That moment you’re in the ladies at a fancy awards night and your partner bangs on the door to tell you ‘C’mon this is you’!
So it wasn’t exactly an average Saturday night out for Andy and I two weeks ago, but it was memorable to say the least!
After taking out the ‘Best Home Based Business Award 2016’ at the Ballina Chambers Awards in August, last Saturday we attended the regional Awards held by the Northern Rivers NSW Business Chambers at the Lismore Workers Club, Lismore.
Heartfelt Homes was nominated in the ‘Business Leader’ category. We were up against ten fantastic Northern Rivers businesses, including the inspirational Cate McQuillen (dirtgirlworld) and we truly never expected to win! We were just there for the night out and to show our support to other business legends who were having their amazing work recognised.
So it was definitely not on my agenda to be giving a ‘thank you’ speech that night, and while I can talk about Heartfelt Homes ALL DAY LONG, anyone that was there would have been able to tell my surprise. And gratitude, so much gratitude.
You see Heartfelt Homes isn’t just a business to me, it’s not just a bunch of stats and facts and business plans that I have to remember when I’m pitching to future supporters and making offers of collaboration; Heartfelt Homes is the core of my family.
For those of you who don’t know; Heartfelt Homes was founded after my partner Andy was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013. His surgery and ongoing treatment was in The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, our kids were two and three-years old. Overnight, our happy little life changed and was no longer happy and comfortable. It now consisted of daily seven-hour round trips from Lennox Head to Brisbane, our kids were put in daycare for 12 hours at a time, and we were essentially ripped apart as a family. All while we dealt with Andy’s illness, and our fear of the future.
While making the exhausting trips on the highway day after day, I realised that there were empty hotel rooms right there next to the hospital. Hotel rooms that me and my kids could have stayed in while Andy was undergoing his treatment, if only we could afford it. And it hit me that mine couldn’t be the only family like this?
So I decided to do something about it and try to help the hundreds of other families, just like mine.
During this time when every single one of us were running on empty, I hung up my hairdressing scissors, and Heartfelt Homes was born.
Andy has overcome so much in the past few years, serious illness, huge surgeries, ongoing pain and constant hospital trips and not once has he ever let it beat him. He sees the good in everything and continues to be the best man he can be, the best daddy to Banjo and Kitty and the best partner anyone could wish for. He has the most positive outlook of anyone I know and I would not have achieved what I have with Heartfelt Homes if it weren’t for his support.
Together we have taken a crappy situation and made something so positive out of our nightmare and created a beautiful legacy for our children.
Pic above: Me with my rock, Andy.
So drying my proud tears and putting that aside, what does this amazing award mean for Heartfelt Homes, the families we help, and you; our supporters?
From day one I’ve had two priorities:
- To do my best for the families that need us.
- To do my best by the donors that support us.
With these elements at the forefront of everything that Heartfelt Homes does, I have built relationships and put business strategies in place to make sure that every single donated dollar stretches as far as possible to have the maximum impact on the families who need us.
I talk openly and passionately at every opportunity about the families we’ve helped, how Heartfelt started, and why you should trust Heartfelt Homes with your hard earned money. The families get placed, the testimonies pour in, the difference that Heartfelt makes in people’s lives is intense, and it’s very real.
We are currently supporting a family from country New South Wales whose young daughter was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago. Mum has been by Brooke’s side throughout her diagnosis, cancer treatment, and bone marrow transplant as any mum would be. With four other children to support and with Brooke now highly immune supressed and required to attend hospital on a weekly basis for monitoring and review, dad hasn’t been able to keep regular hours and their finances have started to suffer.
With thanks to our amazing donors, Heartfelt Homes has been able to step in and ease some of their worries by providing the family with clean and safe accommodation near the hospital once a week as Brooke and her mum travel from the country for her weekly tests.
So with families like Brooke’s at our core; to have our business acumen recognised by our corporate sponsors such as Brydens Lawyers, who donate monthly to sponsor a permanent room, is humbling.
To have it recognised by generous individuals who put their faith in us and give us their hard-earned cash to keep us going and to get nothing in return, is beyond generous.
To have it recognised by those who see businesses operating year in, year out and who know exactly what they’re looking for in a successful business, is nothing short of overwhelming.
So, while Andy, my very own private builder, is building us an awards cabinet as we speak; the real benefit of this award is not just an object to put on display (fancy as it is!) it is that more families will be helped. Increased awareness and exposure has already led to more people stepping forward to offer us their valuable support. The validation that Heartfelt Homes is run as an AWARD WINNING business gives our donors even more confidence in what we already knew, that we get the maximum value for every single one of their donated dollars. And we do it well.
The problem that I can’t solve fast enough, however, is that at this stage, we’re still unable to say yes to every single family every time. Families across Australia are still being ripped apart in their darkest hour due to lack of affordable accommodation near the big city hospitals. Wives and kids of rural of regional patients are still sleeping in their cars in cities because Heartfelt Homes isn’t represented enough throughout the metropolitan hospitals. And that makes me determined to keep going. Determined to take Heartfelt Homes to the next level so that we never have to say no to another family again.
With continued support from corporate sponsors, fundraising events held in the local community, individual donations of cash, and in-kind donations of goods and services; we continue to operate and increase our impact throughout Australia.
Please will you put your trust in us like the NSW Business Chamber has and help us continue to grow so that we can say YES to even more families across Australia?
Keeping a family of four together for three nights during times of medical crisis costs Heartfelt Homes $350. To make a one-off donation or to join our regular giving program, please click here and enter an amount of your choice.
Thanks to Lismore Workers Club is Lismore for hosting one of the proudest nights of our life, and CONGRATULATIONS to every single one of the other award finalist, we’ll see you in Sydney for the state finals on November 25!!!
NSW Business Chamber award winners, Sep 2016 :
Nathan Day, IC Signs – Tweed Heads
Young Business Executive
Kirsty Christensen, Fresh Dental Care – Grafton
Excellence in Innovation
Excellence in Sustainability
Stone & Wood Brewing Co – Murwillumbah
Excellence in Small Business
Solprom Coaster Kings – Ballina
Excellence in Business
Casino RSM Club – Casino
Excellence in Business Ethics
The Farm Byron Bay – Byron Bay