09 April 2018
I’ve been fortunate that I’ve never needed to use Cancer Council SA’s service myself. It was only when I started talking to friends about this idea that was brewing—about shaving my beard for charity—that I even heard about Flinders Lodge. A friend of mine suggested it as a worthy recipient of the fundraising, and when I got talking to people, the support came flooding in.
I picked up the phone to speak to Ravi, the manager. Having not experienced staying at the Lodges myself, I wanted to get the full story. This conversation sold me. I could tell that Ravi was passionate about what he was doing, and that they were always looking for funds to renovate and upgrade the rooms to ensure the guests had the nicest possible stay.
Ravi told me that for every $850 raised, they would be able to upgrade one room. That sounded like too small a goal to me, so I set my sights on raising $1,700 to cover two complete rooms. In the spirit of upping the stakes, I also told everyone that if we hit that goal, the beard and the hair would go together.
I was at the farmers’ markets one morning, collecting donations in my Santa’s Boot collection tin, when I struck up a conversation with an old friend of mine from the Berri Lions Club. He got the word going, and before I knew it, the Lions had donated the profits from an entire sausage sizzle, and topped up their funds to the tune of $850. Seeing that money come in, I thought, ‘we can do better than $1,700’. That’s when I started talking about upping the ante to three rooms.
It just kept snowballing. A couple of nights before the big shave, I received a call from my brother in Adelaide. I told him that we were about $123 from raising enough to do three rooms. That’s when he told me that he’d just sent over $120 the day before, and that there’s no way I’d be getting out of bed for $3. Well, we had no choice but to aim for four rooms instead.
When the day came and the beard came off, I wasn’t upset. If anything, I was overwhelmed with the sense of achievement that I felt—by doing this one simple thing, I had made a real difference in people’s lives.
Now, having had a chance to visit Flinders Lodge and see for myself where the money is going, I’m so glad we raised the amount we did—$3,515. The first thing that hit me when we pulled up was the sheer size of the site. You look at all the rooms and you think, ‘that many people are in need of this accommodation’. Behind each door is a story, right now. Added to that, I knew that Greenhill Lodge was just around the corner, where more guests were staying. It just really hits you that these people are so deserving of a comfortable place to stay during a difficult time.
I lost my mother around 30 years ago, when my boys were 11, nine and six. It was only around three months after being diagnosed that she died. Then my nephew had a rocky journey before succumbing to neuroblastoma four years ago. I’ve seen the devastating impact that treatment can have on every aspect of your life, and can only imagine what a relief it is to have this accommodation service available at a time like that.
We’re already looking at next year, and how we can expand on our efforts. With a little organisation, I think that we can make this really powerful. We’ll get more Lions Clubs on board, and promote the event better throughout the Riverland. This year’s event has proven that people are ready to give for a good cause, particularly when almost everyone knows someone going through cancer. For me, I’ve never had to use a bed at Flinders Lodge, but I know that one is always ready for me if I need it.
In the past year, 8,979 guests have stayed at Cancer Council SA Lodges while in Adelaide for treatment, receiving subsidised accommodation and meals, free transport to and from treatment, and strengthening the Lodge community by participating in morning teas, shopping trips and more. If you would like to learn more about our Lodges and support services, please call 13 11 20.