Winter’s here but a strengthened relationship between Turanga Health and Curtain Bank Gisborne means more Tairāwhiti families are getting help to stay warm.
Established in 2009 to provide made-to-measure curtains for people and families on low incomes, Curtain Bank Gisborne volunteers are always busy snipping, stitching and sewing to restock their shelves with donated curtains.
Families from all over the district are referred for upcycled drapes and curtains by Plunket, Women’s Refuge, Barnados and Work and Income. But the biggest referrer is Turanga Health. In the past 12 months 40 whānau have received new window coverings as a result of the bolstered relationship between the two organisations.
“We receive referrals from all over but Memory Taylor at Turanga Health has smoothed the way for our organisations to help each other out much more,” says Curtain Bank Coordinator Sharron Hall. “Sixty percent of Curtain Bank’s referrals now come from Turanga Health. Memory is just what we needed.”
Memory is Turanga Health’s Healthy Home Kaiāwhina. Healthy Home interventions include referral to health and social agencies, installing insulation and ventilation, and design improvements to houses. Support can be anything from curtains to draft stoppers, or in some cases, help with transferring a family to more appropriate housing.
Memory sees the culprits of a cold home as soon as she walks in. No curtains, draughts under doors, crumbling insulation, and expensive yet ineffective sources of heat. When she began her job 12 months ago one of her first ports of call was Curtain Bank in the Red Cross rooms on Palmerston Rd.
“My first impressions were ‘what a lovely group of ladies’. All of them giving up their free time to help the community. I wanted to be part of it.” Now, as well as a referrer, Memory is one of seven volunteers who sew curtains every Tuesday.
Once a referral is received complete with window measurements, it takes three to four weeks before curtains are ready for hanging. Memory will hang the curtains herself, or families will call in to the Curtain Bank to pick up their curtain parcel.
Sharron and Memory love the reactions of families. Memory says it makes her feel like Santa “The good thing is that all our clients are appreciative of anything they receive. It’s awesome. And it’s why I love my work. It doesn’t matter if there’s a patch in the fabric or if it doesn’t match the carpet - they are so happy.”
There’s only one problem. “We are always running out of curtains but never running out of needy families,” says Sharron. “Please donate your old curtains if you are refurbishing. We will be able to make something out of them. Don’t chuck them away.”
Anyone with old curtains, rods or racks, fabric or hooks, is encouraged to drop them to Curtain Bank Gisborne, Red Cross, 336 Palmerston Road, any day of the week.
A wee boy with a cheeky smile is a ray of hope for a Gisborne woman with heart disease whose father and brother died from similar conditions.
Maryann Koia, 31, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Porou, was diagnosed with heart disease in 2014 and now has an internal cardiac defibrillator.
With nephew Lorenzo as inspiration and a little bit of help from Tūranga Health, Maryann has chosen life!
THE years after losing the two most important men in her life: father Jack Koia in January 2013, and brother Tim-Kaui Koia in April 2013 were tough for Maryann Koia. Jack died from heart failure and Tim-Kaui died from the complications of rheumatic heart disease. In late 2014 Maryann received the same diagnosis as her father. She’s received care from the cardiology team at Hauora Tairāwhiti and tonnes of whānau support ever since.
But more was to come.
In an awful spate of circumstances Maryann’s younger sister Oasis lost her young partner Thomas Tipene to trauma and illness the same year. Oasis gave birth to their son Lorenzo just two weeks after Thomas passed away.
“There has been a lot of trauma and sadness in our lives,” says Maryann who lives with her mum, sister, and toddler Lorenzo in Mangapapa. “But during all the time we’ve had Lorenzo. He’s been the biggest part of my life and I get up every day just to be around him.”
Lorenzo seems unaware of the central role he plays in the family. Buzzing up and down in the kitchen on his three-wheeler and due for his afternoon nap, he is all smiles and chatter. During lunch time everyone takes turns helping him out with his kai and he clearly adores them all. Without him, they all say their world would be infinitely darker.
“He brings so much life and health into the house,” says Kathy. “The healing is continuing for us all. It will take a while, it’s been a long process, but we are back on track.”
Also helping Maryann get back on track throughout the challenges has been Tūranga Health, in particular whanau ora kaimahi (community support worker) Maria Samoa.
Maria has helped Maryann wrestle to stay well following her pacemaker surgery. Maryann joined Turanga Health’s fitness classes, learned more about healthy eating , and got help managing her medication. Maria has nudged Maryann along to important health and social service appointments and coaxed her into situations where she can meet more people. She’s always on-hand for Maryann to talk to when the going gets tough. Cutting down from 20 cigarettes a day to 10 with help from Tūranga Health’s smoking cessation programme has been the latest success.
“There have been some dark times for Maryann for sure,” says Maria. “I try and motivate her and get the most out of life. In the past, yes, it’s been a challenge just getting out of bed, but now she is a model client”.
Earlier this year Maryann, her mum Kathy, and Maria, formed a team for the Sport Gisborne Tairāwhiti Do It 4 U Triathlon. Kathy is an avid cyclist, and Maria has done the triathlon before, but for Maryann the event was unique.
“It’s normal in our house for mum to exercise, so I am sure it wasn’t my idea, but we did it!” says Maryann. They called their team Lorenzo’s Angels. “I enjoyed the experience, even if my pants were falling down as I ran towards the pool! The best bit was running to the finish line with Kathy and Maria.”
When asked what she wants out of life Maryann is adamant heart disease won’t define her. She’s sticking around. She would love to be able to do a small amount of paid work and have a family herself one day. And she wants to be at Lorenzo’s 21st birthday.
“Lorenzo has bought joy to our lives and I want to watch him grow. I love all little people but he’s special, he’s got my heart, he’s the nephew and moko that I want to live a long life for. I love him.”
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