Parramatta's business community assembled at the Courtyard by Marriott on Wednesday June 20 to be a part of Parramatta's Biggest Charity Auction supporting Parramatta Mission. Thanks to the auction and donations by the Mission's corporate supporters, the event raised nearly $40,000 for Parramatta Mission's Youth Services.
The auction featured a stunning range of items, including a Fender guitar signed by Bruce Springsteen, which sold for $2,000. Parramatta Mission's patron, former Australian Cricket Captain Mark Taylor, hosted the night. "Anything we raise tonight is good investment money really," he said. "We're changing these people's lives."
Mr Taylor recalled a visit to Parrahouse, one of Parramatta Mission's crisis accommodation centres, which caters for teenagers aged 14 to 18. "Unfortunately some of them have had too many life experiences for my liking," Mr Taylor said. "But they are great kids and they will certainly benefit from any money we can raise."
Mr Taylor later interviewed the Overseer of Youth Services, Nikki Zaouk. She said the money raised from the auction would help Parramatta Mission's services for young homeless people. "It will create extra beds. It will help us employ university-qualified staff that can deal with kids that are traumatised beyond what you can imagine. If we could have that kind of experience in our service, we wouldn't have to wait two months for a young person who's cut themselves all over their body to get in to see a psychologist."
One important donor was healthcare group, Baxter. Their contribution was a very generous $15,000. Area Managing Director Maree Coy was in attendance, despite an illness. "My secretary said to me, 'Are you really going to go tonight?' and I said, 'Well it's very hard not to when you think about it.' "This is about homeless people that have nowhere to go. I'm going to go to a nice warm room, eat some nice food and drink some wine. I really think in comparison to why we're here tonight, that's a small thing to do."
Entertainment for the night was provided by the Australian International Performing Arts High School. Students performed Somewhere over the Rainbow, Ain't no Mountain High Enough and a piece they composed themselves called Moving us Closer.
Principal Mark Hopkins said the school's involvement was about connecting students from the Parramatta area with their community. He also said the school would lend its students to perform at any corporate function for as much as companies were "willing to donate to Parramatta Mission".
The evening had the theme "the ultimate feel-good shopping experience". Parramatta Mission Donor Liaison Officer Marilyn Smith said it was "a wonderful opportunity to get people together, to see that they're not the only ones that are supporting the Mission. "Businesses are glad to be associated with the Mission and individuals discover what they can do when they are part of the community."