Charles Kuralt once said “The love of family and the admiration of friends are much more important than wealth and privilege.”
That pretty much sums up how I feel after hosting ‘The Unlikely Pilgrim’s Launch Event – Honour Thy Neighbour Syria Fundraiser’. Two weeks before the event on a whim, I decided to turn my low-key launch event with close friends and family into the ‘Fundraiser for Syrian Refugees’ on behalf of ‘Hand in Hand for Syria’. That might sound admirable and plenty of people have applauded my initiative, the event and outcome.
But what happened next is the truly admirable part of the story. With only 17 days of planning, my network of friends, family, and friends of friends managed to donate over 70 items to be collated into raffle hampers. Booze, jewellery, games, accessories, toys and beauty products were kindly donated. All of the items were brand new. There were Christmas re-gifts, and odds and ends from the top cupboard where we all hoard things. Even gin was delivered duty free from Dubai. It was incredible.
My sister Camille, the real star of the show was behind the scenes pushing me every inch, further and harder to make sure we had a cracking event. Yeah, I was the bossy boots, spamming my friends’ Facebook feeds and sweet talking venues to host us for free, but that’s what years in recruitment gives you… cold call skills. But Millie, she was making flyers, calling her friends, employers, people she vaguely remembered who had skills for a family fun day (hence the brilliant face painter, Felicity). She helped me make the raffles bigger and better, even driving all over town collecting her friends’ donations. We sat at night with a wine for her and a beer for me and brain stormed. How else could we make money? Lucky dips? “I’m on it,” she says, and off we go to buy some supplies, after she’d hit her boss up for stuff from her work first. It turns out as a team we are a force to be reckoned with. Watch out event planning world!
It’s so inspiring to see your network come together for you. It may sometimes feel like no one cares about your projects, or your goals or what you’re doing. It can be isolating to be out there on your own, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed trying to make things work. You certainly can’t always rely on people and others will always support you more than some. This used to get me down as I have always been a giver. I tend to go above and beyond for people. I work too hard when I’m working in a company and then burn out. I constantly compromise in my relationships to the point where it goes unnoticed and then resentment creeps in. I’m also known to drop everything for a friend in need and this is a quality that I have always expected of myself and created an expectation in my circle that sometimes is not always reciprocated, which can be confusing. My wise sister and my best friend, my two angels in life, remind me (they too are people pleasers ) that this quality is a gift. They tell me not to be disheartened when sometimes people who you expect to show up for you don’t. We are like this because this is how God made us nd others aren’t and that is ok and doesn’t mean we should give less of ourselves. Give, love, and lead by example, if that is what is in your nature to do.
In times of pressure I always hold a fine balance between outward enthusiastic determination and inner fear and nervousness on whether I will succeed. The old ‘will people come to my party?’ fear. I’ve always been like this and I am just me, but the support that flowed from even perfect strangers for the Launch Event was incredible. Geckoes Wildlife came free of charge to entertain the kids with snakes, lizards, a beautiful owl and other critters. The Hamilton Hotel jumped on board immediately with free room hire and food discounts. Not to mention the 55 people who walked through the door with their cash in hand, smiles on their faces and a wave of words of encouragement and support for not only Syria, but for my project, for my dreams and for me.
There were people I haven’t seen in years, people who I met briefly, people I have known for 20 plus years, and of course my family. It was a fabulous day. It was a room filled with love and laughter and I am so thankful for all the effort and generosity of all those who came and those who could not come but gave their money and their love. In partnership with ‘Hand in Hand for Syria’, I am still committed to Taking a Leap of Faith for Syria and once I find a suitable location to skydive from, it’s on. I am committed to this because I have not forgotten my friends from all over the world who have reached into their hearts and their pockets and donated online.
I’m writing this from the comfort of my last minute cheeky and cheap business class upgrade on my Emirates flight to Singapore and all I can think is, ‘wow I am so wealthy, not in money, but in people and health and love.’ I feel immensely privileged to have so many people in my life who are there in my corner, supporting and guiding me. So was The Unlikely Pilgrim Launch a success? Absolutely! With you all behind me, I cannot fail. This trip of a lifetime is going to be blessed. I can feel it. Thank you again.
If you want to donate – http://www.justgiving.com/theunlikelypilgrim
If you want to see where your money is going – http://www.handinhandforsyria.org.uk
If you want to book a cracking venue in Brisbane – http://www.hamiltonhotel.com.au
If you want to book Geckoes Wildlife for your next party – http://www.geckoeswildlife.com.au
Yours in Faith,
The Unlikely Pilgrim