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Katherine Whelan is taking part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout

Our Chief Experience Officer, Dr Katherine Whelan, is taking part in the Vinnies Australia CEO Sleepout in Sydney on June 21 to help combat homelessness in Australia.

We caught up with Katherine to find out more about the sleepout and how her fundraising is going.

You can support this cause and donate by visiting Katherine's page on the Vinnies site.

What inspired you to get involved?

Since starting at Lendi almost one year ago now, I've been consistently impressed by the amount of charity and community work done by our employees through the Lendi Homes program. The corporate social responsibility program not only facilitates monetary donations but also hands-on assistance and volunteering at events.

I feel a personal responsibility to give back to society and also to lead by example - and that means walking the talk and getting involved in a big way.

I've been aware of the CEO Sleepout for some time - it's a great initiative that creates widespread awareness of Australia's challenge with homelessness and last year they raised $5.6 million!

For me, this initiative is about spending a day in the life of someone significantly less fortunate, while raising awareness about homelessness and its impact on individuals. I’m also a passionate support for the amazing work Vinnies is doing to provide Australian's less fortunate with hope, support and a new life.


Have you done anything like this before?

Like so many privileged people, I haven’t slept outside since camping as a kid. And that is very different to sleeping rough. So the sleepout will be a new experience for me.

I have always felt a duty to volunteer and support charities that provide hope and improve people’s lives.

At the beginning of my career, I volunteered as a phone-counsellor at Lifeline. This involved talking to people in desperate need of support and understanding for various reasons - homelessness, domestic violence, mental illness, bullying and so much more. The experience opened my eyes to the pain that so many Australians are experiencing and I was able to see first-hand the positive impact of the extraordinary efforts of the leaders and volunteers these services offer to our community.

These days, I’m an active supporter of charities associated with cancer, children and providing shelter to the less fortunate. My family has been impacted by cancer so I have first-hand experience of how devastating and life-changing it can be for the individual diagnosed and their families.

I’m also an active supporter of children’s charities. I don't have children of my own, so in some way, I feel a philosophical obligation to support children to succeed and be happy - whether that be through disease research, anti-bullying programs or the arts.

Want to donate? Visit Katherine's page on the Vinnies site.

Is this something you have always wanted to do?

I always wanted to give back to the community in any way possible. I am a true believer in what goes around comes around and I have been extremely fortunate and lucky. I do believe luck plays a big role in life, not all of us have luck on our side. So, in a big way I feel I have an obligation and purpose to help others wherever possible.

If I can contribute in any way to changing someone’s life from bad to even a little better, then that would make me proud as a human being.

Is there much preparation for the actual sleep out itself?

To be honest, I haven't thought about how to prepare for the event at all. I just want to show up and take on the experience for what it is. I don't want to over-think it - I rather go into it with a naive and unbiased view of what to expect. I think this will have a greater impact on my reaction and inspire me to do more!

Where will you be sleeping out?

The Sleepout is on Thursday 21 June 2018 at White Bay Cruise Terminal in Rozelle.

How is the fundraising going?

A little goes a long way. I have had a lot of support, praise and 'likes' for participating in this campaign - but the truth be said, money talks! Donations are what I am after, not the praise...

If you’d like to make a donation, please visit the Vinnies site here.

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