‘I will never for­get the help they gave us’

North Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - TORIKA TOKALAU-CHAN­DRA

Five weeks af­ter giv­ing birth to her sec­ond son, Julie Park felt like her world was cav­ing in.

Her new­born, Thomas had to un­dergo life-sav­ing surgery in March af­ter a sim­ple cold turned into com­pli­cated pneu­mo­nia.

She also had to worry about her 1-year-old son Matthew who was at home with his dad, and how they would get through with­out any de­cent home-cooked meals.

Park, 41, strug­gled to keep things to­gether. That’s when Bel­ly­ful West Auck­land came to her res­cue.

Bel­ly­ful is char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tion that pro­vides meals to fam­i­lies with new­born ba­bies and fam­i­lies with young chil­dren deal­ing with se­ri­ous ill­nesses.

Peo­ple can nom­i­nate them­selves for a meal, or nom­i­nate other friends or fam­ily. Bel­ly­ful also gets re­fer­rals from health pro­fes­sion­als like Plun­ket and mid­wives.

Park nom­i­nated her­self af­ter Thomas was born and was de­liv­ered three meals, no ques­tions asked.

‘‘They dropped around the meals and even checked up on us to see how we were get­ting on,’’ Park said. ‘‘I will never for­get the help they gave us, at a very dif­fi­cult and stress­ful time.’’

Bel­ly­ful West Auck­land, one of 18 branches of Bel­ly­ful NZ, was es­tab­lished in 2011. In 2016, Bel­ly­ful West Auck­land de­liv­ered nearly 1000 meals to about 300 west Auck­land fam­i­lies. This year, it has cooked nearly 500 meals and de­liv­ered 380 meals to 126 fam­i­lies.

‘‘Meal­times can be tough,’’ Bel­ly­ful West branch co-or­di­na­tor Claire Bur­ney said.

‘‘It’s about sup­port­ing fam­i­lies through dif­fi­cult times like hav­ing ill­ness or jug­gling a new­borns needs, re­gard­less of their fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion.’’

She said they have had new mi­grants reach out to them, women suf­fer­ing from post-natal de­pres­sion or cop­ing with mul­ti­ple births or pre­ma­ture ba­bies.

Other times it’s been fam­i­lies with young chil­dren who have been struck with a sud­den tragedy. Bel­ly­ful West holds a ‘cook-a-thon’ ev­ery six weeks at the Te Atatu Bible Chapel. Vol­un­teers cook at least 120 meals of lasagne, mac­a­roni and cheese, bolog­naise and tomato and red lentil soup. They are packed and stored in fridges in New Lynn and Te Atatu un­til a re­quest for de­liv­ery was re­ceived.

TORIKA TOKALAU-CHAN­DRA/STUFF

Hai­ley Howlett, left, and Claire Wescott-Jones pack the meals for stor­age in fridges at New Lynn and Te Atatu.

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