MERCURY SERIES - Making A Difference
When Victoria DiMise lost her soon-to-be mother-in-law to a mental illness in 2013, it made her want to do something to help others.
Exactly a year after losing Vera Bogovac, Ms DiMise, communications and marketing co-ordinator at the University of Wollongong Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, launched a small business at her home last week to try to make a small difference.
Mini Me Sweets and Gifts is a small enterprise that allows Ms DiMise to make cupcakes and other treats with love to raise funds for Suicide Prevention Australia.
She chose the charity because it aligned most with what she wanted to do to help others.
Ms DiMise said she and her fiance, Zoran Bogovac, would never know the reasons why they lost Mrs Bogovac but Ms DiMise wanted to try to help other people who suffered from depression and other mental illnesses.
"We've had good days and bad and lots of hard times because we miss her so much, but having such caring and supportive family and close friends has helped us get through those days," she said.
Now Ms DiMise wants to give back and that was why she launched her small business Mini Me Sweets & Gifts after months of planning.
Profits from the purchase of home-made sweets go to Ms DiMise's fund-raising page on Everyday Hero to support suicide prevention and awareness.
At her launch night, family, friends and work colleagues made purchases and donations and helped raise $466.
Ms DiMise has already raised $675 towards her goal of reaching $700 by the end of the year and described the response from so many people as "just fantastic".
"I have also contacted the Illawarra Suicide Prevention Action Network because I wanted to assist them in some way," she said.
"They have offered me some ways I can assist. This is where I want to focus my time and attention and raise some awareness about suicide prevention and what people can look out for in terms of warning signs."
Ms DiMise made choc-dipped strawberries and choc-decorated cherries for the business launch events.
She said they were her best efforts to date and that was fitting on such a special day.
Ms DiMise is known for supporting many charities such as the Cancer Council, KidzWish and the Leukaemia Foundation.
But Suicide Prevention Australia is an organisation she now wants to particularly focus on.
She said recent events made her realise how important its work was.
"I thought I would like to continue putting my time and energy into something really beneficial and having gone through this experience, I wanted to do something for Beyond Blue of Suicide Prevention Australia," she said.
"My mother-in-law was obviously depressed in some way. But I think because she was such a happy person for a lot of us, it did not seem she was depressed."
Ms DiMise suffers from food allergies and does not eat cupcakes which is why she also started making other sweets as well.
She said it helped her knowing she was doing something that was making a difference, even if it was only helping others in a small way.
"I found this was my passion," she said.
"I have had lots of up and downs and emotional days ... and I thought this was something I could focus attention on.
"It is something I enjoy doing and can use to give back and create something positive."
Ms DiMise thinks it is also helping her fiance, Zoran Bogovac, who often helps her out in the kitchen.
"He is really supportive," she said.
Ms DiMise will be taking orders online for the rest of the year.
But she will look to do some more fund-raising and awareness events in 2015.
After putting their wedding on hold late last year, the couple are now planning to get married in October.
Ms DiMise is also supporting the 2014 Big Cake Bake through Mini Me Sweets & Gifts.
She said for that fund-raiser, Mini Me Sweets & Gifts would be selling mini cupcakes and Cadbury choc-dipped strawberries.