Benson Auctions Director Stu Benson has used his local Facebook group, Dads of the Hills, to raise funds to buy exhausted frontline health workers a cup of coffee.
Originally, Mr Benson aimed to raise $400 to send a coffee van to Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, after speaking to a paramedic friend in the group about how tough conditions had been for frontline workers amid the pandemic.
But in just a few days the group has raised almost $10,000 and quickly decided to expand the initiative to other hospitals in the region.
“We were acutely aware of these frontline workers as there are nurses, paramedics and doctors amongst our group that are just exhausted at the moment,” Mr Benson said.
“On the sidelines, it’s hard to offer them anything other than well-wishes.
“We wanted to work out a tangible way we could give back, in just a little way. The response has been incredible.”
After quickly reaching $1500 and a local pizzeria also getting on board, Mr Benson was surprised by just how fast the initiative grew in less than a week.
“Now the aim is to do multiple sites, multiple hospitals with coffee, hot chocolate and pizzas at every event for as long as we possibly can,” Mr Benson explained.
“While the vaccination rate is increasing, which is great to see, there is still a lot of strain on our hospitals so for as long as we can help, we will – if that includes multiple sites and the budget fits, we’re all for it.”
The Dads of the Hills Facebook group was launched in 2019, aiming to facilitate referrals to local businesses, as well as provide a private men’s community to speak about mental health and check in on one another.
“From humble beginnings, we’re now approaching 8000 local members from all walks of life,” Mr Benson said.
“I just thought if there was anywhere that was going to come together to help me with this initiative, it was going to be the local dads, and they did.”
While none of the dads were seeking recognition for the initiative, Mr Benson said the response has been heartwarming.
“Word is spreading through chat groups within the hospital itself and we’re getting messages now from nurses, doctors and paramedics thanking us for what we’re doing,” he said.
“They’re just grateful for what we’ve been able to do as a collective.”
As an auctioneer, Mr Benson felt it was important to be an active member of his community.
“Me being such a visible part of the community speaks to the success of my business in my local community. Any good practitioner will reinforce that a real estate agent is someone who is very public-facing, so you do have a voice,” he said.
“The lesson learned from this is I would encourage any other agents who have a voice on a social media platform to do the same. There are hospitals everywhere that could do with an initiative like this. It would certainly be a good idea for other real estate practitioners.”
Mr Benson has shared the initiative on his personal Instagram page, aiming to raise further awareness and encourage “other groups, agents or businesses to use their platform to do something similar”.