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.
Our vision is informed by the principle of empowerment – Whakamana– through Mana Atua – commitment to the wellbeing of women in grief through the community gift of time and resources. Te Whakapaukaha ki te whakatairanga i nga wahine me te pukatokato i roto i nga hapori o te wa me nga rauemi.
Our organisation is focused on bringing joy and support for those women who have suffered grief and loss. Our programmes are designed to bring a special gift to those who have attended our Pamper 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 basis nurturing principle of Mana Atua – wellbeing.
Our longer term goal is to take our programme to small towns and rural communities throughout New Zealand and have a wider inclusive range of participants. We also want to create pamper days for men as they too need nurturing when in grief. Discussions regarding this are currently underway.
It is our privilege to be able to assist our women participants and make a difference to them at a stressful transitional time in their lives.
The pampering days are based on the belief that if people feel better about themselves on the outside they will feel better on the inside. We provide hairstyling, make-up, manicures and hand massage. It is a wonderful opportunity also 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.
These days couldn’t be offered without the efforts of a group of volunteers, sponsors, supporters and many kind donations.
The Feeling Fab Foundation Committee:
- Elizabeth York
- Lionel Caines
- Lynda Schuler
- Brooke Murray
- Michelle Kennedy
- Tracey-Maree Houia
- Sheryl Moir
- Shereena Rolland
Mentored with many thanks by Deborah Wilkinson
Meet Our Committee:
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.