Grow a Star!

From Rob Oerlemans Executive Officer

I had the great pleasure on 22nd of February 2012 week to attend the launch of the Compass Community Housing Services “Grow a Star” program.

This program is all about helping children in community housing in the Hunter Region to have taste of success. It’s about providing mentors and support to access opportunities in sports, academic activities and music. For more information about this terrific program, you can browse to their website at

The evening was memorable for a few reasons. Firstly we heard an inspirational address from ABC Broadcaster Craig Hamilton, who wrote Broken Open, dealing with his challenge to overcome bi-polar disorder. He spoke frankly and honestly of coming to grips with this illness, the impact on his career and family, and how he overcame it. It reminded me of our recent survey of Lions Clubs who ranked “Mental illness” as one of the top three issues we should be dealing with in the future.

Secondly, it would be a rare function indeed when I didn’t get to meet someone who has been helped by our Association. In this case I was seated with representatives of the Hunter Medical Research Institute who spoke glowingly about the support of local lions over many years for the important research being conducted. The message I recieved was about how important it is to sponsor early investigations and research that will enable the Institute to attract significant Federal research grants in the long term.

I also had the opportunity to speak with a number of younger business people, who are less familiar with the work of our Association, and hopefully open a few eyes and hearts to contributing in the long term.

Finally, however, the highlight of the evening were the games! We all know of those evening functions where you are stuck at a table, listening to speeches, eating too much food, and only meeting the two people either side? This wasn’t one of those occasions!

Instead we soon left the table for Twister, bowling, shooting baskets, kicking soccer balls…and the list went on. This was a great idea from the organisers and mirrored the goals of “Grow a star”. The program is all about building confidence, participation, leadership and ambition – and having a whole lot of fun. (As the leader of “Team Harragon” it was nice to take out line honours for the evening as well.)

Thank you so much to Compass Housing and Westpac Bank who hosted me for the evening.

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