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Courageous Conversations: Why Madelyn Jones turned her back on a corporate career to address homelessness, one gift box at a time

Many real estate agencies strive to do good in a way that extends far beyond just servicing their clients and community. Here, The Good Box founder Madelyn Jones shares the story of an inspiring social enterprise that the real estate industry is rapidly embracing.

When events manager Madelyn Jones found herself walking past the same homeless man every morning in Sydney, she knew there must be something she could do.

Confronted by the issue of homelessness in a big city, she didn’t want to become the type of person who averted their eyes, or worse yet, made jokes.

The problem weighed on her, upset her and ultimately saw her take action in the form of a social enterprise called The Good Box, which she co-founded in 2018 with Gali Blacher.

Each year, The Good Box now distributes tens of thousands of hand-packed gift boxes to partner charities who then hand the boxes out to the people who need them most.

The aim is to provide a box packed full of new items that people experiencing homelessness need depending on their situation.

There are boxes for men, for women and for people sleeping rough with their pets. Each box is purchased by an individual or corporate sponsor and contains a handwritten note.

In addition to providing much-needed items, the gift boxes help start a conversation and build trust.

In this Courageous Conversation with Leanne Pilkington, Madelyn shares the occasionally tough journey of The Good Box, including how it went from something she did part-time to a full-scale social enterprise that saw her willingly walk away from a promising corporate career.

She also offers an insight into how and why real estate agencies are getting behind the initiative to donate a Good Box on behalf of their clients as an alternative to the traditional settlement gift.

“The thing with homelessness is it’s not just one type of homelessness. It’s extremely multifaceted. And so our mission has always been to make sure that we’re catering to all different types of homelessness.” Madelyn Jones.

Leanne and Madelyn also discuss:

  • The multifaceted nature of homelessness, and how something as simple as a box of needed and new items fills a gap that funding often doesn’t meet.
  • Why Madelyn made the choice to give up a high-paid career to pursue something she believed in and how coronavirus shaped that decision.
  • How Madelyn and co-founder Gali Blacher overcame some major challenges along the way including not being taken seriously due to their youth.
  • Why and how The Good Box team pushed through even when there were times it looked like they may not have the means to go on.
  • How a Good Box caters to a need that is far greater than just providing personal items, and why it helps charities form a connection.
  • How agencies can get involved and why The Good Box is proving an ideal alternative to a traditional settlement or post appraisal gift.
  • Why pursuing a vision and taking a leap was the best decision Madelyn ever made.

And much, much more

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Leanne Pilkington

Leanne Pilkington is Chief Executive Officer and Director of Laing+Simmons.


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