NOMINATE A FAMILY TO BE GIVEN A SPECIAL DAY OUT WITH THE KIDS
EVERYONE deserves a bit of fun and happiness, but unfortunately some families just don’t get enough of either! Trainworks, at Thirlmere have teamed up with White Now to provide an opportunity for TWO deserving families to enjoy a “Day Out with Thomas”. You choose who we send !
WHAT THE GIVEAWAY IS:
- FIVE (5) Tickets per Family for TWO (2) Families to attend “A Day Out with Thomas” on either Saturday 30th July OR Sunday 31st July 2011 - One (1) ‘Showbag’ of Thomas The Tank Engine Toys per Family
(Note: Trainworks is in Thirlemere NSW, near Picton. Families must be able to make their way to Thirlmere for the day)
HOW TO NOMINATE:
Click on comments under this blog (bottom right hand corner under text)
Complete the form (please note: name and email fields are mandatory so that we can contact you)
In the text box, tell us about a family that deserves a ‘Day Out with Thomas’ at Trainworks and WHY you believe they should be considered. (You don’t need to name the family if you don’t feel that it is appropriate.)
Together, we can make a small difference to families in need by putting a smile on their faces for just a couple of hours!!!
So please, tell your story about your nominated family in a COMMENT BELOW NOW ….!!!!
On Friday, 15th July 2011 one representative from Trainworks and one from White Now ! will choose the two most fitting nominations. Contact will then be made with the individual that nominated them via email so that plans can be discussed regarding collection of tickets and the showbag for each family. Tickets are not transferable & may not be redeemed for cash. A total of ten tickets & two showbags will be donated. This is not a game of chance
The sheep station where I spent my childhood was a three hour drive from the nearest town over dusty unsealed roads. The town had nine hotels and two grocery stores, and we only went there every six weeks or so to stock up on our supplies. Living in such a remote area meant we needed to be self-sufficient and resilient. We had a vegetable garden, sheep and cattle for our meat, and we kept hens for eggs.
Every year, we would order our hens from the city poultry farmers. They were only young, not much more than a year old, and were already considered “burnt out” by the egg farmers. We would order four dozen at a time – for about 20 cents (1 or 2 rand) a chicken!
We would drive the three hours into town and pick them up from the rail depot. They were transported in large cardboard cartons with little air holes cut out. We’d bring them back home, tie the dogs up, and open the boxes.
Out would fall the most bedraggled creatures we had ever seen. They were often featherless, their crests pale and shabby and their claws overgrown. They had spent their entire lives inside a cage in tin sheds under intense 24 hour artificial lighting, and were expected to lay to maximum capacity – sometimes two eggs per day.
They had never seen the sunshine or felt the earth beneath their feet. Some of them even had their beaks removed to prevent them from pecking their eggs. We let them out into the yard to learn how to be chooks – to pick at the green weeds, scratch for worms and bugs, and cluck at each other. After only a couple of weeks, their crests became a deeper, healthier red, their feathers grew back, and they even “walked taller”.
The most amazing thing was that they started to lay eggs again.
When we create environments that focus on who we are, that allow us to express our values and nourish us, then our natural talents and energy are released. The impossible becomes possible, and results exceed expectations.
By focusing on the who – allowing them to be the best they could be, the “what” came naturally. Of course they would lay eggs – that’s what hens do. So instead of saying “now go off and lay lots of eggs”, we let them rediscover how to be real chickens – and laying eggs was a natural consequence.
How often in workplaces do we ask our people to lay more eggs – turn the lights up, increase performance, keep producing – with the threat of replacement if they slow down? If we focus more on the nurturing of our people, providing the environment that allows them to be the best they can be, then the natural consequence is for them to do whatever it is they do. Trust that if they are healthy, stimulated, encouraged, and believed in, you will have all the eggs you need!
Organisations, governments, and individual consumers pour millions of dollars into working out ways to lay more eggs – bigger, cheaper, faster, quicker, more! We are constantly offered tools and gadgets that are supposed to make our lives better, yet we become involved in a cycle of replacing the unnecessary to do the necessary, and we lose the ability and sometimes even the knowledge of doing things for ourselves. Tools that are supposed designed to “make it easier” have made us less productive, and many people are burnt out, exhausted, tired, sad, depressed. In order to shift the focus from maximizing egg production to cultivating healthy and happy chickens, we have to challenge the assumptions and beliefs that have created our current situations.
It is not about being a better leader, which suggests that you have something “missing”, it is about recognising the qualities that already reside within you, and allowing yourself the courage to peel away the masks and layers to reveal the infinite creative energy of your real Self. The most courageous journey is the “inner journey” of self awareness.
By embracing and expressing the qualities that reside within, we develop comfort with ambiguity, confidence in uncertainty, and a willingness to celebrate diversity.
A leader is a person who serves through being trustworthy, inspirational and passionate. Leadership is not about role, position, salary, or authority. It is an innate quality in everyone, and leaders are at all levels of the community, family, and work place.
We lead how we live, and how we live our life is the way we leave the world.
Welcome to our guest Blogger – Karynne Courts from Values Connection who has donated her time to Blog for you some great lessons.
(Source: Karynne Courts, Values Connection (see www.valuesconnection.com.au for more inspirational stuff or to purchase the book – Journey to the Blue Road … an amazing book by an amazing person!!)
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 !
I received a phone call over 2 weeks from a mate that I have known for over 20 years, in fact he was the first person that I made friends with at my footy club when we moved over to Australia! He called me to confirm that I would be attending his 4oth birthday on the weekend of 27th March and we agreed that we would spend the day with one eye on the tv watching the Formula 1 highlights and the other chatting to various people! We laughed about it and that was that.
Then, Wednesday last week he rang me back. There was the usual banter and a brief chat about the first round of the F1. This was then followed up with “Hey mate, you know how my party was locked in for the 27th?”. “Yes”. “Well, we are going to have to postpone it for a later date”. “Oh! Ok. Is everything alright?”.
What followed was him informing me that he had been feeling a bit crook in the last week and so he had been to the Doc’s on the Monday and after a couple of tests that day, then a HEAP of tests on the Tuesday, they had decided to rush him in for an emergency procedure to remove a cancerous tumour from his right kidney. They would need to break a couple of ribs to do so, make an incision about 30cm+ long and he would be under for 4 hours or so!
He was (as always) pretty philosophical about the whole thing and said that it was great that they had found it and that the surgery was the cure and that in 95% of cases, that is the end of it!
So, last week he went in to hospital and had the operation and I spoke with his wife on the Thursday and then with him on the Sunday. He said that he was in massive pain, but that the op had gone really well and that they were talking about releasing him “soon”. The VERY NEXT day, I got a text from him to say that he was in the car on his way home! I was shocked, but told him that I would be over to visit the next day (yesterday)!
I was even more shocked when I saw the state of him yesterday when I got to his place! He could hardly move he was in so much pain and the poor bloke looked a lot older than his (almost) 40 years! I said to him, “What the hell are you doing back at home in this state?” (the terminology has been cleaned up for the purposes of the blog)!!! His response was along the lines of the hospital needed the bed and they offered to give him some strong medication to handle the pain and as he was ‘young and fit’ (young – defintely. fit – not so sure!!!) he should recover well .
Now, I am obviously NOT a Doctor, but there is no way my mate should have been let out of the hospital. I won’t go in to the gory details, but let me just say that he had not even cleared his system since the operation so they should have at least have kept him until that milestone had been successfully achieved! It should also be noted that he was released against the protestations of both his wife and sister AND that he was paying TOP DOLLAR in a private hostpital with a VERY good name!!!
I am gob-smacked that anyone would be released after such major surgery! And to let someone go home where there was not going to be any care for the first two days that he was back there is beyond me and quite frankly bordering on culpable in my limited opinion!!!
However, from all of this there have been some real positives:
Primarily that my friend is better and should be fine from here!
It has woken him up to his unhealthy lifestyle
And has woken myself and a couple of our other close friends up to theirs (unhealthy lifestyles). We have all agreed to getting a bit fitter and being healthier and to making some wiser decisions when it comes to our lifestyles (work vs play vs late nights vs parties vs etc, etc)!
Life is so precious, particularly when we all have kids involved! We should therefore hold on tight to it and take the time to look at what is important us and make the decisions required to ensure that we are around and about to enjoy each and every moment that we have to spend with those that we love and cherish as ultimately we are all mortal, which for (relatively) young Australian blokes to admit is a MAJOR milestone!!!
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;
The person we need to talk to is on leave
The person we need to talk to is unable to return our call
The Reception staff want to handle this themselves and won’t pass the call on
The hospital is unable to take books for hygiene/OH&S reasons
The hospital is unable take books, they can only take monetary donations
The message gets lost
The hospital wants to give the books to kids to take home
The hospital wants to see the actual books prior to accepting them
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.
Isn’t it funny how “Good Peoples” attract “Good Peoples” ???
I can quite honestly say that I work in a truly great organisation and am surrounded by a whole load of genuinely “Good Peoples” both professionally and personally. And sometimes things happen that reaffirm this, such as yesterday (a work day):
My fantastic MD arranged through one of her contacts for me to be taken for a drive in a BMW M3……………………..something that I have always wanted to do. (I openly admit to be a Revhead, but promise to do my best not to make this a car story as such !).
I was instructed to be at a certain location at a certain time and as my Dad (a fellow Car Tragic) was visiting from SA, he was also invited along for the ride. Upon our arrival we were greeted by the owner of the aforementioned M3 who saw my Dad was using a walking stick and so very kindly told us to wait there whilst he collected the car and brought it out the front. As this gorgeous charcoal-silver M3 pulled up to the collection point, Dad and I prepared to load ourselves in to the passenger seats, but the owner had another offer – one that quite frankly blew me away. He wandered over to me and handed me the keys to his VERY powerful and VERY expensive ‘pride and joy’ and told me that I would be driving.
Mouth agape and in a mouse-like voice I tried to decline but he insisted and so I climbed in to the driver’s seat and got myself comfortable.
I won’t bore you with the details of the drive as I know cars are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I will just comment that it was everything and more than I had imagined. I came back quite literally shaking with excitement, nervousness and awe. The car’s owner had happily let me have a pretty serious “go” and was quite obviously chuffed at my enthusiasm and enjoyment.
Upon returning to where we had set off from, we all went out for lunch where we shared a fantastic meal and some amazing company. Dad and I spent nearly three hours with a person that we had never met before and he had managed to clear his very, very busy schedule to make time for us ! Dad had a ball !!! He has been retired for a few years now and so rarely has the opportunity to mix in “business” circles which afford a level of intellectual conversation. I had the opportunity to spend some quality time almost one on one with a highly intelligent and very successful businessman and in doing so discovered a person of great integrity and passion – a person that enjoyed the opportunity to give with absolutely no expectation of anything in return. A truly “Good People” !
Yesterday was indeed a VERY special day ! I not only got to drive one of the cars of my dreams, but I had the opportunity to witness my Dad be genuinely happy (not that this is uncommon, but it is something that you never grow tired of) and I also got to broaden my network of “Good Peoples”.
To everyone involved (you know who you are)………………….THANK YOU ! THANK YOU !! THANK YOU !!! I wake up on a daily basis and thank my lucky stars for all of the wonderful things around me and yesterday was yet another moment to be thankful for !
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.
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 !
The Sydney Adventist Hospital
Si Harris & Susan Churchill & Denise Ferguson
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
Coffs Harbour Hospital
St George Hospital
Sutherland Children’s Ward
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;
I spent the night in a Children’s Sleep Disorder Clinic with my 3 year old wired up to dozens of wires. What an amazing place. In life you continually experience amazing things and amazing people. Last night was another example. From the minute we walked in the door at 6pm, the nursing staff treated my child like he was the most special child in the world. The truth is that he was one of three there that evening and they are open 5 nights a week and are full each night, so this is simply routine for them. At about 6.30pm in walks Emily. Emily was wearing a yellow shirt and not a nurses uniform so of course I had to ask the question, ‘what is your job here’. Emily told me that she was just a volunteer who came to the hospital 5 nights a week after work for 2 hours to help settle the children. Emily’s main job was as a preschool teacher. She wanted to give some of her skills back to those in need and chose the hospital to do so. She read to my child, played with him and generally made him feel comfortable. Let me just put this into perspective. Emily is 22 years old and works in a paid job (at not a huge salary) from 7am until 3.30pm. She then takes a couple of hours off and come back to non-paid work simple to give to others. I was blown away at this generosity and especially from a 22 year old who could be spending time with her friends. This morning, we spent time making a special card to send to the staff and a special card to Emily. We slipped into Emily’s card a small, department store voucher as a thank you.
We will more than likely never see Emily again but she has added to the smile on my child’s face. We hope that her special card shows that her efforts are beyond the call of duty and much appreciated. There is nothing more important than thanking someone for doing something that they did not have to do.
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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 !
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