EMPOWERING and mentoring children to believe in themselves is one of the important roles of a pyjama angel.
For some people, like local volunteer Leonie Paton, it was a gift she was able to give weekly to two special children in the foster care system.
A national not-for-profit group, the Pyjama Foundation provides children in foster care with a mentor who visits them at home once a week.
Through the Love of Learning Program, volunteers called pyjama angels are matched with a child in care and spend just one hour a week focusing on learning-based activities.
Leonie said her role involved implementing a unique program that supported children in care to love learning, believe in themselves and achieve their full potential.
"I began my journey as a pyjama angel after a work colleague interviewed The Pyjama Foundation on a local community radio station," she said.
"I was a little apprehensive when l was placed with a family, as l was asked to work with two children in the family and although l wanted to do this, l questioned whether l was good enough to take on two children first up."
With a bit of encouragement and support, Leonie took on the challenge, which she said definitely paid off.
"My first visit was so amazing, l had two absolutely beautiful children and a family who just welcomed me from the very first visit," she said.
"Most weeks l wasn't too sure who was the most excited about our time together, the children or myself.
"It involves an hour a week if they need help with homework, read and give their carer that hour to breathe."
Although Leonie has just said goodbye to her two kids, she said their relationship had blossomed over time.
She said they would spend their visits together learning skills such as cooking, playing educational games, engaging in quiet time, and just chatting to each other.
"Saying goodbye was bittersweet," she said.
"But what I received from my two kids far outweighed what I gave to them.
"I feel the most positive thing a pyjama angel can offer is their time, love and support to the children they are placed with."
In the Bendigo region, there are currently more children waiting for a pyjama angel to come into their life.
Leonie said she has seen many kids in the community who would benefit from a positive adult role model, but was surprised there were not more people doing it.
What I received from my two kids far outweighed what I gave to them.Leonie Paton
"It's such a beautiful thing to volunteer with the thought of helping and supporting someone," she said.
"(It is an) even greater thing to realise that the children you are spending time with give you so much more in return."
Leonie hoped by sharing her story, residents would become aware the important work pyjama angels do in the community.
She said the foundation was looking for more volunteers.
"It's desperately important to volunteer because Victoria is quite small with the number of volunteers we have," she said.
"There are a lot of young people getting on board to do and seeing the need and how important it is."
The Pyjama Foundation will be holding a training event on Saturday May 29 and hopes to get more members from Bendigo involved.
For more information or to apply to become a mentor to a child in care visit here.
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