a death in the family… and wound up making a friend for life.

Single mum of four daughters Nicole was experiencing a period of intense stress in her life. Her beloved grandfather had passed away suddenly, and she made the snap decision to relocate her family to better support her nan. The logistics of moving a family of five with no adult help, plus seeing her daughters through an unwanted change of schools, led Nicole to experience intense stress, anger and hopelessness on top of her grief. Her drinking became a problem.

“It was one of the most stressful, depressing times in my life,” Nicole states. “My nan was alone all of a sudden and I just wanted to be there for her – but I shouldn’t have made a decision like that, literally on the day my grandad died. I was angry with myself for completely uprooting my life. I felt so torn, I felt like I had to move but it just felt so wrong at the same time.

COACH Community Mentoring program

After her grandfather passed away suddenly, Nicole uprooted her family to lend support to her nan.

“I spoke to the deputy principal at my girls’ school and let her know that I was struggling,” says Nicole. “One of my daughters was experiencing bullying and academic issues and it was really hard for me to deal with that on top of everything else.

“I was a mess at the time. The deputy gave me a pamphlet for the COACH Community Mentoring program and said it would really help.”

When you need a life COACH

The COACH Community Mentoring program, run by Lesmurdie Community Care, aims to empower disadvantaged parents of young children and build their resilience through mentoring. Parents may be struggling with unemployment, mental health issues, loneliness, financial stress, or family and relationship breakdown.

The program recruits volunteers, trains them to become mentors and matches them with families in need of support. Each mentor builds a relationship with their assigned family, acting as a role model and sounding board, helping them to achieve their personal goals and engage in community life.

A mentor becomes a friend

“I just clicked with my mentor, Dawn, from the start,” Nicole remembers with a smile. “She was really lovely, really easy to talk to, calm, good at listening, very non-judgemental – which was the most helpful thing. It was really good for me to have someone to vent to that wasn't actually in the situation.”

Nicole spoke to Dawn about absolutely everything she was dealing with; she was open and honest, and the two soon built a solid relationship. They spoke at length about mindset and positivity.

Nicole needed help with setting boundaries, improving her financial position, and finding activities for her youngest daughter to participate in. “Dawn taught me it was ok to not say yes to everyone all the time, to take time for myself,” Nicole explains. “I wanted to save money; she gave me books that would help. She recommended playgroups and community activities for my daughter, who has a ridiculous amount of energy!”

COACH Community Mentoring program

Dawn helped Nicole find free community activities for her youngest child to join.

How to change a life

Shortly after beginning the program, Nicole began studying a Certificate III in Business Administration online through TAFE. She managed to devote an average of 15 hours a week to the course – “There were lots of late nights studying when the kids were asleep!” – and already has a job lined up for when she graduates.

And the drinking problem? Long gone. “There was no such thing as just one, ever,” she explains. “For 15 years I’d been telling myself not to drink.

“Something just clicked one weekend, and I spent a couple of days googling all the bad things it does to your brain and body. I’ve stopped drinking completely now. I feel like myself again. I do not miss it at all.”

Her girls have settled in at their new school and made friends, and Nicole feels at peace with her decision to relocate. “At the time I felt everything was bad – but I can see now that it’s all happened for a reason,” she says. “I’m so, so happy now.”

And even though Nicole and her daughters are happy and settled, and Nicole is confident she can deal with any future bumps in the road, Dawn’s influence remains.

“At least every fortnight Dawn and I get in touch,” says Nicole. “I just really appreciate her being there through one of the hardest times in my life.”

How did the Sisters of Charity Foundation help?

Every year the Sisters of Charity Foundation provides grants of up to $15,000 to small organisations that use clever ways to fight poverty, loneliness, suffering and oppression. We were proud to give Lesmurdie Community Care a grant to help them expand the COACH Community Mentoring program and support more families in Kalamunda, WA.

Learn more about our Community Grants Program.

How We Help

Each year we’re able to make a difference to thousands of people across the country with funds generously donated by compassionate Australians. We support initiatives that focus on benefiting the disadvantaged, marginalised and socially isolated people in our community.

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