Steph Got a Full House

Steph White was asked to speak to Year 12 students at her school last week on the theme of ‘passion’. The Year 10 student spoke to the senior students about family violence, its impact on women and children and how they could help. Her appeal at the end of her talk was to promote a movie night on July 24 to raise money for McAuley Community Services for Women. It was a ‘pitch’ she repeated to the Year 10 and 11 students in a bid to fill the Palace Balwyn Cinema. The sales pitch worked and Steph raised $820 for McAuley Community Services for Women.

Steph organised the screening of Paper Towns not just to raise money, but also as a way of creating awareness of family violence. She said the media reports, particularly since the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence began this week, do not always convey fully the impact of family violence on the people involved. And Steph has come to know the stories behind the family violence headlines since she agreed to become McAuley Community Services for Women’s Youth Ambassador.

“At school there is a focus on global issues and supporting projects in developing countries which I think are really important. But I also believe we need to focus on issues that are more local, that would affect some students in our own school and in the community where we live,” Steph said.

Steph’s relationship with McAuley Community Services for Women began just before Christmas 2013. That’s when Steph had a wake-up call.

“Our family had a Kris Kringle with a $50 budget for presents and I could not think of anything I wanted for under $50. This made me stop and think, because although $50 is certainly enough money for a present, I realised that I was being selfish when complaining about the price limit for gifts. I also realised that I did not need anything more. I already have so much in my life - family, friends, a great education and many other things,” Steph said.

Steph asked for her Kris Kringle money to be put towards an international aid project, until her uncle Ian Grisold, who was buying for her that year, told her about the work of McAuley Community Services for Women. Steph was soon in contact with our organization and the relationship has grown since then.

Steph’s Kris Kringle gift has kept on giving to McAuley Community Services for Women. She has initiated fund-raising events at her school and in the lead up to Easter Sunday she collected dozens of Easter eggs from students that were distributed to the women involved with McAuley Community Services for Women services including McAuley House, the five refuges and the McAuley 24/7 safe house.

Steph's grandparents Vivienne and Howard Tonkin were the first to buy tickets, having supported Steph in her fundraising efforts since Christmas 2013.

Caption: Steph White and her grandmother, Vivienne Tonkin, were delighted that Paper Towns helped raise money and awareness.