Te Awamutu’s ‘muffin lady’ Jill Taylor is hoping more people across the region will volunteer to make muffins for mums at Waikato Hospital’s New-born Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Jill spearheads an initiative she started 11 years ago to offer mums at the unit a lunchtime snack. Her own new-born grandson spent six weeks in the unit 11 years ago, and she saw first-hand how difficult it was for the mums to access meals, particularly if they had no family or other supporters available to help out.
“There was a fridge there, but often by the end of the day, whatever they had put in there had gone,” she said. “There were women in the unit from quite far afield who had absolutely no family support.”
Jill stepped in. She started taking chilly bins of food into the unit, one to begin with and then three of them. She campaigned to get the NICU mums better supported in terms of food, finally succeeding in securing breakfasts and meal vouchers, and then enlisted several volunteers to make dozens of home-made muffins for lunchtimes.
There are generally around 40 mums linked to the unit through their babies. Jill started providing muffins five days a week, but for the past two years has extended that to seven days. That amounts to about 280 muffins a week.
She has three regular volunteer bakers in Hamilton, one in Ōhaupo and a few in Te Awamutu. Some supermarkets help by donating slightly shop-damaged items, but for the most part, the volunteer bakers supply both ingredients and time. The muffins are either delivered or collected, little baskets or bags of tasty treats, individually-wrapped and labelled.
“Some people make a batch, others do several dozen,” she said. Jill’s husband Alan Taylor, also known as the ‘muffin man’, most often delivers the batches to the hospital.
“They are always very gratefully received, and given the numbers we supply, we really need more volunteer bakers to help us. Those coming on board can make as many or as few as they like, and we can collect them if that is easier than delivering to me.”
Jill has lived in Te Awamutu for the past 15 years or so. She is known to advocate around concerns where she sees them and applies an equally high-energy approach to her muffin initiative.
Those keen to help should contact Jill on 027 415 4908 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.