Here is an article that was featured in the Tamborine Times.
The Escarpment Retreat and Day Spa owner Gary Poole is sleeping rough for the second year as part of St Vincent De Paul’s CEO Sleepout in Brisbane. The Sleepout will raise money to help the homeless and is attended by politicians and business leaders. Attendants are given two pieces of cardboard and have to sleep on a concrete floor to simulate a homeless experience.
The event is especially poignant for Gary who had spent most of his early teen years homeless, sleeping in toilet blocks and foraging for food after hours at his local markets before becoming CEO of a serviced apartment business in his 40s.
“I was 14 years old when I ran away from home,” Gary says, “a quarter of all homeless people in Australia are kids – below 18 years old”. He says just like all homeless kids, he was exposed to drugs and predators. “To survive, I made sure I slept in toilet blocks with two exits – so I always have an escape route if attacked. I made friends with other people and we would take turns staying awake to keep watch”.
His foray sleeping on a concrete floor during his first CEO sleepout was especially tough. “It brought back horrible memories,” Gary says, “for a number of days afterwards, I was a wreck.”
However he is persisting in attending the sleepout as he believes sharing his story and participating in the event will highlight the fact that the physical and mental effects of homelessness can be overcome. Gary remained homeless for many years and never reconciled with his family. Yet he has managed to win the Scenic Rim’s Business Person of the Year and the local accommodation business was voted the best toursim product in Australia this year by WOMO (Word Of Mouth Online).
“Giving people great accommodation is a spin-off of my homelessness,” he says, “but I know I can do more. There are lots of kids out there who like I was, have escaped abuse, have parents who cannot afford a roof over their heads or on the receiving end of an addiction or mental illness,” he says.
The largest donor so far has contributed $500, but my motto is "from little things, big things grow", so on behalf of the homeless, we are happy with any donation, no matter how small. You can find out more and donate on these websites: