Maryanne Gore, former Chief Executive of Project Lighting, has participated in the St Vincent de Paul CEO Sleepout eight times, and says the funds raised for homelessness can help combat a “hidden problem”.
“If you’ve been a CEO, you’ve gone to university or spent all your time in your career,” she said. “You may not have opened your eyes to the other side of life that exists.”
Maryanne said that as a CEO, she knew she had the ability to make a difference.
“No one else in my company can do this; I’m the CEO so this is something I can do to raise money for St Vincent de Paul,” she said.
“I knew that it would be cold, but it’s only the one night that I have to do this – by my profile and contacts I can raise some money.”
Over her eight Sleepouts, Maryanne raised a total of $21,598 – and that’s not including her donations to other people.
“The services that Vinnies provides are so well-targeted. Not everybody is cut out to be a frontline service person – as CEOs, many of us don’t have time, or maybe we don’t have the personality or the talent for it,” she said.
Now that she’s retired, Maryanne has hung up the sleeping bag, and won’t be braving the cold at Canberra Airport’s Hanger 47 on Thursday 20 June this year. She now volunteers with Vinnies’ Clemente program, which connects adults with tertiary education.
“You just see [the students’] confidence levels through the semester, by being treated like an adult their self-esteem and confidence just rises so wonderfully. It’s a really wonderful thing to see,” she said.
“They come into this oasis of adult conversation and respect for being themselves, whereas that’s not something that they might have experienced from their previous educational experience.
“I’ve really learnt a lot myself by doing that, because we’ve had some excellent units of study that I’ve been able to listen in, and to meet all the wonderful people who’ve been selected to do this program – it’s just wonderful to see how they grow and change and develop from the beginning of the semester to the end.”
Maryanne said support for these kinds of programs is critical, citing education and employment as key drivers in lifting people out of poverty.