Groupon changed the direction of my life. That’s not an easy confession to make. Apart from purchasing beauty salon vouchers (miles away but it’s a bargain) restaurant, hotel and other like vouchers, you can also purchase courses. I found one that looked interesting.

A government registered school for adult education to help us oldies get back into the work force.  Certificate IV in Frontline Management.  Well maybe it wasn’t so interesting but it was $29.00 so what did I have to lose?

But before I continue, I’d like to tell a little about me. I left Mount Scopus College (shown the door by Mr Ranoshy) at the end of Form 4.

I attended Prahran College of Advanced Education for two years where I didn’t learn anything except how to drink coffee in the cafeteria.

A year in Israel on the Shnat program followed.

On my return home I nearly completed the Susan Johnstone School of- g-d knows what- and aged 19, found myself working in the x-ray department at the (long gone) Prince Henry Hospital.  My late grandfather, who also worked there, would sit on the bench outside the waiting area and we would share his legendary chicken poulkes (legs) for lunch.

Fast forward a few years after a stint living in Surfers Paradise, an opportunity arose to train as a beauty therapist. I gave it a shot and pretty much bluffed my way through. Not content though to remain an employee, I decided it was time to open my own business and Top Coat Nails was born. Bookwork and bill payments not being my bag, I learnt the hard way after paying the same bill twice on many occasion.

A few years later the world was calling and I travelled through Europe, working as a GO at three Club Meds, in Eilat, and two in Mexico.  Not speaking Hebrew, Spanish or French, it remains a mystery to me how I landed those jobs.

I returned to Melbourne manicuring in my salon. Then out of nowhere I met my husband Gary, on a blind date.  No Tinder or J-date in those days.  We married in 1995.  We had our first child two years later and then followed a second. A miscarriage and then an Edwards syndrome baby ended any further attempts to increase our family.

I’d continued manicuring during this time but felt a vacuum in my life, hence the epiphany on Groupon. After completing the Management Diploma, I realized that I could study if I put my mind to it and looked to complete another course.  So I started a Diploma in Case Management.

Six months into the course the school closed down and 900 students, their employees and trainers were left in the lurch.  I already had an interview scheduled with Wesley Mission to perform my compulsory placement. I just didn’t have a course anymore. Fortunately, an independent company stepped in to help us finish our studies.

I got the job at Wesley Mission and was placed in the Foster Care – Home base section. I was the oldest duck in the department and worked with some really young people.  My computer skills were atrocious and I bluffed my way through.

I was working in an office, with my own cubicle and computer, completely out of my comfort zone.  I attended high level meetings with the Department of Human Services. I dealt with foster care home parents, schools and basically learnt the ropes of a complicated system. I shlepped kids to their counsellors, dentist and doctor’s appointments, to school and sometimes, I searched for them on the streets.  I met the most amazing children many of whom came from horrid family lives and heard stories that would curl your hair or straighten it if already curly.

Soon, my time was over and I said my goodbyes. But then I got thinking and came up with an idea. To lay the ground work, I needed to find out who in the Jewish community arranges foster care? How many Jewish children need foster care?  Where do I find these answers?  I needed answers.

I started with Jewish Care but initially, my idea wasn’t embraced enthusiastically. Coincidentally, a few weeks later, I attended a fund raising night for Jewish Care and there I found my way in.  I was introduced to the CEO, Bill Appleby, who appeared interested in my idea and asked to give him a call to arrange a meeting.

That meeting took place (in fact, there were a number of meetings with a number of organisations) with my secret weapon, an amazing woman, Lerisse Smith from Wesley Mission.  We handed them our proposal and explained how we wanted to create an awareness of foster care in the Jewish community. And I was given the go ahead: to create a Foster Care Awareness Forum.

And it’s happening next week. It will provide information about the different aspects of being a foster or respite carer. My aim is to establish a safe house for Jewish children to go when feeling unsafe at home. Never in a million years could I have predicted that this is what I would be doing now. And I have Groupon to thank.

Foster Care Awareness Forum: Thursday 14th April 7.30pm  Caulfield Park Alma Bowls Club 280 Balaclava Road Caulfield 3162

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