New Idea, Australia – pages 10 & 11
Mums on a Mission … A group of eight big-hearted Sydney mums, with a total of 24 healthy children, have become entrepreneurs in an effort to help those less fortunate.
With full-time jobs and 24 children between them, Eileen Behan and her seven close girlfriends know only too well that it’s like to try and juggle their careers with the everyday demands of motherhood.
But instead of putting their feet up and relaxing in their spare time, the eight Sydney mums have banded together to form Mums on a Mission, an organisation aimed at raising money for The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, as well as for various other causes throughout Sydney.
“We all have healthy children an we know that’s not the case for everyone,” says 39-year-old Eileen who, along with her friends, launched the charity in 1997. ‘Because we all feel so lucky and grateful for that, we wanted to give something back.
‘We were sitting around having a cup of coffee and trying to decide what to do for the Melbourne Cup with all of a sudden, one of us, Ferial Youakim, slapped her hand down on the table and said: “Let’s organise something to raise some money for The Children’s Hospital,” and it just took off from there,’ Eileen adds.
‘Our kids all started school together and we’ve been friends for years. The mums are all different in many ways yet we have so much in common.
‘We all live close to one another and have different talents and skills so we decided to combine those skills o organise functions to raise money for charity and give something back to the community we live in.’
Every one of the mothers on the committee is vital to the important work being carried out by Mums on a Mission. And, laughs Eileen, given their demanding lifestyles, so are their husbands.
‘We’re always getting phone calls late at night and often have to head out at all house when we’re organising one of our fundraiser,’ the dedicated mother says.
But if anything, Mums on a Mission has brought the families involved close together, rather than creating problems between them. ‘If the men and our children weren’t behind us 100 per cent, we couldn’t do it,’ Eileen explains.
‘Institutions like The Children’s Hospital at Westmead serve a massive community. It’s important that they get every bit of help hey can because every cent is vital.
‘There are people out there with very sick children, who spend their lives travelling back and forward to the hospital and if we can raise funds to provide a vital piece of equipment, or something else to make those families’ lives a little easier, that’s the least we can do.’
Eileen maintains the main motivation for the close-knit group’s inspiration is their combined brood of 24 healthy, happy kids, who range in age from four to 16. But she says they have not completely escaped the cruel twists of nature’s lottery.
In 1995, the friends themselves rushed to the accident and emergency department of the Children’s Hospital on a heartbreaking personal visit.
‘My sister-in-law Susan Behan, who is also one of the Mums on a Mission, lost her baby son Thomas, who was a twin, to SIDS [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome].
‘Losing Thomas was a tragedy,’ says Eileen quietly. ‘But instead of it stopping us, it gave us even more of a reason to do what we’re doing.’
The Children’s Hospital will once again benefit from the efforts of a Mums on a Mission when they hold their Valentine’s Day ball at Le Montage in Sydney’s Leichhardt. And the Mums are hoping to raise at least $75,000.
‘It’s pretty hectic at the moment and we’re all pretty exhausted,’ says Eileen. ‘But when we hand over the cheque, knowing it will buy a vital piece of equipment or help someone in some way, I will have all been worth it.’
Not surprisingly, ask the mums what they do when they’re not fundraising, working or caring for their own kids and they answer in unison: ‘We sleep!’
By Julie Hayne – Pictures: David Anderson
The Valentine’s Day Ball will be held on Wednesday February 14 at Le Montage, 38 Frazer Street, Leichhardt, NSW. The tickets are $100 a head and include a four-course buffet, champagne, beer, wine and soft drink.
Above: Mums on a Mission with 23 of the 24 children. From Left: 1. Sandra Esber 2. Sabah Esber 3. Janine Malouf 4. Eileen Behan 5. Ferial Youakim 6. Lamia Wehbe 7. Susan Behan (not pictured: Denise Saad.)