Sleeping out in the Cold Warmed Hearts

Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia), July 9, 2011 | Go to article overview

Sleeping out in the Cold Warmed Hearts


KNOCKING around in my younger days I found myself sleeping under stone bridges in Spain, on the rear deck of Greek ferries and on the floors of train carriages. There was even a time I slept on the stairs of a London unit block and on the verandah of the Salvation Army hostel in Cairns.

That and the times we slept out under the stars while on surfing trips was as close as I came to sleeping rough. Yet every night more than 100,000 Australians are homeless.

Which is why I was standing in a South Brisbane street last month. I had driven down for the CEO Sleepout, organised by the St Vincent de Paul Society to raise funds and awareness of the plight of so many.

Parking the car, I met Greg Taylor from Rockhampton, a regional manager of national skills industry council Skills DMC. He had driven out to Emerald and back that morning then flown down for the sleepout.

He wanted to be part of the night, which saw more than 100 participants electing to sleep the night on concrete and cardboard at South Bank. There was a string of Sunshine Coast CEOs sharing a cup of soup or coffee with Queensland Treasurer Andrew Fraser and the Opposition's Tim Nicholls, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Local Government Association of Queensland Government Greg Hallam, and Shadow Minister for Communities, Housing and Women as well as member for Maroochydore, Fiona Simpson.

Coast-based Infocus Wealth Management managing director Darren Steinhardt was prompted to take part in the fundraiser after attending a black tie dinner in Sydney nine months ago for a company that was announcing a multi-billion dollar profit. On the way he saw homeless people, including a family, lining up to receive food from a van and he was shocked into doing something.

Darren said the CEO Sleepout was enlightening and he met some people who are doing some really amazing things. But there was one story that stuck with him.

It was of a man who had been quite a successful but his wife and two children were killed in a motorcar accident a few years ago. C[pounds sterling]You can understand the damage that could do to someone mentally,C[yen] Darren said, and he reminded that something as simple as a talk over a cup of coffee can go a long way when it comes to helping someone in need. …

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