Variety, the Children’s Charity, is a national not-for-profit organisation empowering children who are sick, disadvantaged or who have special needs. Peter Harvey explains how YOU can get involved.
What prompted you to become involved in Variety, the children’s charity?
In 2001 at 13 months old, my daughter Eliza was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome – a rare condition that causes severe developmental delays.
Eliza was already in early intervention programs; however, once we had diagnosis and a level of understanding about her ongoing needs, her therapists suggested we seek funding support from Variety, the children’s charity, for equipment she required.
My family has experienced the work of Variety first hand and ten years on, Variety still plays an active role in empowering Eliza to live, laugh and learn.
In 2002 I decided that it was my turn to give something back to Variety and raise funds so that other sick, disadvantaged and special needs children could benefit from the life changing programs that Variety fund.
I joined to become a member of Variety Newcastle Region and took part in the annual Variety Bash. Since then, I have participated in 5 Newcastle Bashes, held positions on the Regional Committee and now find myself working full-time with a truly rewarding organisation.
What is Variety’s involvement with the Armidale and NE community?
In 2009, the annual Variety Bash meandered into Armidale and allocated some funding to Sandon Public School. I was on that Bash and remember the smiles of not only the children, but the entire school community when we contributed to the playground equipment.
Variety has no boundaries when assisting sick, disadvantaged or special needs children. In 2010, it is estimated that Variety funded 75 different medical conditions and had a positive impact on in excess of 30,000 children. Each year Variety receives submissions for funding from all areas across the New England, including Armidale, Inverell, Guyra and surrounding communities. The appeals process is transparent; however, the funding is discreet.
Therefore, there are many health professionals and clinicians working behind the scenes within the New England community to ensure every opportunity to improve the quality of life of an individual child or family is being maximised.
Give us an example of persons you have assisted from this area?
The exact recipients are confidential, but a couple of examples of the appeals that we have funded are wheel chair modifications for a family vehicle, wheel chairs, playground modifications and a children’s program funded through our Caring for Kids initiative.
What is your vision for this region?
Variety currently funds all applications from the New England out of Newcastle. Our Newcastle office is one of only two regional centres across Variety Australia and covers Newcastle, Hunter, Armidale, Tamworth, Mid North and North Coast.
These locations encounter high incident rates of special needs children, and appeals for assistance are significant.
Our vision is to establish regional branches across Armidale, Tamworth, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour co-ordinated by a Regional Committee responsible for fundraising initiatives to support the needs of their communities. We chose Armidale to be the first of our regional expansion, because the community has embraced us before.
We are really hoping to benchmark our results from Armidale when we establish the other networks. Essentially, Variety is looking for volunteers to form a committee and co-ordinate a few events per year and generate much needed income.
Tell us about the Variety Santa Fun Run?
Our first event on the Armidale calendar is fast approaching. On Sunday 27 November, Variety will be holding the annual Santa Fun Run/Stroll simultaneously across 6 major cities, as well as Newcastle and Armidale. Entry is just $25 per person, $50 family or $200 for a corporate team of 10. Your entry includes a Santa Suit and also raises much needed funds for sick, disadvantaged and special needs kids. Join us at Curtis Park for a 3 km walk along the shared cycleway and then head across to the Wicklow Hotel, where Santa’s Little Helpers will indulge in a sausage sizzle.
How can people sign up for the Santa Fun Run?
YOU NEED TO DO IT NOW!
Get your work mates, school mates, neighbours, family and friends and be a part of the inaugural Armidale Variety Santa Fun Run/Stroll.
Simply send an email with your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be sent a registration kit electronically, OR PHONE Kim on (02) 4965 4911.
How can our readers donate to Variety?
Donations are easy and most welcomed. You can visit our website at www.varietynsw.org.au and go to our DONATE NOW page. Alternatively, if a business would like to make a donation on the day in front of a large audience, we will have plenty of willing representatives waiting to accept the cheque.
Variety also has the facility for Workplace Giving. Deductions are made from employees’ salaries and donated to Variety. Did you know, if your business has 10 employees and you all gave $2 per week, you could give a disabled child much needed orthotics to help them walk unassisted. It is not expensive, when you realise that the rewards are priceless.
What’s coming up in 2012?
2012 is quite exciting for Variety. The changes to the not- for-profit sector with increased accountability will see a number of organisations either merge or dissolve. Variety is well positioned to absorb funding opportunities this will create.
In May 2012, Variety Newcastle Region will celebrate its 21st Bash. We are off to Lightning Ridge via Gunnedah, and it is already shaping up to be our biggest event yet.
The annual Newcastle Variety Bash raises in excess of $300,000 for the kids and is a week long celebration for 11 months of fundraising.