While star Canberra Raiders forward Sia Soliola is consistently among the team’s best come game day, his local work within the community reveals he’s an even better bloke off field.
His latest selfless act, shaving off his famous ‘fro to fund dance programs for disadvantaged and disabled kids with local arts-based group Kulture Break, has raised over $50,000 – more than double the target.
Sia told Canberra Weekly the decision to support Kulture Break was easy, with the organisation being perfectly aligned with his views around culture, community and inclusion.
“For me, it’s about trying to help the future generation in more ways than one, and that’s exactly what these guys do.
“They get kids to engage and participate in their programs, there’s a real confidence boost and they help those kids find themselves and who they are,” he said.
The funds raised will support more than 50 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or with a disability to be involved with Kulture Break’s programs for a year.
Kulture Break founder Francis Owusu said they were overwhelmed by the community’s support.
“It’s testament as to who Sia is and to what Kulture Break is about. It’s fantastic to know that people see our work in inclusion, wellbeing and mental health.”
Francis said the event had a great vibe.
“It was great to have a cross-section of the community there, from Kulture Break kids and families, Canberra’s business community, Raiders fans and the Raiders players as well. There was a lot of energy in the room and excitement around Sia’s shaving his hair,” he said.
40 years with Lifeline
At the Volunteer Awards Night on Tuesday 20 November, Lifeline Canberra acknowledged the hard work and dedication of their volunteers.
Doreen Watt, 78, was recognised for her 40 years of work in the Lifeline book warehouses. Doreen works at the Mitchell warehouse twice a week, and has seen many odd things over the years. Once, she found ten $100 bills inside a book – which quickly became a donation to Lifeline. She’s also opened boxes of brand new books finding the receipts inside them.
Doreen encourages anyone wanting to volunteer or with some spare time, to offer their services to the Bookfair warehouse.
“The people that I know and work with … we’re all getting older and we need the new blood coming in to do some of the heavy work.”
Asked to sum up her time as a volunteer, Doreen says “I look forward to it … if I didn’t have this, I would be sitting at home twiddling my thumbs; it’s meeting people, looking at books and helping Lifeline … it’s fulfilment.”