For Knights CEO, Matt Gidley, the experience of sleeping outside for the night as part of the Vinnies CEO Sleepout has him counting the many reasons he is fortunate.
Thursday night was the second year he has been involved in the event that sees thousands of leaders in the business community sleep rough for a night to experience a taste of homelessness.
The annual CEO Sleepout aims to raise awareness about the issue of homelessness in the community while raising funds for St Vincent de Paul Society’s homeless services.
Around 35 CEO’s from the Newcastle and Hunter Community took part in the Sleepout at Hunter Stadium this year, a venue Gidley knows very well.
“It was a difficult night,” he revealed.
“The actual sleeping component of the Sleepout is always difficult.
“There’s not a lot of luxuries other than a sleeping bag and a cardboard box to assemble to give us a little bit of shelter.
“It gives you a real appreciation of the many luxuries we do have in life that we probably take for granted, that when you are homeless you’re not lucky enough to obtain.
“I really appreciated this morning having a long, hot shower and a cup of tea, and to be in a nice warm office today.”
Gidley believes the most valuable part of the night was meeting so many inspiring people from both the business world and those who have experienced homelessness first hand.
“I met a whole bunch of people last night and some wonderful CEOs who really care deeply about the community, particularly homelessness," he added.
“We’re all passionate about homelessness and want to do our bit to raise awareness and raise some funds so we can try and keep some kids off the streets.
“I met some really inspiring people. People who have lived with homelessness their whole lives.”
The Knights' CEO heaped praise on organisations, particularly the St Vincent de Paul Society that do a wonderful job providing services to the homeless.
He also had the opportunity to hear the stories of people who have stayed at the Matthew Talbot Hostel, which provides accommodation and support for homeless men.
“A lot of the stories were really inspiring but a lot of them were really sad as well,” he reflected.
“But for me, the staff that work in these places and the volunteers that work in the area of homelessness, I think they’re the true heroes.
“They are happy to sit under the radar and they don’t want the profile.
"There really are a whole bunch of angels in our community who care for people.
“It’s really important that we acknowledge that, so it’s wonderful to meet these guys.”
The CEOs involved in the Hunter CEO Sleepout have raised more than $80,000 dollars with John Cootes donating an impressive $20,000 personally.
“I’ve been really fortunate and I’d like to thank all the people who have contributed to my fund,” he said.
I really appreciate it and it’s going to a wonderful cause.
“It’s a really inspiring night for me.
“The sleeping component is tough, but other than that, it’s only one night,” he said.
“For every other night of the year I get to spend the night at home, under shelter in a warm bed.
“I have my wife and family, so I’m really fortunate.
"I think we’re really lucky, because many people don’t get to experience living at home."
It’s not too late to donate to Matt’s Vinnies CEO Sleepout fund. Click here to support this wonderful cause.