MORE than 120 corporates raised more than half a million dollars – or an average of $4,170 each to help combat the homeless situation in Queensland.
The 2011 St Vinnies CEO Sleepout at Suncorp Piazza saw Treasurer Andrew Fraser, shadow treasurer Timothy Nicholls, Merlo Coffee Founder Dean Merlo (pictured, courtesy of Vinnies), Brisbane Bronco CEO Paul White and Ipswich City Council Mayor Paul Pisasale hit the streets to raise awareness and vital funds for homelessness.
Kenlynn Properties representative Scott Flynn was crowned top fundraiser of the event, with a personal $34,995 contribution. He was followed by coffee king Merlo who raised $31,500.
It’s the second time he has participated in the event which he says is an opportunity for people with homes to experience what it’s like to be homeless first hand.
“Even though it’s only for 12 hours, it’s one of the most life changing experiences I’ve ever had. Imagine facing the world every day with no roof over your head – how could you prepare yourself for life or to find a job?” he says.
St Vincent de Paul Queensland CEO Peter Maher was overwhelmed by the generosity of those leaders who rose to the challenge.
“I’m overjoyed by the level of support, both financial and in-kind, that our leaders have shown us overnight. It was a cold evening in Brisbane, but that didn’t deter the charitable men and women from experiencing what it’s like to live on the streets,” he says.
“It just goes to show how powerful our corporate leaders really are at putting an issue such as homelessness on the agenda and to making a real difference to a cause.”
He says the $520,000 raised will go towards the charities services throughout Queensland, which include supported accommodation for people at risk of homelessness, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, food distribution, low cost food outlets and child and family support.
“Right here in Brisbane, homelessness is a real issue and at last count, 2070 people in the area could be considered homeless,” says Maher.
“Today the crisis is far greater following the natural disasters in Queensland, which affected 30000 homes.
Although the Sleepout is over for another year, Maher says there’s no time to be complacent.
“We can’t afford to let anyone slip through the cracks, so we’re relying on the continued support of business and community leaders to keep homelessness on the agenda and to ultimately help us to put and end to this issue for good,” he says.
The CEO’s spent the night in conditions no more comfortable than those living on the streets with just a couple of cardboard sheets to soften the hard ground, a sleeping bag and a cup of soup to keep warm.
The event was held simultaneously in all capital cities across Australia, with a total of $4 million raised for St Vincent de Paul Society services nationwide.