International Women’s Day

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Rhiannon Curtis, Community Engagement Coordinator for Ronald McDonald Family Retreat in Forster, has been busy organising an event to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. With three guest speakers, raffles, gift bags and a special luncheon at Club Taree, the day promises to be a lot of fun!

Hi Rhiannon. Ronald McDonald Family Retreat will be holding a fundraiser on International Women’s Day (IWD) – March 8. Where will this event be held?

Our luncheon will be held, with thanks to our Event Sponsor Club Taree, at Club Taree from 11am until 2:30pm.

What format will the event take?

We are hosting a three speaker luncheon that includes a drink on arrival, followed by a two course lunch. Everyone attending will also receive a gift bag and be in the draw for our lucky door prizes. We will have raffle tickets on sale on the day, with some amazing prizes up for grabs.

Introduce us to the guest speakers for the day.

Our first speaker (who is stepping in for RMHC Australia CEO Barbara Ryan; unfortunately due to the nature of our work, at times situations arise that take us away from our prior commitments, which is the case for Barbara, who sends her deepest apologies) will be Tracey Webster. We are so excited to have Tracey stepping in. Tracey is the National Learning Program Manager and has over 14 years’ experience with Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia. During her time at RMHC Australia, the Ronald McDonald Learning Program was created, starting with a pilot program of 10 students. The Learning Program now works with over 1,000 students each week, providing tailored individual tutoring delivered by qualified registered teachers. Tracey has said that she “is honoured to be attending and looks forward to sharing her experiences and knowledge with our audience”.

Next will be Kim Elliot from the most recent season of The Block. Kim will be sharing the stage with FOCUS’ very own Jo Robinson for a Q & A session, which will also include the opportunity for audience interaction. Kim will share her experience from The Block and also setting the goals and motivation to achieve their amazing results. Working within the education system and also having a young family herself, Kim understands the need for a work/life balance and she “cannot wait to be up here in the beautiful Manning-Great Lakes to share her story and meet some wonderful people”.

Our last speaker for the luncheon is Jennifer Wendtman of 360 Connections. Known for her ability to engage with the audience and skilfully and naturally take them on a journey, Jennifer Wendtman uses humour and life experiences to connect and inspire. Her delivery offers a clear message woven together with narrative from broad experience. Jennifer challenges people to think, reflect and move toward their purpose. Jennifer’s reputation as a speaker is built on her capacity to address challenging topics with raw honesty, humour and compassion. The creation of a safe and relaxed atmosphere provides a space where the audience become participants and engage in the presentation.

For you personally, what is the most significant aspect of IWD? 

For me, International Women’s Day is a chance for us all to get together, share our experiences and aspirations and work towards making a better working world. I believe that this can be achieved by every single one of us by starting in small steps at home, in our workplaces and within our circle of friends. By holding this luncheon, I am hoping that our audience will leave feeling inspired, encouraged and empowered to make a better working world for us all.

How will funds raised from the event be used to benefit the community?

Ronald McDonald House Northern NSW supports many Manning-Great Lakes families through Ronald McDonald House Newcastle, Ronald McDonald Family Room Newcastle, both located at John Hunter Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald Learning Program and the Ronald McDonald Family Retreat Forster.

In the last three months of 2016 alone, 82 families made 116 visits to one or more of our programs. This meant that families from the Manning-Great Lakes received 730 nights of accommodation free of charge at times of stress, uncertainty and away from home. A lot of these families stayed for one or two nights, with many families needing to stay for long periods of time or weeks on end.

All funds raised from our International Women’s Day Luncheon will go directly to the programs that support our local families by continuing to provide accommodation, a comfortable space within the hospital, support with education or a break away together as a family.

What do you feel is the most remarkable achievement the Ronald McDonald Family Retreat at Forster has been able to accomplish in the past year?

We have increased our occupancy at the Family Retreat by over 100 families per year. This means that more families are getting the opportunity to take some much needed time away from everyday life and reconnect as a family. In 2016 we had 172 families visit the Manning-Great Lakes and experience what we all get to live every day. Ten of those families were local Mid North Coast families choosing to spend their much needed holiday right here in our own back yard! These families spend their time at our beaches, in our shops and eating at cafés and restaurants year round.

Whom would you like to thank for their support in making this luncheon event possible?

Club Taree is our Event Partner, as well as being an ongoing supporter of the Family Retreat Make a Meal program and being our biggest annual third party fundraiser. This & That Unique Homewares are our styling sponsor, ensuring the event comes together to be a treat for all the senses. AE Interiors are our gift bag sponsor. As our media partner, FOCUS are playing a big part in the lead up and on the day and finally, we could not of put this event together without the support of UpBound.

We have some very generous donors for our raffle and lucky door prizes that we would also like to thank, including Thomas Sabo, Jeanswest, Robert Oately Vineyards, Town Beach Beachcomber – Port Macquarie, Split Enz Hair & Beauty and Goldwell.

We are so grateful to all of our sponsors and donors for this event.

Where can tickets to the event be purchased?

Tickets can be purchased from Club Taree reception for $80 each. Tables are set up for groups of ten, but individual purchases are also very welcome. For any information on the luncheon, please call Club Taree reception 6539 4000 or Rhiannon from Ronald McDonald House Northern NSW on 0428 301 088.

Thanks Rhiannon.

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