11 May 2020

Giving to sick children helps build business community spirit, too

| Genevieve Jacobs
Claudia Vannithone and Peter Chamberlain

Claudia Vannithone from the ACT branch of the Starlight Foundation receives a giant cheque from Peter Chamberlain of Allinsure, a longtime donor. Photo: George Tsotsos.

For Canberra businessman Peter Chamberlain, there’s no better way to engage with the community than by giving. And if that involves a giant cheque for children going through the toughest of times, then all the better.

“At the end of your life, do you want to be known as someone who ran a great business? That’s OK. What about someone who raised a great family? Well, of course. But to be remembered as someone who gave more back to others and did something better for the community – that’s the key focus for everything we do.”

The $10,000 cheque he’s just presented to the Starlight Children’s Foundation will go a long way towards their work with desperately sick kids, many of whom are enduring painful and difficult treatment.

Founded in 1982, Starlight Foundation programs offer entertainment, education and technology to critically, chronically and terminally ill children. Here in the ACT as elsewhere around Australia, Starlight grants once-in-a-lifetime wishes, manages online support networks and sets up playspaces inside hospitals.

Captain Starlight performers are professionally trained to connect with dance, music, art or performance, and help sick kids through their most challenging moments.

Peter Chamberlain is one of the ACTs most generous supporters. He’s been involved for around 10 years after being tapped on the shoulder by Margaret Job, who brought the charity to Canberra after realising local kids rarely got the same opportunities offered to those in bigger cities.

“I have a couple of daughters who were young at the time and I could see what a fabulous cause it is,” he says. “We bought a table for the ball and it’s gone from there.” He recently met the local Captain Starlight performers, too.

“I’ve been brought up to believe that its incumbent on those who enjoy some kind of success or privilege to give back,” he says. “We’ve translated that into the workplace at Allinsure where we give people the opportunity to volunteer their time as well as money for the charity of their choice.

“It builds a great culture within the office. Culture starts from the top and filters its way down in any business. You need the right fit and the right team, and that goes through everything from the leadership team to the way we treat our customers, to how you treat others in the community and what you can do for them.”

In a town the size of Canberra it’s also perhaps inevitable that you’ll meet people who have benefited in some way from that giving culture. Peter founded and ran the CBR Brave ice hockey team and recently learned that the team’s coach had used a wish for a seriously ill child.

Claudia Vannithone received the cheque on the Starlight Children’s Foundation’s behalf and says that local generosity makes an amazing difference to effective fundraising here in Canberra.

Since 2006, the ACT has raised close to $3 million. Unlike almost every other Starlight Foundation event around the country, the Canberra ball is close to cost-free thanks to very generous donations including the food and alcohol and a significant contribution from Ginger Catering at the Arboretum.

“Our model is pretty much unique”, Claudia says. “The donations mean that a great majority of funds go straight to the Starlight Foundation and programs here in the ACT. So many locals and businesses get behind us with in-kind support and we appreciate that deeply”.

Original Article published by Genevieve Jacobs on The RiotACT.

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