12 June 2024

CEOs join forces to raise funds and awareness for Vinnies Sleepout

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Two men standing in front of glass doors holding sleeping bags.

Wests Illawarra CEO Daniel Munk and The Flagstaff Group CEO Rodney Von Clark held a fundraising morning tea at Wests for the Sleepout. Rod ran from Flagstaff’s Berkeley headquarters to the Unanderra club for the event. Photo: Supplied.

Rodney Von Clark and Danny Munk both have demanding, full-time jobs but they also share experiences of what life can be like for homeless people.

Rodney, the CEO of The Flagstaff Group, and Danny, CEO of Wests Illawarra, are among hundreds of business executives, community and government leaders from around Australia who are taking part in this year’s Vinnies CEO Sleepout on Thursday 20 June.

The Sleepout started in 2006 at a community event held in Parramatta and is held annually on one of the longest and coldest nights of the year. Those taking part sleep outdoors – regardless of the weather – to experience for just one night what it’s like for a homeless person every night.

It expanded to a nation-wide event in 2010 and in 2013 regional events started in Wollongong and Newcastle.

COVID-19 forced the event online, with people sleeping in their car, backyard or on their couch.

Last year, 1490 CEOs, business and community leaders participated by sleeping out at one of the 13 events held across the country or via a livestream, and raised more than $8.9 million.

READ ALSO Flagstaff Group CEO stepping beyond Vinnies CEO Sleepout by running 1000 km

Funds raised during the campaigns help the St Vincent de Paul Society to support Australians who are experiencing homelessness and people at risk of homelessness.

This financial year alone, Vinnies has supported 11,000 people in the Wollongong region, including one-in-three people who are experiencing housing stress.

The Wollongong local government area recorded 828 people experiencing homelessness at the last census, but over the past year, rough sleeping increased by 41 per cent.

About 2000 applicants are on the waiting list for social housing in Wollongong and surrounding communities.

The Flagstaff Group and Wests Illawarra have joined forces to raise funds and awareness for the Sleepout.

Danny is no stranger to the event and will take part in his 10th Sleepout this year. He has raised more than $265,000 during this time.

“Homelessness can affect anyone, and we all have a role to play in helping those who find themselves without a home to get back on their feet,” he said.

“I am proud to have participated in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout for a decade and appreciate the contributions the Illawarra community have made to my fundraising efforts.

“Together we can support those who need access to food and a warm place to sleep.”

READ ALSO Illawarra’s homelessness services under stress as young people struggle with housing security

Rod, who has completed the Sleepout for the past three years, has added a 1000 km run to help raise funds.

“The issue of homelessness is very complex as it often cannot be fixed simply by providing a roof over someone’s head,” he said.

“Instead, it also involves care and support for those people who are often escaping much larger issues.

“As I am a keen runner, I am running for the cause to help raise funds with each kilometre symbolising the endurance needed to combat homelessness.”

The organisations are taking donations for a Winter Warmers collection of gloves, beanies, scarves, jumpers and hoodies that Vinnies can hand out to homeless people to help them keep warm this winter.

Donations of new, or near new washed items, can be left at the collection bins at Flagstaff and Wests Illawarra reception areas.

So far the pair has raised a combined $17,000.

To track Rod’s progress and donate, click here; to track Danny’s progress and donate click here.

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