Youanmi & The Butterfly Foundation

About the Founder

I have a daughter who has suffered with Anorexia Nervosa for over 15 years now. Initially I thought if I could just make her eat she would get better. But Eating Disorders are much more complicated than this. They are a group of insidious mental illnesses that devastate the whole family.

Early on in her illness, my daughter was hospitalised, for more months than not, over a period of about 2 years. She had to be placed under the supervision of a guardian for her wellbeing.  This was heartbreaking to me, when all I wanted was to be able to make her better. It didn’t take very long for me to realise that what I was trying to deal with was something I had no control over.

No amount of motherly love was going to fix this illness.

The best I could do was to keep telling my daughter how much I loved her and how important it was for me to have her in my life. That did not stop the feeling of hopelessness that consumed me.

What we do

About 8 years ago, this same daughter introduced me to The Butterfly Foundation. Then it was known as The Eating Disorders Association of NSW. My daughter was in hospital at the time when one of the wonderful Butterfly staff was there giving a presentation to the Eating Disorders unit. Over the years of her illness, my daughter had gained an understanding of my frustrations and feelings of helplessness and thought that it might help me to get involved as a volunteer.

I have been a volunteer for over 7 years. 

I now see that The Butterfly Foundation has so much to offer in assistance for all those who suffer with an Eating Disorder but they are held back by lack of funding. Every donation The Butterfly Foundation receives is spent on extremely worthwhile projects, but general donations that are used immediately are only a bandaid strip.

My vision is that, alongside the general donations, there needs to be a corpus fund that continues to grow, where the interest derived from this capital, is used for making the longer term projects happen (such as paying staff to man a 24hr helpline or provide more support in country areas).  The federal government has been forthcoming with funding in this area now but this expires in June 2015 and the government has not committed for future years. I feel it is important for The Butterfly Foundation to work towards financial independence and I believe a capital fund is the way to do this.

My Vision is to build this corpus.  I know that this will make a much better future for The Butterfly Foundation and the assistance it gives to sufferers and carers of loved ones with Eating Disorders.

Our Achievements

The Sydney Community Foundation is helping me to achieve this vision by acting as the facilitator of the Corpus fund I have set up. (This fund is called Youanmi Fund.)  They have given me the platform that allows me to get on with building the Corpus without having to worry about the management and administration of the fund.  This simplicity suits my needs and I have found very like minded people within this organisation.

For the first 3 years the Youanmi Fund gave a grant to the The Butterfly Foundation to enable the employment of a part time administration officer. This proved hugely beneficial to Butterfly because not only was the office now run with efficiency and consistency but the psychologists and counsellors were able to concentrate on what they do best… give support to the sufferers and carers. Then I realised that I was using the capital faster than I could replenish it and so I had to rethink how I was going to best help The Butterfly Foundation in the long run.

What next?

My initial goal for this fund was to raise $2 million. As an example – the interest earned on $2 million would be around $120,000 probably enough to be used to employ at least 2 part time staff.  I know that is nowhere near enough in the long term but, for me, it is a more achievable goal to take it in small steps.  I am well underway towards this goal – with about $500,000 to date – most of which has come from my own finances. There is still a long way to go and I have realised that I cannot do it on my own.  This is why I am taking this fund to the community. With your generosity to the Youanmi Fund, we will be even closer to my initial goal.