The Chappell Foundation’s 5th Annual Dinner on August 10 was the most successful yet, raising some $430,000 for the struggle against youth homelessness. “We are finalising the numbers now, but it is very clear this year’s Annual Dinner has easily been our best,” said Foundation Chairman Darshak Mehta.
“Our 508 dinner guests were amazingly generous but it’s not just the record amount we raised. “The feedback we received from supporters on the night and since has been gratifying. “Test captain Pat Cummins gave a wonderful insight into leadership, the condition of contemporary international cricket and his own character,” said Darshak.
Proceeds from the Sydney Cricket Ground dinner bring to $4 million net funds raised by The Chappell Foundation since 2017 to fund frontline charities in the battle against youth homelessness.
As Darshak said in his stimulating chairman’s address: “Youth homelessness, indeed all homelessness, is a blight on our country and a scandalous failure of government.”
“Our inspiring young guest speaker, Alana, brought it all home – how charities like Taldumande Youth Services rescue fledgling lives from the despair of homelessness.” Alana’s life has been turned around by Taldumande, one of seven frontline charities currently supported by TCF, and her speech was a highlight of the Annual Dinner.
When Alana arrived at Taldumande Youth Services, she’d been homeless twice following a family breakdown when she was 14. She’d been in psychiatric care, lived unhappily in several group homes and at age 19 was severely depressed and contemplating suicide. In this edited version of Alana’s speech to our Annual Dinner she tells what happened next.
I was sitting in Taldumande’s intake office with my buzzcut hair and zero expectations. I had been turned down by a couple of other services and I remember thinking: “Nobody wants the mentally ill girl”. But Adam from Intake told me the words I desperately wanted to hear: “Sounds like you deserve a chance Alana”
I started out at one of Taldumande’s semi-independent homes and, at first, I really had my guard up. Coming home from school, my case manager back then would ask in a chirpy voice “Alana how was school?” and I would start power-walking to the back of the house. I was scared of her. I just wasn’t used to people taking such a genuine interest in me. But, she persevered. We would end up talking about school and what was going on for me. This became one of my favourite times of the day.
I had started my recovery journey but when I moved into one of Taldumande’s supported independent apartments in North Sydney I really started to thrive. That’s when buzzcut Alana with zero expectations disappeared. I started to smile, I started to make friends. I finally completed my HSC, one of the proudest days of my life, and Taldumande was right there at my graduation cheering me on.
In 2020 I qualified as an assistant in nursing. I then went on to study for a Bachelor of Nursing – and was amazed to find myself achieving high distinctions for assignments! Recently I found an amazing job as a specialized dementia carer in an aged care residential home in Darlinghurst. But the most amazing part is I am taking care of clients who have come from a background of homelessness themselves.
Today, I live in long-term social housing, a place that I can finally call “home”.
I’ll never be able to repay Taldumande with my words but I’m hoping I can pass their compassion forward and make an impact on other people’s lives.
Thank you, The Chappell Foundation, for your continued support of our cause, our young people, and our services.