THE 52 WEEK LOVE PROJECT – WEEK 2
Welcome to Week 2 of The 52 Week Love Project. The project designed to recognize 52 inspiring humans who are giving back to our community – whether in a small way or by creating a movement for change and inspiration.
The project will showcase LOVE at it’s finest, share their stories – what they do and why they do it! It’s an opportunity for us to find out what inspires them and what keeps them going when challenges or self-doubt assail them.
A courageous game changer doing more than her bit to make a difference
WHAT SHE DOES
If you think that doing good on one project is enough to keep someone busy – meet Donna. An inspirational game changer driven to make a difference to the homeless. Not satisfied with creating one charity, Donna is the driving force behind several charities – all with the same goal – to make a difference to men, women and children that sleep rough, in crisis accommodation and do not have the benefit of the basic fundamentals that we take for granted.
Homelessness has become an epidemic issue and is rapidly growing each year. In Australia alone, there are currently 105,237 people who are homeless – according to Homelessness Australia Org.
WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?
Donna best describes it as ‘she accidentally started a charity’!
Donna’s journey initially steamed from her Uncle, who has Autism and she was worried for his safety and the real possibility of him facing homelessness. This concern was compounded with the knowledge that one of her 5 sons had Autism. The trigger for action happened one wintery morning, out for a run in Sydney prior to attending a conference, she saw a homeless man sleeping on a bench. No blanket, no jacket and the temperature gauge stuck on freezing!
Delving in, Donna investigated what services were available for those with a disability and discovered that there is a high risk of homelessness for those that have a disability and the services to support these people – ‘there wasn’t much around’.
Faced with the decision – to make a difference to her son or extend it to everyone that was in the same situation – Donna chose the road to create pathways for change now for all homelessness to make a difference for the future.
The Sleeping Bags for Homelessness was simply the beginning. The charities and difference that Donna is making to our world will hopefully create a shift in awareness, lead others to get inspired or want to contribute aanyway– big or small.
Under the banner of National Homeless Collectives, Donna has created the following charities.
SLEEPING BAGS FOR HOMELESSNESS
It all started with a blanket drive -that generated 3,500 sleeping bags and blankets in 8.5 weeks! Initially called Blanket Melbourne, not long after the first successful campaign, the name changed to Sleeping Bags for Homelessness which was in line with the understanding gathered of what the Homeless needed – sleeping bags.
The sleeping bag for Homelessness has been running for 3 years. As most of us snuggle under a doona at night, there are those that are not fortunate enough to have the bare necessities to get through the harsh winter elements. The Sleeping Bag for Homelessness Team is out there, on the streets, delivering sleeping bags to those that sleep rough and in need of simple warmth to get them through the night.
THE PERIOD PROJECT
The hope of the Melbourne Period Project is to provide care, support and sanitary products for homeless women, Transmen and non-binary people!
The aim is to sponsor a homeless woman though her period. The idea is that each time you get your period it’s your reminder to donate one pack of sanitary products to the Melbourne Period Project, or $5 and the Period Project Team will purchase sanitary products on your behalf.
The Period Packs have everything to manage your period, including if you don’t have access to a bathroom – a real problem faced by homeless people! The Packs are put together by other homeless women creating a sense of belonging, an ability to work and to earn a wage.
THE SCHOOL PROJECT
The School Project is designed to give out school bags to those that are in foster care, crisis services and refugees. Packed with essentials and everything a child would need to survive at school – pens, paper, pencil case, lunch box, drink bottle and other basic school essentials that we take for granted. All items in the school bags are brand new.
The school bags are packed by volunteers and delivered through crisis services and foster care agencies.
THE PLATE UP PROJECT (JUST STARTED…)
Donna’s most recent pride and joy project is the Plate Up Project. This return to work program helps those that have lived in crisis accommodation and the homeless return to work and equip them with the necessary skills to do so. The training includes working in a commercial kitchen that teaches food handling, Responsible Service of Alcohol and even includes a Barista Course (an essential part of Melbourne life). The pilot project has surpassed all expectations and will continue with further pilots until the project is perfected. There are bars and restaurants in Melbourne that are contributing by taking on staff to help them to return to work and assisting with their ongoing education!
AND – If That Wasn’t Enough…..
On top of these projects, there are a range of ‘Go Fund Me’ Projects that are carried out – the most recent one to pay for Vet bills for one of the women that is homeless and her dog in need of treatment. You can read more here: Go Fund Me
HOW DO YOU GET PAST SELF DOUBT?
Donna said ‘Stubbornness. And I have always been one to look at the past to see what I can do in the future. I look at past achievements and see what I did.’
Donna says she is too stubborn to say NO even to herself. ‘Self-doubt is always there but I can always get past it’
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS THAT WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE / CREATE CHANGE?
‘Find out if someone is already doing it – don’t reinvent the wheel! Find out if your idea is going to be useful, find out what people need, find the gap! Can it be used and make a difference’?
‘If you have an idea – go with your instincts, people will always tell you what you cant’ do – don’t listen. Just start… ‘
DO YOU HAVE A QUOTE / MOTTO THAT IS YOUR GO TO?
‘If everyone who could help, did help, then everyone would have help’.
HOW CAN OTHERS HELP OR GET INVOLVED…
To learn more about any of these incredible projects – please visit their facebook page or website where you can learn more.
Get In Touch:
- The Period Project Facebook Page
- The Period Project Website
- The Plate Up Project Facebook Page
- The Plate Up Project Website
- Sleeping Bag For Homelessness Facebook Page
- Sleep Bags for Homelessness website
- The National Collective Facebook Page
- The Melbourne School Project Facebook Page
- The School Project Website
The work they do is driven by donations, sponsors, fundraisers and volunteers! If you want to get involved in any capacity, here’s how:
- via pay pal on one of the above website
- Through your payroll at work – if your employer is with Good2Give
- Do your own fundraiser for any of the above causes. It’s Donna’s most favourite thing and she loves attending wherever possible
- Book a Homelessness Awareness Session to learn more about homelessness which gives you the opportunity to find out more and how you can get involved
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