Stacey Dodge's Birthday Wish

Stacey Dodge’s 40th birthday dinner invitation to her 40 girlfriends was compelling and one that they couldn’t refuse. She ‘begged’ her friends, the same people who were supporting her as she struggled with grief after her beloved sister’s tragic death, to refrain from buying her a gift. Stacey told her friends she needed nothing and wanted them to use their gift money to support women who were trying to rebuild lives after fleeing family violence.

“I do not want or need anything but there are many women and children out there who are in desperate need of a safe space, food and clothing,” she wrote. Stacey was referring in particular to the women who come to McAuley Care’s safe house, where she began working as a volunteer 18 months ago.

“Within the safe house, there is a Children's Program, which is the area in which I work. This program addresses the traumatic effect family violence has on a mother and her child, and helps children to process their experiences and express their feelings through art activities, play and conversation. In this time I have worked with so many amazing children who have had to leave their schools, friends, family, pets and homes to go into hiding to escape the violence.The children range in ages- most recently there was a lady who came with her three boys and one-day–old-baby straight from the hospital to us,” Stacey wrote in her letter invitation to her friends.

“During my time at McAuley I have worked with women from many backgrounds – Chinese, Vietnamese, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Kenya, Sudan, Turkey, just to name a few.Some of these women are permanent residents and many are not.Those who are not residents receive no government benefits and come to us with no status, no money, no support network and for many reasons cannot return to their countries. Coupled with dealing with the trauma of an abusive relationship, it is impossible to imagine how stressful that situation would be, but unfortunately there are more and more women we see in this predicament.”

Stacey’s friends knew about her work at McAuley Care and some shared her passion. But they were all moved by her invitation letter, and accompanying donation form, and responded generously. Our organisation received $3200 in donations from her friends.

Knowing her friends’ responded so generously is a lasting gift that Stacey treasures. Their generosity has made a difference to another woman’s life.

Stacey, who has three children, is currently having a break from her voluntary work at McAuley Care following her sister’s sudden death in Queensland a couple of months ago. But she is keen to return to work there with the staff she has befriended and the women and children who use the safe house.

“Working with the children who have suffered so much means giving them 100% of yourself and I can’t do that just yet. But I will go back because it gives me such energy and sense of purpose and it helps keep my life in perspective,” she said.

“It is an amazing place to be part of. It can be tough sometimes and you can’t help wondering when you leave some days what will happen to the children and where will they end up,” she said. “Whatever way we can help their mothers rebuild their lives, we have to do it.”