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Christine Mikhael to sleep rough to help combat homelessness

On June 20, Christine Mikhael will spend a cold night sleeping outdoors in a bid to raise funds and awareness for the 122,000 Australians that are homeless.

It will be the LJ Hooker Group CEO’s third St Vincent de Paul (Vinnies) CEO Sleepout, but her first as an official ambassador for the cause.

“I am honoured to once again participate in the CEO Sleepout as an ambassador to support the incredible work of Vinnies and the tens of thousands of volunteers who donate their time and efforts to help others,” she said.

Now in its 18th year, the sleepout involves hundreds of CEOs, business owners, community and government leaders braving the elements by sleeping outdoors without shelter to support Australians who are experiencing the same every day.

In her first two years doing the sleepout, Ms Mikhael raised $25,532 for Vinnies, and this year she hopes to raise a further $5000.

The money going towards providing food, accommodation and essential services to people experiencing and at risk of homelessness.

“I am deeply committed to making a difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness,” Ms Mikhael said.

“Together, we can create a lasting impact and help bring about positive change in our community.”

Ms Mikhael wil attend the Sydney sleepout at White Bay Terminal in Rozelle and said there would be no creature comforts.

“Participants are given a piece of cardboard to sleep on and one to tent over us in a V formation,” she said.

“We can bring one sleeping bag and the clothing we choose to wear – no creature comforts like heated garments or hot water bottles.

“The last two years have been very different.

“In the first year, we had clear skies, but the ‘feels like’ temperature dropped below zero.

“Last year, it rained heavily, and the wind was strong.

“Both experiences were uncomfortable but provided only a tiny sample of what our homeless endure night after night, sometimes for years on end.”

Ms Mikhael said her involvement reflected LJ Hooker’s commitment to addressing homelessness.

“The need for shelter and a place to call home is at the core of the LJ Hooker Group,” she said.

“Every day, we help people buy or rent a home. 

“While this is a joyous occasion for so many, I never lose sight that this is not the story for all Australians, and homelessness is real and severe.”

Ms Mikhael said the Australian real estate industry was incredibly philanthropic already, but there was still more that could be done.

When you boil it down, we help provide shelter for those who can afford to buy or rent,” she said.

“However, I would love to see the industry extend its support to those who cannot afford their own place, through volunteering, raising awareness, and/or fundraising to help charities support the homeless.”

Last year, 1490 CEOs, business and community leaders participated in the sleepout and raised more than $8.9 million. 

Ms Mikhael said her personal connection to Vinnies dated back to her high school years in 1987 when, as a year 11 student at St Leo’s College, she participated in a Christian Brother’s excursion that included visits to youth hostels, prisons, and other community services. 

The experience had a profound effect on her and her peers, inspiring them to create a Vinnies School Conference at St Leo’s, and later establish a Vinnies youth group in Hornsby.

“I was actively involved in running dawn patrols in the city to help connect with homeless kids, men, women, and even families, with a meal, clothing and a place to sleep at a local shelter, like the Matthew Talbot Hostel,” Ms Mikhael said.

“Soon after, I took on the voluntary role of being the Youth Rep of the Broken Bay diocese for Vinnies, where I was actively involved in helping other volunteers become part of one of Australia’s largest volunteer organisations.

“Today, Vinnies continues to run these youth groups in schools and parishes known as Vinnies Youth.” 

St Vincent de Paul Society NSW CEO Yolanda Saiz said the Vinnies CEO Sleepout Ambassador Program was established to connect active and engaged participants to make a strategic contribution to the event and lead by example.

“As influential leaders who can deliver powerful messages about the work of Vinnies and the issue of homelessness across our country, Vinnies CEO Sleepout Ambassadors are change-makers in key industry sectors who work to recruit peers and raise the profile of the event,” she said. 

“Christine exemplifies these attributes through her participation in the event since 2022.

“Outside of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, Christine has a long-standing connection to Vinnies and we are delighted to know that she has joined this group and will continue to elevate this important cause.”

The Vinnies CEO Sleepout will take place on 20 June 2024 across multiple locations in Australia. For more information or to make a donation, click here.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.