20 October 2022

When Ronda Amende was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2013 and given 12 months to live, an offer from a generous work colleague changed her life.

The work colleague offered Ronda and her family some time away in their holiday home on the hills of Lake Taupo. Ronda described the experience with her family as a unique opportunity to ‘build your energy levels back up again, after they had just been thrashed’.

‘When we went away, we didn’t actually talk about it at all, and that was surprising to me. We just had fun and spent time together. Being away from home actually let you have a release of it [the tension and stress] for a little while,’ said Ronda.

Ronda came to realise that the time away with her family allowed them to create positive memories together during a time that was littered with uncertainty and grief. This experience is what sparked the idea and subsequent birth of the TimeOut Charitable Trust.

TimeOut is a New Zealand not-for-profit charity, providing holiday home experiences to terminally-ill patients and their families through connections with generous home owners from around the country. Speaking from her own personal experience with terminal illness, Ronda emphasised ‘of all the things you do at that time, spending time with your loved ones is the most important.’

TimeOut acts as an intermediary between the holiday homeowners and terminally-ill patients. Patients can apply for a stay through TimeOut’s website and any suitable holiday homeowners will be sent a request for consideration. After approval from the homeowner, TimeOut puts the two parties in contact to organise the finer details.

Terminal illness is an issue that affects many families and individuals. While the number of people diagnosed with a terminal illness is not reported in New Zealand, TimeOut has undertaken research to shed light on the scale of the issue on our shores.

‘We estimate there are over 20,000 people diagnosed with a terminal-illness in New Zealand every year. Whilst there is no data available, we have based our figure on statistics from the UK and extrapolated this for New Zealand’s population size. This figure could be much higher for our Māori and Pacific Island populations,’ continued Ronda.

Ronda emphasised how much these experiences mean to the families of terminally ill patients, as well as those families who kindly donate time in their homes.

We receive a lot of feedback from both the terminally-ill person or the family, saying “we didn’t realise how much we needed this.” ‘We also get feedback from the holiday homeowners about how much it has meant for them to be able to help.’

TimeOut has a number of pro bono partners who help them achieve their vision by providing professional services to the charity at no charge. Ronda spoke briefly about the importance of these relationships.

‘Pro bono partners are incredibly important being a shoestring charity. We want everything to be done professionally, and that includes obtaining proper legal advice as well as having proper accounts prepared, which we don’t have the resources to be able to pay for.’

TimeOut, while currently focusing on the journey through terminal illness, is looking to expand their vision to help the families of those that deal with terminal illness from start to finish, including the mental health ramifications it may have on those affected.

‘I’d like to see TimeOut become the place that people are referred to, to help support the whole whānau group as they go through the journey,’ Ronda added.

If you would like to help TimeOut with their vision, there are several ways to help:

  • if you have a holiday home which is not used for parts of the year and you would like to donate some stays,
  • donating cash to the charity via the website, or
  • simply going to the TimeOut social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) and following as well as sharing and spreading the word.

To see more about TimeOut and their amazing work please visit their website at https://timeoutnz.org/

Nexia New Zealand is proud to support TimeOut in providing terminally-ill patients and their families with lasting memories and life-changing experiences.

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