Pyjama Angels play an important role in the lives of children in foster care as teachers, role models and loyal companions. Meet four Pyjama Angels who say the experience brings them as much joy as the children they connect with.
FROM LEFT: Annette Bruder, Andrew Pangrazio, Steph Healy, Dennis Clark
Occupational Therapist Steph Healy has been a Pyjama Angel for just over three years.
“My cherub and I have a really good connection,” Steph says.
“We recently discovered we both have an Italian background, which we’ve been bonding over.
I visit her once a week to play educational games.”
Steph cherishes the moments when the child says ‘Can’t you stay longer?’ or ‘I wish you could come every day’. “It makes me feel like my spending time with her really makes a difference,” she says.
“I always leave my visits feeling happier and more energised.”
When psychologist Andrew Pangrazio moved to Townsville seven years ago, he looked around at various volunteer agencies.“Pyjama Angels won out as, not only did they work with children but, they also treasured the educational and attachments aspect of childhood,” he says.
“My child is very hands-on, so reading revolves around instruction manuals and games.”
Andrew says it’s the small things he treasures about the experience, such as a smile when he arrives or hearing about an achievement in the child’s life.
“You don’t need any special skills to become a Pyjama Angel,” he adds.
“The organisation is amazingly supportive. Give it a go!”
When childcare worker Annette Bruder reached retirement age she wasn’t ready to stop working.“I was keen to fill my now free time in a meaningful way,” she says.
“I read about The Pyjama Foundation and was drawn to the premise behind it.”
Annette works with two seven-year-old foster children.
“The experience has given me a huge respect for the incredibly hard journey these children have just getting through life,” Annette says.
“The trauma they have experienced has a huge impact on their ability to engage in learning. It’s so important to spend consistent time with these special children.”
Originally from Canada, casual driver Dennis Clark migrated to Australia three years ago and is now a permanent resident. With two sons and five grandchildren, he understands how important it is for kids to have a positive role model.“I meet with two young men, one in Year 10 and one in Year 8,” Dennis says.
“I just help them with whatever they want to do – chess, dominos, reading, baking, playing games or running.” Dennis says the experience has made him more aware of how many kids are in care.
“It’s the most rewarding two-hour a week job I’ve ever had,” he adds
“Australia let me and my wife immigrate here and we love it. This is the least I could do in return.”