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Bringing home the reality of
BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
(l-r) Ray Collins, Sean Scanlon and Duilio Rufo ready to sleep rough'.
Dear Mr Collins, we would like to donate
some of our pocket money to your sleep
out. Good luck, stay warm and have fun.
Lily and Mae Fletcher
This note, and the piggy bank proceeds
that accompanied it, exemplify the spirit of
the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout, in which
Director of the Catholic Schools Office, Ray
Collins, Vice Chancellor, Catholic Diocese
of Maitland-Newcastle, Sean Scanlon and
principal of St Therese's Primary New
Lambton, Duilio Rufo, participated this
It would be fair to say that not one of the
three gentlemen was looking forward to
the event -- Sean had earlier admitted "I
hate camping" -- but each was strongly
committed to the cause.
The aim of the annual Vinnies CEO
Sleepout is not only to raise funds, but
to raise awareness of homelessness.
The Society's goal is not just to serve the
homeless, but to bring about an end to
homelessness. The discomfort of sleeping
on a piece of cardboard is a fragment of
the larger reality Vinnies hopes to impart
upon influential leaders, and through them,
the wider community. The sad reality is:
• 58% of people experiencing
homelessness are under 35
years of age
• 44% are women
• 12% are under 12 years of age.
Since 2006, the annual CEO Sleepout
has raised over $13 million for Vinnies
Homeless Services across NSW and
The reality of the situation was brought
home to Sean Scanlon recently: "I had a
fellow tapping on my window as it was
getting dark, asking if I could help him,"
said Sean. "He told me that he had been
at the family court that day, lost custody of
his children and had nowhere to sleep that
night. It was confronting and in all honesty
I didn't know what to do. That situation has
been on my mind since."
Ray Collins shared his experience 'the
morning after': "I made it through the night!
Sleeping on two thin pieces of cardboard
is not something I would choose to do and
it does bring home the stark reality that this
is the life of the homeless. Vinnies does a
great job! I have found the whole process
quite humbling and I would certainly do it
again but I am looking forward to my bed
Sean Scanlon expressed similar
sentiments: "It was a cold night but
spirits were high -- and I gained a new
appreciation of what it means to sleep
rough. The Newcastle Sleepout raised
about $120,000. After hearing the stories
of the people assisted by Vinnies I know
that it's all worth it."
Principal Duilio Rufo used his experience
as a springboard to raising awareness
with his students. "It has allowed our
community of St Therese's to be touched
in a way that will ensure the children have
grown in appreciation of the problem at
hand and responded positively.
To learn more about the CEO
Sleepout and the work of the
Society of St Vincent de Paul,
please visit www. ceosleepout.org.au
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