This is the 5th year I’ve been involved with the Vinnie’s CEO Sleepout.
You see, almost 10 years ago, I nearly became homeless.
I was unemployed, broke, and getting evicted. As if that wasn’t enough, my power was cut off.
Homelessness became a real possibility.
I made myself a promise, that if I ever made it through that period of my life, I’d find a way to give back to the homeless.
Fortunately, I did make it through.
I kept my promise and have been participating in the Vinnie’s CEO Sleepout for 5 years.
The CEO Sleepout is an annual event to raise money for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of finding themselves without a safe place to call home.
Every dollar raised goes to Vinnies’ not-forprofit services, which include food, accommodation, education, counselling, employment and health programs.
Each year, before lights out, Vinnie’s would organise speakers and panels for us to learn more about the issue of homelessness.
I heard stories from people who have been homeless, and with the help of Vinnie’s had turned their life around.
Last year was in Perth and virtual due to lockdown restriction. This year was at Optus Stadium, on the concrete at 3 degrees celcius.
.Apart from being absolutely freezing, it was a humbling experience.
The biggest reason I feel so strongly about this issue, is the number of children on the streets has increased every year since I’ve been doing the sleepout.
In just 5 years, the number of kids under 12 has increased from 12,000 to over 20,000 despite our fundraising efforts.
I find this situation just unacceptable.
There’s no point complaining or pointing the finger. It’s up to us to be the change we want to see in the world.
The other CEO’s that also participated on the evening are some of the most inspiring leaders in the business community.
It was a priviledge to serve in this capacity with such humble, giving people. Some were doing it for the first time, others have been sleeping out since it started 12 years ago.
Well done to Lonnie Bossi from Crown perth, who raised the most in WA, just shy of $80,000!
Aaron is a volunteer who runs the music program at Passages. He helps the homeless develop their talent, work ethic, mental health and self esteem helping them create music.
As a hip hop fan I recognised Aaron immediately, but there was no mention of his performing name (Bitter Belief) mentioned by anyone or printed anywhere.
He was there to serve period…. I couldn’t give you a better example of what leadership looks like.
Even though we were just out there for one night – you can’t help but become more grateful for what you have.
You can’t help but have more empathy towards those sleeping rough.
I am grateful to be of service, the sleepout is one of the most rewarding things I do each year. It’s true what Tony Robbins says, the secret to living is giving.
A special thanks to all at St Vincent de Paul Society and all the work they do.
It’s about time we removed the stigma attached to homelessness. It’s a complex issue that cannot be solved with simplistic, short term solutions. It affects people of all ages and backgrounds.
With a little bit of understanding, we can make a real difference. I’ll be back again next year, and I’ll keep coming back until we kick homelessness to the curb.
Even though the sleepout is over, you can still make a donation.