Friends and families, our sincere gratitude for your support and encouragement for our participation at the Vinnies’ #CeoSleepoutAu this year. It has truly been a blessed eye-opening experience. Aside from the experience of sleeping out on a hard cement floor through a cold winter night, what touch us most are the stories of the homeless people. These are hallowing stories of abuse, despair and lost of dignity. But they are also stories of courage and of the indominable human spirit. At the sleepout, we met and heard from Matt Vapor, who through his youth and formative years, suffered domestic violence, lost of dignity, hunger, physical and sexual violence. Matt managed to turn his life around, completed his university degrees; and is today a successful business leader. Matt is able to channel his past traumas in positive ways, advocating and supporting social causes such as homelessness, domestic violence, mental health and addiction. But Matt’s struggle is not over. He continues to suffer from the many after-effects of his traumatic childhood and severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Matt posed this question to us on the night: “When does homelessness end for a person?” It is a sobering thought.
The experience of the Sleepout helps us understand we cannot solve homelessness by simply putting a physical roof over someone’s head. It is a complex multi-facet issue. We were introduced to the work of Passages, a youth engagement hub supported by the Vinnes and the Rotary Club, where displaced young people can come, not be judged, but just be themselves. Whether it is to speak to a councilor or just do simple tasks like laundry; in Matt’s words, “just to exist”.
Thanks to all our supporters, our team has reached a donation total of over $51k, a figure that exceeds our expectation. But this is but a little step. Today, let us individually reflect on how blessed we are. And whatever differences we might have in our own families, our loved ones are a blessing in our lives. Finally, if you would still like to donate to our team, the donation portal will remain open for a short period. Go to https://rebrand.ly/ceosleepoutau
Blessings to you, our friends and families. Fr Thai, Fr CJ, Louis, Ken, Byron, Howard