On Wednesday 9 June, 40 high-profile corporate leaders gathered at the stunning MPA headquarters in Sydney for a networking breakfast to learn more about leading children’s cancer support charity Redkite, and how corporates can help raise vital funds through staff-engagement initiatives like Dry July.
With Dry July Ambassador and former Redkite board member, Adam Spencer as MC, guests heard from Andrew Watson, Strategic Consultant at W5 Solutions; Redkite CEO Monique Keighery and Troy Clancy, Project Director at MPA.
Andrew Watson, who is also a long-term Redkite supporter and served on its NSW Regional Council, shared the story of his son Liam’s cancer diagnosis and treatment.
He highlighted the fact that each family’s experience of cancer is different and comes with its own unique set of challenges. For his family, these included his son having to learn to walk again and needing tutoring to catch up on missed schooling.
“What they don’t tell you is that your cancer journey is about waiting – to see the doctor, for test results – you are always waiting. What they also don’t tell you is that you become addicted to hospital. The only safe place for you and your child is the hospital and once you’re back out you feel incredibly vulnerable,” he said.
Monique Keighery, Redkite’s CEO, said that often it is when families return home from hospital that they need Redkite’s support the most – especially emotional and mental health support in adjusting to life after their child’s treatment or, as was the case with Liam, practical support in the form of an education grant to mitigate the disruption in their learning and development.
She went on to highlight the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the work of Redkite and the families it supports.
“As well as the fear of the virus itself, especially while living with an immunocompromised child, families faced increased separation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only one parent could be at hospital and siblings were not allowed to visit. All these factors took a huge toll and there was a surge in demand for our support – at a time where our revenue was hit by some of our corporate supporters no longer being able to provide funding.
“It was a tough year for Australian business, and we were so grateful to those corporates such as MPA that were able to step up and keep Redkite going,” she said.
MPA specialises in commercial interior fitout and refurbishment projects of various scale and size, and the company’s partnership with Redkite goes back 11 years. MPA Director and Founder, Ed Singleton, is actively involved with Redkite as President on its NSW Regional Council.
MPA Project Director Troy Clancy shared his passion for supporting Redkite and described some of the benefits that he sees MPA employees gaining from the partnership.
“My involvement with Redkite goes back six years when Ed asked me to visit Redkite’s former offices to look at a broken blind. We subsequently furnished those offices, around the time that my second child was born, and Redkite’s work just hit a chord with me. MPA then went on to build the Redkite office in Elizabeth Street, branching out to our network to do the job under cost.
“MPA has been involved in a number of fundraising initiatives for Redkite such as the Corporate Quiz, City 2 Surf and now Dry July. Staff engagement is massive with competition between teams and there are huge health benefits. Our partnership with Redkite creates a better place for MPA staff to work – there is a sense of the Redkite and MPA families coming together and adding value,” he said.
Adam Spencer called on the corporate leaders present to consider taking part in Dry July – either by engaging their whole organisation or taking part individually.
“Whether you get on board as a company or play off internal teams against one another, Dry July is a lot of fun, it unifies people across your organisation, and hopefully raises a lot of money for Redkite as well,” he said.
“One really simple way that people can make an impact on young people facing cancer is to take part in Dry July raising money for Redkite, because Redkite is one of the beneficiaries of this great campaign. Giving up alcohol for a month is a really simple way to connect teams across your organisations, increase employee engagement and improve staff wellbeing,” Monique Keighery added.
Andrew Watson ended with the words: “The support services that a family facing childhood cancer needs is wide-ranging and it’s needed at very different times. Redkite is there for that whole journey and your dollars go to their services. This is a special organisation that helps many families.”