Aug 31 2011

Read and Recover is on Again!

White Now‘ in conjunction with Brad Sugars of ‘Action Coach’ is again running the ‘Read & Recover Program‘ in 2011 which will see us donate 1600 books to 100 hospitals across Australia!

The books have already arrived and now we need nominations for Hospitals and other Children’s organisations that will benefit from receiving these books.

This great initiative came about after ‘White Now‘  MD Jenny White spent some time in a children’s ward of a hospital with her son when he was ill and found that the only books available were few and in poor condition.  She decided she would like to help out by donating books to hospital children’s wards, so other parents and children could benefit.  Brad Sugars was calling for suggestions for his ‘Santa Brad’ project through Facebook, so Jenny told him her idea and he was happy to get on board and Read & Recover became a reality.  The initiative went from 100 books to 10 hospitals and rapidly moved to 1500 books to 100 hospitals.

So, now we have the books (and they are filling up our office) we call for nominations from the community for hospitals and children’s organisations they have either been involved with or know of, who would benefit from the donation of some books for the kids and families who the help.  We do this via Facebook and our newsletter (Click here to sign up for the newsletter) to our contacts at White Now and want to hear from YOU!

Later on we will also ask for volunteers to help us pack and deliver the books, so stay tuned!

I joined the ‘White Now’ team at the end of last year so this is my first experience of the ‘Read & Recover’ Program and I am already caught up in the excitement and can’t wait to be more involved.  It is great to receive your nominations and learn about the positive experiences people have had with our great hospitals and other organisations and know how these books will be of benefit and bring a smile!

Click here to read more about this great program and PLEASE contact us with your nominations through info@whitenow.com.au.

All the best
Sarah Watts


May 05 2010

A summary of how the Read & Recover Initiative was Born !

Category: The 'Read & Recover' Initiative - Helping sick kids!Jenny White @ 4:39 PM

The Read & Recover Initiative was born through the thoughts and actions of some kind people with some kind hearts.  The owner of White Now, Jenny White had experienced periods of time with her then 3 year old in hospital with recurring bouts of pneumonia over a 12 month period – an experience that can be teatering on life of death for a toddler.  With this in mind along with the great experiences that Jenny and her family had with the medical teams, Jenny thought of ways to simply ‘give back’ to those who gave so much to her family to ensure that her 3 year old survived.  She noticed that some of the books in the hospitals were a little tired and ‘well used’.  WIth further research of other hospitals, she found that this was an all too familiar story. Jenny’s child is a lover of books and this kept him going through the many nights in hospital.  If something can keep a sick kid happy – then this is a Godsend !

At Christmas time 2009, immediately after Jenny’s child was released from hospital for the 4th time in 6 months, a ‘friend’ on Facebook (a friend that Jenny had never met) posted that he would like to grant some Christmas wishes.  That gentleman, Brad Sugars was a very successful businessman living in Las Vegas (an Aussie ex-pat).  Jenny posted on his Facebook page that she would like to donate 100 books to 10 hospitals in Sydney.  Soon after, Brad granted this wish but increased the donation to 1,600 books for 100 hospitals Australia wide.  The kindness and generosity of Jenny and Brad lead to this amazing initiative.  The inaugral year was 2010 with the initiative to be continued in years to come !

What a great story !

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Apr 29 2010

Fantastic Group of People

Category: The 'Read & Recover' Initiative - Helping sick kids!Toby Kennett @ 11:18 AM

Isn’t it just THE BEST feeling when you get a group of decent, easy-going, happy people in the same space?  And isn’t it amazing what can be achieved with a group like this?

On Tuesday just gone, we assembled “The A-team” to assist with the packing of the 1600 books for 100 Children’s Hospitals as part of our “Read & Recover” initiative.  I am sure that it will be blogged about further in the near future, but I just wanted to share briefly, what I took from the day!  Whilst it was never about me, I came away with a fantastic feeling and it was all because of the wonderful people I shared the experience with.

Upon arrival, everyone jumped to the various tasks and throughout the process there was plenty of happy chatter, a few laughs and a general air of comraderie.  Over the ensuing 5 hours, (minus time for lunch of course) – we unpacked, bundled, wrapped, packed and posted the books so that they could get to their various destinations all across the country.

From me personally, I just wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU to the wonderful people that I got to know a bit better and spend some quality time with.  The opportunity to get to know some truly good and decent human beings was an honour.  The fact that I was able to do so whilst we all worked together for the greater good was truly a wonder and something that I feel greatly priviledged to have experienced.

Sue, Kathy, Michael and Jenny – THANK YOU for being so kind and generous with your time and more importantly, with yourselves.  It was my absolute pleasure to have been able to get to know each of you (even you JW) that much better and I look forward our next catch-up!

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Feb 17 2010

Plan all you want, but flexibility is what is needed !

Read & Recover

When we started our Read & Recover Initiative in partnership with Brad Sugars, we knew that it was going to be a big job, full of fun and a fair bit of hard work and hey, we’re ALWAYS up for a challenge and ALWAYS up for hard work !  To us, it was going to take some great organisational skills and a passion to make kids smile. If you think about the process in its simplest form, all we have to do is buy 1600 books and send them to 100 hospitals.  All of us at White Now consider ourselves as organizational machines (and we usually are except when one of our kids has been up all night then we are more like organisational disasters) !!

We started with a plan and a time line. Isn’t it true though that it’s not until you plan a process that you actually work out that the simple logistics that you had once thought of, have turned into a 68 page procedure manual that takes 2 weeks to develop and another 2 weeks to digest ? Our aim though is to get these books out there and we will do what it takes to make that happen.

We are rapidly crossing the tasks of the list with each cross triggering a smile on our faces knowing that we are one step closer to getting those books out.  There have been so many people who have offered their assistance to pack or deliver the books or simply be involved somehow, and they are patiently waiting until it is ‘packing day’.  We had many photographers offering their services to do photo shoots for us with Brad and also taking images of the delivery of the books to the hospitals. We ended up securing Michael O’Farrell from www.ofarrell.com.au, who is already an absolute pleasure to deal with.  This contact came through Facebook and we thank his daughter for putting his name forward.

We are right in the middle of calling the hospitals and this is where the interesting challenges have manifested.  The plan was to call each hospital, find the appropriate person to chat to about the initiative, grab their details, gain their permission to donate the books, send them a formal letter, get the delivery volunteers to call them when it is time to deliver, have the hospital contact receive the books at a mutually suitable time and there endeth the process.  Don’t forget that we are organizational machines here at White Now and if there is a process to follow, we will do it.  What we didn’t plan for was all the variables that we would find once this ring around started – these include;

  1. The person we need to talk to is on leave
  2. The person we need to talk to is unable to return our call
  3. The Reception staff want to handle this themselves and won’t pass the call on
  4. The hospital is unable to take books for hygiene/OH&S reasons
  5. The hospital is unable take books, they can only take monetary donations
  6. The message gets lost
  7. The hospital wants to give the books to kids to take home
  8. The hospital wants to see the actual books prior to accepting them
  9. The hospital will only take them if they are posted

With all of these variable thrown at us, we soon realized that we had to be flexible to meet the needs of either the individual taking the call, the hospital or the donation protocol.  So guess what ? That is what we did.  We put our ‘flexible, accommodating’ hats on and tried to meet all of their needs.  Once we did this, we could achieve White Now and Brad Sugars’ goal of getting 1600 books to 100 hospitals.  What was so great about talking to the hospitals was that even if they could not accept the books, they usually offered suggestions about other hospitals that could.  Everyone seems to care which is simply amazing.

We have learnt a valuable lesson with this process and that is that you can plan and set up procedures to YOUR requirements, but the other stakeholders may not always be able to follow your procedures. You have to quickly adjust your strategy to suit everyone…… and that is just what we are doing;  Some books are staying in their factory wrapping, some books that were to be delivered are now being posted, some hospitals that were to receive books now are not receiving the books with other hospitals being added to the list, our formal letters change depending on the individual requirements of each hospital and soon there will be 1600 more books in Australian hospitals.

It is certainly true that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail, but when you are planning anything, build into the plan the flexibility to meet the needs of others as you cannot always predict others behaviours.

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Feb 02 2010

Making a special guy’s day at Australia Post

Category: The 'Read & Recover' Initiative - Helping sick kids!,ValuesJenny White @ 10:58 AM

 

It’s not every day that you walk into a Post Office and tell the guy behind the counter that you are not there to buy stamps, but you would like to buy 1600 kids books from him.  This is the story of Stuart from Australia Post.

I first went into the post office a couple of weeks back to simply look at the shelves to see what was available and decided that, after all our hunting for the perfect books to give to 100 hospitals that this was it !  I lined up in that all too familiar post office line that always seems to go out the door (why is that ? – that is a service/operations question for another conversation I think) and 10 minutes later arrived at the counter in front of Stuart. 

Stuart

“Hi Stuart, I’m Jenny and I am hoping to chat to you about buying a few books”.  Stuart in his happy, willing tone said “of course – what would you like”.  I informed him that I was looking at buying 1600 books and a heap of packaging and postage as well.  This was a sale that was worth thousands of dollars to the local post office and Stuart must have worked that out in his head pretty quickly as he then stepped out from behind the counter to come out and have a chat to me with no barriers like counters or tills.  From that point on, Stuart was focused on my needs.  Stuart was not a manager, he was a postal service officer, but for some reason, he seemed to take ownership of this with the skills of a manager.  I knew that Stuart was going to really help me from this point onwards.  I was looking forward to dealing with Stuart and secretly hoped that I did not get tipped to a manager instead.

I planned to go back once or twice more before sealing the deal.  I just had to confirm this spend with the key stakeholders in the initiative.  A week later, I went back into the post office expecting that Stuart would have been moved from the job and the manager of the business would take over the sale.  I was so pleased to see that when I went to the counter, Stuart was called to meet me “Stuart, that lady for all those books is here to see you”.  This was the manager calling for Stuart.  She had generously and rightly empowered Stuart to carry out the sale to its end.  So many times I witness a manager taking over from an employee thinking that they can do a better job.  An employee never learns how to do a great job unless they are empowered to do so.  I could tell that the manager had coached him a little by the questions that he came back to me with and that was great!  Stuart was on a roll.  He organized the order to a tee and promised to call me when it was ready so I could come in and pay!  I got the call as promised and went down to see him with credit card in hand.  What I had also done was put that special touch to the transaction, I had made a plate of Anzac biscuits for his team. 

After the transaction was complete, Stuart’s manager came out to thank us and of course, I spoke so highly of the efforts that Stuart had made in sealing the deal.  The manager then offered to personally deliver the books to the venue where we will pack them which I of course accepted.  We had made Stuart’s day and he had made ours….. I don’t know what was more rewarding for him; knowing he played some part in giving books to hospitals; making such a big transaction; or being the person whose customer brought him a plate of Anzacs. 

The moral of this is that in everything that you do, try and make someone else’s day and you will walk away with a smile on your own face every single time. Empower your staff to be great and they will come through with greatness ! 

PS: When it is time to send the books, the only person I want to deal with is Stuart !

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Jan 28 2010

A story that will touch your heart !

 It struck me today about how the human psyche works sometimes – especially mine………. 

In March 2009 my closest friend in Melbourne, a single Mum, gave birth to her first baby at the age of 42.  The baby (Luca) was delivered at 24 weeks. If you look closely at this picture, you can see the reality of the journey that a 24 week old baby was to face.  Check out the size of his hand on his Mum’s finger.  Luca was not expected to live past 25 weeks so everyone prepared for the finality of this little man’s life.  The priest was brought in, the family visited and said their farewells and the emotional support crew gathered round and feigned their strength in front of his mum.  It was a sickening feeling.  Usually I find a reason in any situation to laugh, but in this situation I honestly found no reason at all to be able to conjure up a smile let alone a laugh.  Whilst this was all happening, the new born across from Luca passed away in her humidicrib.  Suddenly there was an empty crib, no baby, no parents, no round the clock nurse- just a memory.   I felt a sort of guilt having my reasonably healthy 3 year old coming to visit in an environment that teetered on life or death at any second of each 24 hour cycle.  The days went on and with each day there was a new challenge, a new infection, a new blockage, a new operation to be had and so many tears.  The one positive thing was that it was 2 steps forward for every 1 step back.  Luca reached such milestones that you and I would not even think of; he reached 1 kilo; he did 1 poo; he took 1 ml of milk; he reached 100 days; it was a series of amazing accomplishments entwined with a bunch of devastating downfalls but, Luca kept on going.   Luca’s Mum was in the hospital every day for at least 15 hours, she often stayed overnight just to be there.  That ‘normal life’ stopped for Luca’s mum for 3 long months.  Eventually in June 2009 as he was about to hit 3kilos, Luca was able to leave the hospital and go home with oxygen in tow.  There was a positive future ahead.  

Luca is now a happy, gurgling, farting, belching, vomiting, pooeing, weeing, screaming and simply gorgeous baby with only minor disabilities such as deafness and respiratory problems.  I say minor, because hey, he really could have simply been an angel in our lives.  

This is where my own human psyche amazes me.  From that very first time I saw Luca in his frail body, I knew that if I could play any role in helping sick kids, then my hand would be raised with no questions asked. If there was an opportunity, I would grab it.   

At White Now headquarters, we are busy, working away on the next stages of the Read & Recover Program.  With the ante being upped By Brad Sugars from 150 books to 1500 the work had to be upped as well.  We are actually donating 1600 books to 100 hospitals now !  During the week, we were honoured to have a large club approach us wanting to assist in this year’s book donation initiative.  We are now in discussion with them to see how they can best assist.  Our Graphic Designer, who is 4 months pregnant, donated all the design work needed for the program.  We also have had so many people contact us either through our Facebook pages, or this blog offering their help!  Why do they contact us ?  They simply just want to help. 

 I think that there is something truly humbling about being able to help others but, as a parent, there is something so phenomenal about helping kids – especially those who are have any sort of illness.  

My heart goes out to all of those parents who have sick children or children with any challenge. It is said that having a child is to decide to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body.  Imagine if that heart were challenged with illnesses continually.

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Jan 21 2010

From 10 to 100 hospitals in one short email !

Category: The 'Read & Recover' Initiative - Helping sick kids!Jenny White @ 10:33 PM
Read & Recover

Sending books to kids hospitals !

Tonight at about 8pm I was putting my son to bed and had read him the final of his 5 books for the night. As he was just drifting off, the nagging, red flashing light on my Blackberry was pounding my periphery.  Although I get hundreds of emails a day, I still have this irresistible urge to check my emails as they come in (Note to self; must address that urge one day soon).

I had sent Brad Sugars from ActionCOACH an update email to let him know that the ‘Read & Recover’ logo was ready along with some other details about the project’s status.  The email was sent at 5pm Sydney time.  Brad was in working in Portugal and sent a reply email at 8pm Sydney time. It was a short and to the point email from Brad (as only Brad can do).  He had decided that he would up his ante and suggested that we expand the project from donating to 10 hospitals to 100 hospitals.  Well, I was glad I had finished reading books to my son by then as I was speechless and nearly fell off the bed. There was going to be no arguments from me or our team here. 

Once I had digested the information, I let the team know of the pledge and amongst the emotions, we all agreed that we were up for the challenge of making this happen. Making this happen means putting more smiles on more sick kids faces – THAT is our motivation.

So, as the night closes on another busy day of helping my fabulous team run www.whitenow.com.au and our other associated businesses, I plan to put my head on my pillow peacefully, knowing that there are amazing people out there who do amazing things for other amazing people.

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Jan 20 2010

The Read & Recover Initiative gets GREAT ideas from Facebook mates!

Category: The 'Read & Recover' Initiative - Helping sick kids!Jenny White @ 1:54 PM

 

1600 books to 100 Hospitals

The Read & Recover intiative, which is a joint venture between White Now and Brad Sugars from ActionCOACH (you can read about this amazing gift in previous posts) took its next  step – finding which kids hospitals people thought the 150 books should go to.

If there is one thing I have learnt in my years of running businesses, it is to always ask others for their input and ideas – whether it be your team members, clients, potential clients or simply people that want to add value to what you do.  With this in mind, our team put a post on the Wiz Whitenow Facebook site “Wiz WhiteNow” (http://www.facebook.com/wizwhitenow).   This is what the post said “Wiz WhiteNow is needing your help to recommend hospitals to us! We are sending 150 kids books to 10 NSW hospitals with kids wards. This is a gift we are giving jointly with the amazing support of Brad Sugars from ActionCOACH. The generosity of this entrepeneur is inspiring & the time and efforts of the White Now team are appreciated. Would you like to suggest a hospital that would appreciate the gift ?”

The response was amazing and we qiuckly gathered up the names of the first 10 hospitals named.  It shows that people can be so passionate about things that are close to their heart !  White Now and Brad Sugars would like to say a huge THANK YOU to the following people and their recommendations !

Hospital Suggested By
The Sydney Adventist Hospital Andrew Bassett-Smith                                    
Westmead Children’s Si Harris & Susan Churchill & Denise Ferguson
Gosford Hospital David Younie
Nepean Hospital Leah Gibbs, Emma Huszar, Tanya Westcott Gorton
John Hunter Hospital Leah Gibbs/Amy Waight
Sydney Kids Hospital Randwick Kathy Carnemolla, Damien Greig                                    
Royal Darwin Hospital Marianne O’Farrell
Coffs Harbour Hospital Sue Patterson
St George Hospital Garry Weston
Sutherland Children’s Ward Sue Jago

Our next step was to source the books – we searched high and low.  We wanted to look for books that were a mix of Australian authors and popular well known kids stories.  We went to many book shops, online stores, auction sites – you name it, we researched it.  The final decision was made yesterday and the books were bought.   The most amazing range that suited our needs were actually at an Australia Post shop – yep, it’s true.  To those who recommended the hospitals and to all of our friends and colleagues who are supporting us in this venture, thank you so much !  People are the true essence of life !

These are the authors and titles in case you are interested;

Author Title Title
Pamela Allen Mr McGee and the Big Bag of Bread Waddle Giggle Gargle
  Herbert and Harry The Pear in the Pear Tree
Graeme Base The Eleventh Hour The Worst Band in the Universe
  Jungle Dreams The Waterhole
Dr Seuss The Cat in the Hat Fox in Socks
  Green Eggs and Ham  
Beatrix Potter The Tale of Peter Rabbit The Story of Miss Moppet
  The Talk of Jemima Puddleduck The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit
Disney Cars – A friendly Crew Toy Story 2 – Toys to the Rescue
  Monster Inc – Monsters  Everywhere Little Mermaid – A Different Life
  Finding Nemo – Adventure in the Ocean Cinderella – The Magic of Dreams
  Sleeping Beauty – A Secret Princess Snow White – A Princess Hiding
Mem Fox Possum Magic Shoes from Grandpa
  Sail Away Hattie and the Fox
Roger Hargreaves Mr Strong Mr Messy
  Mr Noisy Mr Funny

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Dec 12 2009

The Birth of ‘Read & Recover’ – A Gift

Category: The 'Read & Recover' Initiative - Helping sick kids!Jenny White @ 10:25 PM

It is announcement day – have we been granted our wish ? I logged onto work first thing and found a message from Brad Sugars congratulating us.  I popped onto Facebook and saw this message “Brad Sugars says OK, here goes Sugars Clause has decided … Jon Byrne will get his wish for a trailer to feed the homeless … Renee Jones will get her wish to have a coach work with her charity … Karen Rita Ford will get presents for her kids for Christmas … my friend Jenny Wiz Whitenow will get books for the kids hospitals in her area …”

Our wish had been granted – there WILL be smiles on sick kid faces !  What a great gift ! First thing to do was send a thank you to Brad for his generosity in joining us in our Read & Recover program.  The second was to tell the team and the third thing was to cry.  Cry with happiness again that White Now could make a small difference to kids lives.  There is the feeling of happiness when you give to friends and family that results in a warm feeling inside, but giving to those really in need of a smile, brings a feeling that you simply cannot go past.  The team were over the moon and shared in the tears, and the process is about to begin.   We will commence this venture in the new year !

Read & Recover

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Dec 06 2009

Facebook is a Winner for Wiz Whitenow

Category: The 'Read & Recover' Initiative - Helping sick kids!Jenny White @ 10:19 PM

I was reading through Facebook and one of our Facebook friends is Brad Sugars – billionaire, entrepreneur, business success story and all round good guy !  He was looking to make someone’s wish come true and posted a Santa Brad offer that you could not beat.  He offered all of his 5000 plus friends on FB the chance to have anything that they wanted for Christmas.  You just had to post what you wanted.  I was simply amazed to see the responses. People wanted their house paid off, a new sports car, cash donations to start their businesses, free coaching from the coach himself, holidays to expensive resorts, you name it – they asked him for it.  I sat and wondered to myself.  Here is a man who has made his millions by working hard, being smart and being devoted to his future.  Here are also a bunch of budding entrepreneurs as his friends wanting to get a break from him and get some cash to get ahead in their career/business/personal life etc.  Amongst the hundreds and hundreds of requests there were a few who asked for monetary assistance to help others.  Here is witnessed the TRUE Christmas spirit.  There were a handful of people, who knows if they were wealthy and successful or lived in poverty but they asked for donations to help others.  The light bulb went on !!

I have spent many nights in hospital throughout the year with my 3 year old. He has by no means got a life threatening illness like many other children, but has been hit with pneumonia multiple times.  We have had such fantastic experiences in hospitals with people whose vocation is like no other – nurses !  If I could take my hat off to anyone, it would be them.  The hospital we usually go to has a reasonable range of books for kids, but many are old and tattered and if I was to be honest, they are from another era.   If there are two things that bring a smile to a sick, bed ridden child’s face, it is people and books. I then went to visit a range of other kids hospital wards and found that many wards had virtually no books.  I then put to my team the idea that we could start a Read & Recover program and donate books to these hospitals.  Everyone was on board and we were ready to post our Christmas wish on Brad’s wall. We want to give 150 books to 10 hospitals !  Let’s wait and see what happens !

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