Homes for Heroes
“No other individual club or sub-Branch has done more for this cause.”
Mr Dean Thomas, Chairman of the RSL & Services Association and CEO of Canterbury Hurstville RSL Club, at the Homes for Heroes Penrith Facility Opening, held at Penrith RSL Club in November 2016.
Since its inception in 2015, Penrith RSL Club and the City of Penrith RSL sub-Branch have been huge supporters of the Homes for Heroes Program. Upon hearing the devastating statistic that thousands of young veterans were and still are, ‘sleeping rough’ across our country each night as a result of their service, our Board of Directors and the Executives of our sub-Branch could not sit idly by. Both parties committed $10,000.00 per year, for a period of three years, a joint commitment of $60,000.00. We were the first RSL Club to sign on in support of the Program and we continue to support them whole heartedly.
Now in the third year of our commitment, we are proud to say that we didn’t stop at $60,000.00. Since 2015, we have also held an annual Race Night Fundraiser for Homes for Heroes, raising over $15,000.00 in May of 2017. Funds from these fundraisers, as well as the Honour our Heroes Relay Walks, plus monies raised by our club on ANZAC Day and through donations from drink sales, has contributed an additional $41, 274.80 to Homes for Heroes, a total donation amount of $101,274.80 to date.
However, we understand that support is not always just about writing a cheque. Originally based in Narrabeen, the Homes for Heroes Program opened its first dedicated Homeless Veterans Accommodation in Western Sydney, with a Homes for Heroes wing opening inside the Governor Phillip Manor at Penrith. The official opening was held here at our Club in November of 2016, however prior to the opening, members of our Board, our sub-Branch, RAAF Glenbrook, the Australian Public Service and the Army provided help to prepare the facility for its first residents. The volunteers helped the Homes for Heroes team equip the facility with computers, dining room and outside furniture, including a BBQ and assembling flat packs.
In April of 2017, members of our Board and sub-Branch volunteered their time once again, alongside Bunnings and Mittagong RSL sub-Branch to attend a Working Bee at the Homes for Heroes Penrith facility, helping with painting and refurbishing the wing.
In 2017 our sub-Branch Welfare Officer began volunteering his time at Governor Phillip Manor to provide welfare support for Homes for Heroes residents, as well as other residents of the Governor Phillip facility. His generous work is done in addition to the ongoing support he provides our sub-Branch members, local veterans and their families from his office at Penrith RSL Club.
In June of 2017, we also begun construction of a new Veteran Drop-In Centre. Once completed, it will be located inside Penrith RSL Club, in the new spacious and modern sub-Branch offices that we are currently building. The centre will provide a safe haven for those veterans suffering from PTSD, or for those just looking for a friendly face and a chat with a mate.
The Veteran’s Centre, although located within Penrith RSL Club, will have its own separate entrance, manned by sub-Branch personnel. In addition to ease of access, our club and sub-Branch realise that Veterans suffering with PTSD may also have substance abuse or gambling issues, so a separate entrance removes any exposure to possible temptation.
The sub-Branch have signed up some residents from the Homes for Heroes program at Governor Phillip Manor to run the facility once it is operational. Our sub-Branch Vice President Mr Brian Cartwright describes the new centre as “mates looking after mates”.
This is a cause that is very close to the hearts of our Board, sub-Branch, Management and Staff and we are very proud to have contributed what we have to this outstanding program.
“No one who defends our home should be without one.”
Mr Michael McConnell, President of City of Penrith RSL sub-Branch.