Leaders and entrepreneurs band together to aid the homeless

Leaders and entrepreneurs band together to aid the homeless

Several of Brisbane and the Gold Coast's most inspiring business leaders will be sleeping rough for the Vinnies CEO sleepout next month to raise much needed funds that will aid the homeless.

Joining the cause is ERM Power CEO Jon Stretch and Rowland CEO Geoff Rodgers, who have been named ambassadors of the event, plus Business News Australia's managing editor Camilla Jansen who has also rallied an intrepid team of Young Entrepreneurs to take part.

Two of Brisbane's leading CEOs are challenging the other business leaders to join them as they sleep in the open for Vinnies CEO Sleepout Brisbane 2019.

Stretch, Rogers and Jansen are not new to the annual event which seeks to help people experiencing homelessness.

With almost 10 years of involvement under his belt, long term supporter Rodgers has seen the positive impact the event has had for people at risk of homelessness.

"When you attend a Sleepout you hear the stories of people who have been assisted by Vinnies and you hear firsthand how Vinnies has used the funds raised to provide people with homes and the chance to improve their lives," he said.

"I think if you want to be in business you need to contribute to the society you operate in, and support those who have been less fortunate than others.

"My challenge to other CEOS and business people thinking about participating is just do it - it's not that hard. It's only for one night but the impact you will have is immeasurable."

Jon Stretch, who was one of the Brisbane event's top fundraisers in 2018, raising a staggering $72,048, said his continued support for the Sleepout is due to his desire to create solutions for people experiencing homelessness.

"Homelessness is all around us, it's a problem that is unforgivable, it is unacceptable, it shouldn't happen. And yet it does. You can see it everywhere and you just want to work on solving it," he said.

"The more money we raise - the more we can put into programs to support the homeless, the more we understand the issue - the better we can solve the problems that lead to people becoming homeless."

This is the third year that Jansen has taken part in the CEO Sleepout, and the second year that she will be joined by a team of winners and finalists from the Young Entrepreneur Awards initiative.

Jansen says the Vinnies CEO Sleepout is one of the most impactful national initiatives and its benefits are felt by many.

"There are more than 116,000 people in this country experiencing homelessness right now," says Jansen. 

"Through initiatives like the Vinnies CEO Sleepout and the generosity of people who are in more fortunate positions, only then can we hope to reduce this number to zero."

Also joining Rogers and Jansen is Debbie Smith, a managing partner of Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Smith says she became an ambassador for the event after seeing its impact firsthand.

"I never realised just how big of an issue homelessness was in Queensland, and just how hard Vinnies are working until I took part in a Sleepout myself," says Smith.

"Vinnies work is so important because they are actually addressing the root cause of the problem, they are providing homes and shelter and they are doing an amazing job."

"They are also helping so many people on the verge of being homeless and have a number of services which work on stopping homelessness before it happens."

"This is so important, because the number of homeless people would be increasing tenfold if it wasn't for the work of organisations like Vinnies."

"I'd challenge any business leader who hasn't taken part in a Vinnies CEO Sleepout to join us and learn about the scale of the problem, the realities of the homelessness, and the ways in which Vinnies is helping vulnerable people."

Vinnies CEO Sleepout Brisbane 2019 takes place on Thursday 20 June at the Brisbane Powerhouse on one of the coldest nights of the year, while Vinnies CEO Sleepout Gold Coast 2019 will be held on the same night at Cbus Stadium.

Go to ceosleepout.org.au to register to join the Vinnies CEO Sleepout Brisbane 2019 or to donate to one of the business leaders who are fundraising.


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