Alicia is having a great day.

“There is a place here in Kempsey where you can get a big box of vegetables,” she explains. “I went down there today, got a whole pumpkin, and turned it into pumpkin soup. I took some into my elderly neighbours because I like to look after them. Then do you know what those beautiful people did? They went and bought me a glass baking dish as a thank you. That’s not why I gave them the soup of course, but what a good day.” 

 Alicia is a positive person who has brought her energy and enthusiasm to participate in Bamara’s ParentsNext program. She does have one complaint, however – Covid-19, and its impact. “I love everything we do at ParentsNext, and the groups are great, but when things are on hold because of COVID it really sucks! 

I’ve had nothing but good from Bamara. The Caring For Yourself course was excellent. I was already pretty good with computers, but I found the laptop course useful to fill me in on the things I didn’t know. Then, to be given the laptop was amazing. It’s not the sort of gift you get every day. It feels really great to know there is someone out there willing to help us. It’s rare that you get opportunities like this, and I love the way it helps with study and going towards employment.” 

 A deep interest in helping others has led Alicia to start studying in the areas of Aged Care, Disability and Community Services. “I’d really like to get into those fields,” she says.

I looked after my grandfather as he started to go into dementia. It was the hardest job I ever did in my life, but I would never have been anywhere else. All my life, he was like my rock. Because of that experience I’d love to work in that sector and see where it takes me.” 

Meanwhile, she is kept busy as a single mother of three children, including her two-and-a-half-year-old son (“He is awesome, and that’s the understatement of the century!”) and two teenage children who have returned to her care after “a long period of time. People ask me if parenting teenagers is easier than with little kids. I tell them it’s no easier, just different – and more hormones!” 

 Alicia grew up in western Sydney but moved to Kempsey six years ago. As a proud Wiradjuri woman, she is respectful and grateful for the opportunity to live on Dunghutti country. 

“My absolute favourite ParentsNext group was Art and Yarn. I absolutely loved itGetting together in a group of parents and little kids, learning all about Aboriginal art, it really brought my artistic side out. We painted a whole range of different things, made ceramic pots, clap sticks, painted rocks, and I didn’t want it to stop 

It doesn’t matter if it is pumpkin soup or an art treasure – Alicia finds ways to reach out to people and make them feel good. Bamara’s support of her open-hearted ability to make connections with people will result in significant benefits for the community. And if you ask nicely, she might even make you some pumpkin soup.