Melissa’s donor story

Published on 04 Jun 2019

I’m on the Establishment Committee of the Waikato Women’s Fund and one of its proud weekly financial contributors.

Most importantly, I am a mum to three beautiful children. My daughter Eden is 17 and in her final year at Hamilton Girls’ High School – my old stomping ground. I was 18 and in my first year at law school when I found out I was pregnant, and it is crazy to think that I have now been a parent for nearly longer than I wasn’t a parent! More about that story below…

I am also mum to Blake, who is turning three this year (just a small gap between babies!), and my wee daughter Estelle. If you came to our launch at The Meteor last July, I was the heavily pregnant one – nothing like a baby-due date to put the pressure on to get the Waikato Women’s Fund launched!

Becoming pregnant at such a young age has shaped me and my life more than anything else I’ve experienced. I had just finished my final year of high school and was halfway through the first year of my five-year degree in law and political science when I found out I was expecting. It was not in my life-plan to have a baby at such a young age, but ‘life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’, right?

At 19 I became a single mum to my beautiful daughter Eden and it definitely wasn’t an easy road. My life changed almost overnight. I was fortunate to have great family support and lots of cheerleaders encouraging me as a mum and as a student. When Eden was 11 months old I returned to law school part-time and then did summer school every year to catch up on the time I’d missed, finishing my double degree when Eden was five.

I experienced the world in a whole new way. While I had immense support, I also found myself being judged by people in a way I never had been before. I was a teen mum; I was a single mum; I was on the DPB. Apparently, these labels give people the idea they have the right to make assumptions about you, to see a problem rather than potential.

Sometimes there were weeks when I wasn’t sure if I could pay all my bills. There were phone calls to IRD crying when my child support money wasn’t paid. Like most solo parents, my love for my child and my sense of responsibility to use the opportunity provided by both the state and my immediate support system kept me going and allowed me to climb out of that place.

Fast forward 17 years and here I am as a keen member of the Waikato Women’s Fund. Not everyone has the same support I did and I want to do my bit to help other young women who might be in a similar situation to the one I was in, or who just need some support from their own array of cheerleaders!

That is the beauty of the Waikato Women’s Fund – one day we may be on the receiving end of some generosity and the next day we may be the one in a position to help. I love the concept of the Fund – that my bit, together with your bit, together with everyone else’s bits, creates something even more powerful than we could do on our own.

I don’t want the Waikato Women’s Fund to just be for a certain type of person with a certain level of wealth – I want young girls to hear about what we are doing and think “I am going to put some pocket money into that!”.

I am passionate about empowering women, particularly young women, and I wanted to find an ongoing way to address the concerns that matter to me, but it was difficult to know where to start. The Waikato Women’s Fund makes that easy.

This is a cause close to my heart. Come and join me on our journey and help girls and women across the Waikato.