Diane Guiney, a regular donor, reveals why she supports VMCH and how St Paul’s College has changed the life of her daughter, Lexi.
Di, tell us about yourself and family
DG: I am 44 years old and grew up in Tasmania. My entire family lives in Tassie, so we visit often. My husband, Patrick, and I have three children. Nick is 15 and in Year 10, Georgia is 13 and is in Year 8 and Lexi is 11 and in Year 4. I’m a physio and went to University in Queensland. I have worked in many hospitals, private practises and also in nursing homes. After our youngest child, Lexi, was born I decided not to return to work. Lexi faced many challenges as a baby with global developmental delay and an eventual diagnosis of autism. It was helpful for me to be home when she was young, so we could focus on lots of therapy.
You have been regular donor to VMCH since 2010. What is your connection to VMCH?
DG: Lexi attended St Paul’s College as a baby for early intervention. We were part of a fantastic music therapy group. We were referred back to St Paul’s for the bridging program. It was reassuring to know there were dedicated staff who could help us make the huge transition to school.
What inspires you and your husband to donate?
DG: We donate to St Paul’s College for many reasons. We feel blessed to have found such a wonderful school with dedicated staff who continually surpass our expectations. We have experienced first-hand the challenges that families face when you have a child with special needs. These families often experience financial and social disadvantage, so the support that our school provides through VMCH is invaluable. I’m sure anyone observing the work of the staff at St Paul’s would also feel motivated to contribute in some way.
Tell me more about how St Paul’s has impacted Lexi’s education and life.
DG: Lexi has autism and attended the bridging program to help her settle into her mainstream school for Prep. Lexi was extremely anxious and resistant to settling down for learning. The challenges facing her seemed insurmountable but the program at St Paul’s addressed a lot of her behavioural issues and taught us strategies to help with the transition. She has continued on at St Paul’s and Sacred Heart schools in the dual school program and adores both. Lexi has developed into a curious, happy, energetic child. There are challenges that we will always face, but her progress is inspiring.
How would you like to see your donations used?
DG: We’d love to see to further improvements to the grounds and classrooms. The bus service will always be a priority and is a lifesaver for many families. Although we do not use respite care, I would love to see this service continue for the families who do access it. Many of the children with special needs adore art, music and drama and flourish in these subjects, so it would be great if these areas were well-funded. The pool is also a wonderful asset to St Paul’s and we look forward to its redevelopment.
What would you say to other people considering donating or leaving a bequest to VMCH?
DG: I cannot think of a more rewarding or important way to give back to the community than donating to VMCH. Dealing with the challenges of a special needs child can be devastating and disabling to the entire family, but their quality of life can be improved through support. VMCH provide programs that ensure children and their families are not isolated and disadvantaged by their disability. Every child deserves to reach their full potential and feel an important member of our community.