Vinnies Sleepout in Australia Raises $2.3 Million for Poor by CEOs - Wow

CEOs Raise $2.3 million Ahead of Next Week's Sleepout

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
11 Jun 2014
CEO Sleepout in Sydney last year raised $2.1 million for the homeless
With just eight days to go until the Society St Vincent de Paul's annual CEO Sleepout, more than $2.3 million has already been pledged to help the homeless.
Now in its ninth year, Vinnies' CEO Sleepout looks like once again breaking records and surpassing the $5.3 million figure raised last year.
The first Sleepout took place on 21 June 2006 when 20 of Sydney's high flyers slept rough in freezing temperatures at the Telstra Stadium at Homebush, and raised $30,000 for the homeless. The following year 40 CEOs took part and raised $60,000.
Since then Vinnies CEO Sleepout has grown into a national event.
Bernard Fehon who Came Up with the Idea of CEO Sleepouts
This year at different venues across Australia, 1064 of the nation's business leaders, politicians and captains of industry CEOs will experience what it is like to be homeless as they bed down with nothing but a sleeping bag and sheet of cardboard to keep them warm, and their own nourishment  of hot soup and a bread roll.
In Sydney the CEO Sleepout will be held at the Redfern Carriageworks with more than 230 expected to take part while a further 100-plus CEOs will participate in Sleepouts planned for Newcastle and Wollongong.
Among the CEOs taking part in this year's national Vinnies CEO Sleepout are Federal Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, billionaire mining magnate Andrew Twiggy Forrest, the CEO of Best and Less, Holly Kramer, the Minister for Education Christopher Pyne, the Most Rev William Wright, Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, the CEO of Vinnies NSW, Michael Perusco and Paul Nicolau CEO of the Australian Hotels Association (NSW).
For many participants the 2014 Sleepout will be the third or fourth time they have bunked down to raise awareness and funds for the homeless. But for the man who came up with the idea of CEO Sleepouts as a fundraiser for Vinnies to help the homeless, next week will mark the ninth time he has taken part.
When Opposition Leader PM Tony Abbott took part in Vinnies annual CEO Sleepout
A long time supporter and Vinnies volunteer, Penrith-based financier and CEO of Tactical Solutions, Bernard Fehon says his inspiration for CEO Sleepouts came from two of his five children who at the time were attending St Columbus College, Springwood.
"I'd been involved with Vinnies at Parramatta for about six years and organised fundraising dinners. But the dinners were hard work and targeting business leaders wasn't easy. Then the two kids at St Columbus were in Year 11 they took part in a school Sleepout for the Homeless. That's when I thought why not try this with CEOs," he says.
Bernard took his idea to Vinnies and on  21 June 2006 the first CEO Sleepout was held at the Telstra Stadium, Homebush.
Billionaire Andrew Twiggy Forrest a regular at WA's CEO Sleepout for the Homeless
Bernard and 19 others took part and together they managed to raise $30,000. The following year 40 CEOs took part and doubled the amount raised. Since then the idea has snowballed not only across Australia but worldwide.
While not all the CEO Sleepouts overseas raise money for Vinnies, all use the idea to raise funds for charities and for the homeless.
But here in Australia, the CEO Sleepouts are indelibly linked to Vinnies and part of the national calendar in June each year.
"We chose June and a date as near as possible to 22 June which is the longest and often the coldest night of the year," says Bernard.
While he is delighted at the way the CEO Sleepouts have taken off and the more than $13 million raised so far to help the homeless, he says the amount raised each year is still  a fraction of what is needed to help the more than 110,000 men, women and children who are without shelter on any given night of the year.
Malcolm Turnbull with Deborah Hutton at last year's CEO Sleepout in Sydney
"This does not mean that the same people will all be homeless next year. People move in and out of homelessness," he says explaining that for many it may be due to economic pressures such as Sydney's high rents and high cost of living. But homelessness may also be due to a range of underlying issues such as relationship breakdowns, alcohol, drug and gambling addictions or retrenchment and unemployment.
"At Vinnies the job is to respond to those who may find themselves homeless and to help them get back onto to their feet and back into the mainstream."
For Bernard, raising awareness about homelessness and about the people who often through no fault of their own become homeless is one of the most important aspects of the CEO Sleepout.
Volunteers help Vinnies serve 250000 meals each year to Sydney's homeless
"To have 200 or more of the nation's business leaders sitting quietly and listening to a man or woman behind the microphone talking about being homeless is one of the most powerful parts of any CEO Sleepout," he says. "The whole evening leads up to this and after the talk by those who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness there is time for reflection. And it is in these moments that everything is turned upside and the people at the so-called top of society with wealth and privilege and the people some of us may think of as being at the bottom, realise we are all connected; that we are all one family."
Bernard strongly believes the exposure to the homeless and the causes of an individual's homelessness, enlightens and fosters compassion among Australia's business leaders and decision-makers.
"I also believe the compassion awakened extends to the workplace as well as to their families at home," he says.
To find out more about the CEO Sleepout 2014 and to donate log on to
Shared from Archdiocese of Sydney