No home for one night for those with no home

Michael Green, principal of Mt Carmel School, Yass greets the sunrise after a rough night under the stars

If it was cold, wet, miserable, whatever would come their way, they’d have to deal with it – just as the homeless did.

For local community, business, government and other leaders who participated in the Vinnies annual CEO Sleep Out at the National Arboretum, there would be no cutting corners, no bunking up in a hall or shed.

They really did sleep out in the open to raise funds for the homeless – braving the elements – with little more than a sleeping bag, some cardboard pieces, soup and a bread roll.

For this year’s nation-wide event on 17 June there was a good-sized contingent from the Canberra-Goulburn archdiocese, especially from the Catholic education sector.

It was a typically cold winter night in the nation’s capital with a bitter wind straight from the snow country and for Michael Green, principal of Mt Carmel School, Yass, the experience was a sobering one.

“I certainly gained an appreciation of just how vulnerable it must feel for those who have no choice but to sleep rough,” said Michael.

It was a sentiment shared by Matt Egan-Richards, the principal of St Clare of Assisi, Condor.

Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn Catholic Education staff

“It’s one night. I’m lucky I’ve got a comfortable bed at home and a heated place…one night [here] is not going to kill me even if I don’t get any sleep,” he said.

For Leah Taylor, principal of St Thomas Aquinas at West Belconnen, influencing her young students was an important motivation for her participation.

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“It was a nice, gentle way of starting the conversation on homelessness for them,” she said.

Talking to the Catholic Voice, ACT Vinnies CEO, Barnie van Wyk, said many local homeless people needed food and shelter, including many with high complex needs.

“They can’t look after themselves and we need to be there for them,” he said.

Barnie said he was amazed and inspired by the generosity of Canberrans.

Paul Carroll (left), principal at St Francis Xavier College, Belconnen. “Our school community has a strong social conscience. My participation is a good way of representing their efforts too” David Austin (right), principal Good Shepherd Primary, Amaroo. “As a leader in a Catholic school we’ve got a real influence on our students to share what’s happening with homelessness and with what Vinnies does.”

With over a month still to run till the end of the appeal, a record $1 million has so far been raised in Canberra alone from the CEO sleep out of a national figure of $8.7 million.


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