Stars from TV, film and radio as well as the political and business worlds, lined up to support Father Chris Riley’s gala fundraiser last Saturday night. Ably assisted by Youth Off the Streets major event sponsors, ClubsNSW and the AHA, the charity raised over $350,000 towards their remarkable work.
2GB’s Ben Fordham was MC for the Gala Dinner which marked the 25th anniversary of Youth Off the Streets. Guests of honour included NSW Premier Mike Baird, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells who read a special message from the Prime Minister, actor Eric Bana (Youth Off the Streets Patron), and of course, charity founder Father Chris Riley.
One of the many highlights of the evening was a speech by Kim Lyons/Kamara and her daughter Lilly Lyons. Both are survivors who have been helped by Youth Off the Streets programs. Kim came from a dysfunctional family and found herself homeless at 14, and Lilly became the target of sexual assault from a very young age. Lilly, now fourteen herself, uses her experience to help other young people in similar positions.
Ben Fordham was so impressed with Lilly’s poise, commitment and positive manner that he invited her to co-host his national radio program on Friday evening. Premier Mike Baird was similarly impressed and extended an invitation for Lilly to be “Premier for a day” with him.
ClubsNSW, a long-time supporter and partner of Youth Off the Streets, hosted two tables at the event and were represented by Anne Fitzgerald, Trent Sutton, Rowan Cameron, Amanda Grannall and numerous club supporters including St Johns Park Bowling Club and City Tattersalls.
ClubsNSW also pledged an additional $10,000 on the evening to support YOTS latest initiative – a mobile classroom/teaching unit to reach out to troubled youth regional centres like Bourke.
Scott Leach, President of AHA NSW, said that the Australian Hotels Association have been involved with YOTS for around 15 years. The AHA generously donated a brand new Toyota Corolla Sedan as the major raffle prize of the evening.
Mr Leach said that YOTS was a great organisation that they were proud to be involved with because they were so proactive in the community and always deliver on their promises. He went on to say that the Government can only do so much and that it was vital for businesses and the community in general to get involved to make positive change happen.
Overall the event raised more than $350,000, including an extraordinary single $100,000 donation from the very generous Anna and Simon Ainsworth.
To find out more about Youth Off the Streets, go to https://youthoffthestreets.com.au/
To see some of the photos and footage from the night go to:
Feature image: Scott Leach, President AHA NSW and Father Chris Riley, Founder Youth Off the Streets