What is your dream?
My ultimate dream would be that every young person has the freedom to live their dreams irrespective of the environment they are brought up in. I would love to have every young person have a positive, constant mentor come alongside them to help get them life ready. Especially young
girls and women to value themselves and see their own worth as more than a comparison to something out of a magazine, but connected to having a genuine positive context or meaning for their life. I want to see young people able to have positive people alongside them to navigate the difficult emotional events and empowered to understand and articulate their feelings and explore the journey to a positive outcome for their future. In particular I want them to be able to be strong in resilience to avoid the pitfalls of addiction and masking their pain through alcohol, drugs and poor life choices. For young people to be empowered and encouraged to become powerful positive change agents within their schools, families, peer group and communities to change a generation away from substance use and grab life and a friend with both hands and reach a future that is brighter than they could ever imagine.
How did you find your passion?
My whole life I have been a bit of an over achiever however very self centred and focused on my own journey, sometimes to the detriment of others. I considered myself a successful person in my career - Automotive Industry and achieved many things that women couldn't and hadn't in that field. I truly had little time for others and particularly kids. However in my personal life and behind closed doors I wasn't really happy or what you would call successful. I'd been through a divorce by the age of 24, socially awkward, eating disorder since I can remember and thought I needed alcohol to be social. Although professionally successful, I hit rock bottom personally at 30 with having made very
poor personal choices and it was then that I found my Faith after calling out to God to help at a very low point in my life. As I explored this and grew in my faith I began to look outwards and began to be interested in a local high school and asked if I could help in any way. It was during my time assisting with mock interviews that I had my eyes open to just what kids were facing today in low socioeconomic areas and for the first time in a long time - my heart broke for their struggles just to get to school each day not even thinking about their future. I wanted to help them I just had no idea what to do. During another event at the school (which I might add was the most useless thing I have ever done in my life) I discovered the purpose for my life which is now my passion to aid young people. I overheard a conversation between a teacher and another presenter and they said "what we need is a mentor program to get these kids job ready" The light went on in my head and I knew
this was what I could do - a mentoring program - but not quite the same one that gets these kids life ready not just job ready! So began my journey. I now have mentoring programs in 4 high schools here in Northern Tasmania, just helped train a bunch of mentors for another organisation setting up on the East coast. Assisting another group in Hobart to develop their own soon and recently just equipped a team in Arizona USA to begin their own mentoring at a local high school there. The success stories from the program drive me daily. We began a Youth group to further assist the kids and they bring so many family members and friends along for support too. There has been opportunities here to assist parents too which has been great. We cannot blame the parents, the issue is now generational, they don't know any better in most cases - we need to change the cycle.
In addition we are now establishing Teen Challenge, Home of Hope, Women and Children rehabilitation centre here in Northern Tasmania, where women can overcome their addictions and those that have kids can still have them with them or have them restored to them when their lives are transformed through our program. In addition late last year we started a Drug Demand Reduction program #NotEvenOnce delivering to High School students the truth about substance use and the devastating effects it can have on their bodies and brains. We work to help the kids develop a resiliency and form a context for their lives through these projects so they no longer are fodder for the system and dealers. Empower them to become positive change agents in their communities. I left my career about 2 years ago and stepped out in faith and have never looked back. The money is not my driver anymore and I hated everyday I went to work. I am now so passionate about what I do
I love waking up everyday. I love seeing the kids thrive and make connections and take shape in their future.
Tell us about your dreams / goals for the next 12 months?
For the next 12 months I aim to have our Home of Hope, women and children's facility secured and operational. This will provide 12 women plus children if they have them, to overcome their addictions, regain hope for their lives and take their first steps to achieving their dreams as a distinct possibility where there had been no hope before. I want to have delivered the #NotEvenOnce Drug Demand reduction project to every Tasmanian High School, with progress being made for this to be a National delivery project. Mentoring to grow to increase each of the High Schools we now service to at least 50 mentors in the city high schools and 25 in the rural schools. Also to have encouraged, supported and assisted at least 2 external mentoring programs to commence with the state.
How will the scholarship support your endeavours?
The Scholarship supported my ability to travel to Arizona to immerse in the original Home of Hope, Teen Challenge centre and immerse in the program as part of a study tour. This has been invaluable for the opening of our own centre, equipping policies and procedures, organisational structures, coalface experience and so much more. We were also able to view several adolescent centres which has enabled me to vision for a centre here in Tasmania for adolescent girls initially and boys later. The mentoring program was a very happy surprise. One thing that I have highlighted as I get increasingly busier is the need to be mentored myself both spiritually and professionally. I believe this opportunity will help me in the latter.
Career highlight or biggest achievement?
As the world sees me I have achieved a lot professionally. I ran my own Ultratune Franchise from the age of 21 and worked on the tools as well as the business. It went from ranking 143 out of 147 national stores to top 10 in 2 years. I've been top of my game selling new vehicles in a male dominated field. I progressed into management running the largest Toyota Retail Sales Department in WA. I've run Dealerships at General Manager positions and achieved all I dreamed - the only thing I could have done better was own a Dealership. I started a training company and created sales programs and trained Sales people nationally. However all this I don't class as success anymore. Sitting with a student and seeing them in their lowest point with no dreams or aspirations and hearing them say they hate themselves - to seeing the same young person tell you what is great about themselves and their dreams for their future now and smiling. Thats success...... Working with a family that is totally destroyed by their loved ones addiction and the terror they have for their loved ones life, the despair and loss of hope - to hearing the parents so excited about the letters they are now receiving from their son or daughter and how they are telling them how sorry they are
for what they put them through, taking ownership of their actions and telling their parents how much they love them.....thats success. Having a young person walk up to you in tears at the end of a #NotEvenOnce presentation telling you how terrified they are, that their life is so bad that they believe they are going to start using drugs to deal with the pain - to sitting with them 30 minutes later with no tears, laughter and eaking out of them the positives in their life and the actual gifts they clearly have and a pathway with support moving forward....thats success. The fact I now have clear purpose in my life and that I now know what I want to do when I grow up.......help others experience exactly the same thing from any adversity.
How important is inspiration in your life?
Inspiration is everything. How do we succeed if we are not inspired?
Who’s your hero (and why)?
Jesus........he sacrificed everything to bring hope to this world that someone just like me with all the terrible choices I've made and things I've done in my life can have hope and freedom and live now to serve other people. But then you may have to be careful around faith things so second place would be Mother Teresa - she gave everything in the service of others so they may have hope and life.
How will you support your community in the future?
By developing the programs already running in the Mentoring and Drug Demand Reduction Projects in Schools and Communities. Helping other organisations and groups build their own mentoring programs at other schools. Home of Hope will support so many women and children get their lives back together and this will be an ongoing cycle. Supporting them back in society and onwards to the futures they deserve. Often they in turn reach out to others that have been in their own situation and the cycle of restoration becomes self perpetuating.
What’s the motto that you live by?
Don't leave this earth with regrets that I could have done something better.
80's Music 90's Music Son's of Korah Bethel Music Hillsong Foreigner Aerosmith The Cars.
All food but especially: Indian Spanish Raw foods Greek Chinese Japanese Korean oh my goodness just all food - mainly savoury though
The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis - still love it from the first time I read the series at 9 years old, I still re-read them from time to time.
Favourite TV Show?
Hmmm - I don't really watch TV anymore sorry.
If you had one message to share with other women chasing their dreams what would you say?
Never ever give up on yourself - you are worth it, each and every one of you is so special, so loved and so valued for exactly who you are not who you could be. Celebrate who you are right now!