FEELING FAB FOUNDATION WAS FOUNDED BY ELIZABETH (LIZ) YORK AFTER HER OWN EXPERIENCE WITH LOSS AND GRIEF.
Having seen a desperate need in her own experience for love, support, even the comfort of distraction and pampering, she set out to do the same for others walking through bereavement.
Allan York had to make a long, late drive home to join Liz and their three young sons. They would then face a still longer drive, to the sudden funeral of Liz’s grandmother. But Allan’s car left the road and flipped into the river below.
The next morning, Liz had to tell her boys that their dad had drowned. “They screamed,” she recalls. “For months into years, the sound filled my head… Grief is a tunnel where you think you’re never coming out.”
Liz tackled her situation by becoming a grief counsellor. Today, some 20 years later, she is still helping other women to find their way out of the tunnel.
Feeling Fab, which Liz founded in 2013, hosts monthly pamper days for women in grief. The days include hair styling, makeup sessions, manicures, massages, craft tables, tea and lunch, all free. “When you’re grieving, you miss feeling like your old self,” says Liz. “To start feeling better, you have bring some joy into that grief.”
Each pamper day involves 20 recipients and 30 hands-on volunteers – “my Feeling Fab angels”, as Liz calls them. Recipients often return as volunteers, drawn back to the elixir of camaraderie, fun and healing created by the day. The greatest heroes, she adds, are those grief-numbed pamper day recipients who force themselves to arrive, only to feel too low to leave the car. Liz and her angels gently stop the ones who look set to drive away, and welcome all with cuddles.
Feeling Fab is a registered Charitable Trust. Our vision is informed by the principle of empowerment – Whakamana – through Mana Atua – commitment to the wellbeing of people in grief through the community gift of time and resources. Te Whakapau kaha te whakataiea nga Tangata me te pukatokatoi roto ingahapori o tewa me ngarauemi.
Feeling Fab Wellness Days are all about people who have experienced bereavement or loss having the opportunity to enjoy a day of being pampered. Our organisation is focused on bringing joy and support for those people who have suffered grief and loss. Our programmes are designed to bring a special gift to those who have attended our Wellness Days.
The word “pamper” is used to communicate to those in need an opportunity to be cared for, through a day of nurturing that renews the sense of self. Our programme draws on the nurturing principle of Mana Atua – wellbeing.
Our goal is to take our programme to small towns and rural communities throughout New Zealand and have a wider inclusive range of participants. We have recently extended our programme to include men and our youth, as they too need nurturing when in grief.
It is our privilege to be able to assist our nominees and make a difference to them at a stressful transitional time in their lives. Unfortunately grief affects all of us and mental health in New Zealand is at crisis levels, which we see through the tragic increase of suicides and depression in our country. Our wellness programme makes a huge difference to people’s mental wellbeing and positively affects their whānau and friends in the community.
The Wellness Days are based on the belief that if people feel better about themselves on the outside they will feel better on the inside. For the women, we provide hairstyling, make-up, manicures and hand massage and food. For the men, sharing and connection, a guest speaker and food. It is a wonderful opportunity to leave that blanket of grief at the door, to meet others who have had a similar experience, make new friends, and have a fabulous day. Our team have huge hearts and understand that those grieving need tender loving care in a safe environment.
THE FEELING FAB FOUNDATION COMMITTEE:
Mentored with many thanks by Gaylene Adams Love (Team Fusion)
PA TO CEO & NATIONAL CO-ORDINATOR
Bee has been involved with Feeling Fab since 2019, and was introduced to Liz, the Founder and CEO of Feeling Fab, by Vicki (owner of Love to Give Gift Boxes) who at the time was also volunteering her time to help Feeling Fab. At the time Bee was working four days a week and thought she could spare a few hours on her day off to help with ‘a little bit of typing.’ This has since morphed into quite a few more hours assisting Liz with all things administrative within the Feeling Fab organisation.
Bee says she enjoys the culture of caring, kindness and empathy that is at the core of the Feeling Fab programme and Wellness Days and she says she is blessed to work with the amazing team of volunteers, all who contribute in lots of different ways. Having lost her Mum to cancer six years ago, Bee understands that grief doesn’t go away, and having a space to talk about and share your grief, which is what the Wellness Days provide, is invaluable.
VOLUNTEERS CO-ORDINATOR AND CO-ORDINATOR FOR THE WARKWORTH AREA WELLNESS DAYS
Michelle has been working with the Feeling Fab Foundation for six years; her journey beginning with the Foundation in 2014 where she worked as Receptionist for Waste Management in Dairy Flat. Part of that role was to perform Secretarial and Treasurer duties for the Dairy Flat Community Trust. It was through these duties that she first met Liz, who was at the time accepting a funding cheque for her charity at Dairy Flat Community Trust presentations ceremony. Michelle learned the Foundation was in dire need of a replacement venue to hold their Wellness days in the local area. So together with Liz they were successful in securing the Waste Management facilities for the Foundations Wellness days. Michelle oversaw the opening of the facilities on these days and helped with set up and catering.
Moving further north to Matakana eventually in 2018 began to help with the Warkworth Wellness days at Tui House for Hospice Nominees. It was around then that Liz asked her to fill in the much needed position of Funding Applications Administrator and then eventually the position of Coordinator for the Warkworth Area Wellness days.
Michelle felt she personally did not have a lot to do with grief other than in her volunteer role. Then three years ago her mother, who lived in Perth, was diagnosed with bowel cancer and unfortunately passed away the following year. Michelle has said her volunteer work she does for the Feeling Fab Foundation has definitely helped her through these crazy last few years and has said it is hard to describe how much of a pleasure it is working with such a great bunch of Volunteers who give up their own time and abilities to help so many others in need.
She hopes to continue assisting Liz and the Feeling Fab Foundation for a great many more years to come.
GRANTS ADMINISTRATOR AND COMMITTEE MEMBER
Shereena has been working with Feeling Fab Foundation since 2013 in and around nursing
her Mum through cancer. Elizabeth and Shereena first meet in 2012 when they both
attended a Remembrance Day for Road Crash Victims in Orewa, there was an instant
connection with what both ladies had been thru losing a loved one – Shereena’s eldest
daughter was lost in 2011 in a car accident.
Elizabeth and Shereena have been firm friends ever since meeting at the Remembrance Day
– Elizabeth shared not only her personal story but of how she wanted to make a change and
support others like them going thru grief and trauma, both felt that they have something to
offer in love, support and understanding of this and so when Elizabeth started Feeling Fab
Foundation Wellness Day’s, Shereena came along as a Qualified Nail Technician of 22 years.
Shereena joined the team and worked it around her three young teen children, nursing her
mum until her passing, helping when able transporting animals and doing charity work with
several groups. Shereena also helps with other entities and has held many positions;
Secretary, President, Vice President, Funding Co-ordinator, Committee member, Examiner, Coaching at Pony Club not only at a grassroots level but also higher up at District and Area Level as well as running her own business, along with supporting other businesses with
website’s, digital media etc. Along with this, she has her own horses, dogs, cats, goat & chickens. Shereena also uses her animals for therapy with youths at risk as she is also a
specialist caregiver. She says the animals are amazing and so healing.
Shereena brings one of her dogs Eleshia along to the Feeling Fab Wellness Days as support
for the people who attend. She is a very special dog and picks up on what’s needed,
sometimes it’s just to let people pat her and other times it’s to let them hug her – a few have
gotten a surprise as Eleshia hugs like a human with both arms and paws wrapped around
But Shereena’s heart has always been to help Elizabeth and so the time is now right with her
own children being adults and with being a specialist caregiver to youths at risk helping and
supporting the Feeling Fab Foundation team is something she has time to do.
Shereena loves working with the team at Feeling Fab Foundation, she says it’s wonderful to
know we all have each other for support and that we all have so much to give at the
Wellness Days and are able to support and help others in their time of need – we all build
each other up and support those that need it.
Shereena hopes to be able to support Elizabeth and the team for many years to come and to
keep building the dream that Elizabeth has of doing this nationally in other areas of New
Hi there, my association with Feeling Fab Foundation began approximately seven years ago. I was nominated to attend a Pamper Day as I had lost a 50+ year friendship of a close friend and family member. The grief and feeling lonely was distressing. Being extremely nervous about attending on the day, not knowing a single person I arrived at the door and turned around to walk back to my car. As Liz was expecting me she saw this, she called to me and came running with arms wide open to give me the best hug I had had in a long time.
On the day, I met some amazing women with difficult situations living with pain from terminal illness, loss of their life partner, bereavement, traumas and grief. The many changes in people’s lives can cause many different types of grief and I realised that actually my grief was important to me, but compared with others I was blessed in many other ways.
After the day I was so grateful for such a positive loving experience I offered to become a volunteer, which is often how our amazing volunteers come on board with Feeling Fab. I offered to provide some catering for the Volunteer’s Christmas get-together soon after and pretty much became a committee member and the Catering Co-ordinator and I continue in this role today.
Ladies like me come to a Wellness Day mostly feeling a little out of their comfort zone, however, they soon relax under the care of our volunteers who shower them with fresh makeup, a hand massage, a hairdo, some lovely food kindness & love to feel safe. By the end of the day, these ladies are absolutely glowing. As a volunteer to see this happening under our care is the most rewarding experience knowing we have made a difference to someone’s life. That Pamper Day changed my life so very much. It gave me hope, joy & new long-lasting friendships.
I am very proud to be a part of this incredible group of women who make such a difference in our community.
FEELING FAB AMBASSADOR
I’m Suzy Heazlewood. I’ve been an Ambassador for Feeling Fab for seven years now. I also have an antibullying online forum called Suzy H Child Advocate Antibullying Foundation. The Feeling Fab ethos really resonated with me. Especially supporting those who may feel alone in their grief.
I’ve known amazing Lizzy for 32 years, so I knew her story and was delighted to be on board. What I love about the FF concept is the fact that it is creating a safe and warm environment for women and men to come along and share their stories (if they choose to) or just sit, relax and enjoy the amazing services provided to help them feel brighter on their journey through grief.
Everyone has a story and everyone’s story is unique to them. I also support by donating all proceeds of Suzy H 100% Pure Rosehip oil to Feeling Fab, by donating Suzy H products for use on the day, interviewing Angels and Guests about their experiences, if they are keen to, and spreading the word through the other events I am involved in. It’s a wonderful win-win situation, we all come away literally ‘Feeling Fab’ and uplifted.
I’m very proud to be a part of this wonderful initiative.
Love Suzy ❤️
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