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Queen of Hearts Foundation closure final

By Ellen Hill for Queen of Hearts Foundation

A proposal to continue Penrith-based child sexual abuse and domestic violence support service the Queen of Hearts Foundation under a revised business plan has been declined by the board.

The final decision was made “with heavy hearts’’ by the four-member board at a meeting on Tuesday [November 27].

It follows an approach to operate the charity service under a revised business plan with a new CEO after the notice to Queen of Hearts Foundation members in October of the board’s intention to wind up the charity.

Last month it was reported that the foundation established in 2014 had become increasingly financially unsustainable.

A planned restructure from a service orientated not-for-profit charity run almost entirely on community donations to a pre-funded program model with timeframes and monitored outcomes could not be successfully implemented by a board of volunteers, all of whom were small business owners in the Penrith community.

Despite the generosity of the Penrith community, the growing number of charity organisations in the area had broadened the giving pool, meaning less available funds for each worthy cause.

The proposed revised business plan was seriously considered by the board and discussions held with Penrith Council.

However, a board spokesperson said it relied on community funding and grant success as well as charging for counselling services.

“Whilst considerable effort would be required to continually fundraise to meet the financial obligations set forth in the proposals, a fee for service model is not in line with the stated mission of the Queen of Hearts Community Foundation.

“Unfortunately, given the parameters of the current economic climate, the inability to rely solely on fundraising and the generous donations from our community and the chance of being successful with any grant applications, the board did not feel that the proposed plan would ensure long-term success of the foundation.’’

The proposal was discussed at length at a November 15 meeting, which was adjourned until this past Tuesday [November 27] to allow further time for the proposal to be worked through.

“Given the experience of the board and the member in attendance, we did not believe it would be a viable long-term solution given the struggle it has been the past twelve months to fundraise funds.

“Should Queen of Hearts stay trading, we believe it would likely be in the same, if not worse, position than it is now in another twelve months’ time.

“On that basis, and with heavy hearts, the board resolved to place the Queen of Hearts Foundation into the hands of a liquidator to wind up.’’

Surplus funds will be donated to the national Bravehearts Foundation and unfulfilled grants will be returned to their respective government agencies.

The Queen of Hearts Foundation board encouraged the Penrith community to continue to support similar organisations such as the Bravehearts Foundation, The Haven Nepean Women’s Shelter and Penrith Women’s Health Centre.


Penrith: Queen of Hearts Foundation to close

Penrith-based child sexual abuse and domestic violence support service Queen of Hearts Foundation will close.

The four-member board has distributed a proposal to its members to fold the organisation at its next meeting and anticipates majority support.

The decision was a difficult one for the board and took some time to reach. However, the Queen of Hearts Foundation has become increasingly financially unsustainable.

A planned restructure from a service orientated not-for-profit charity run almost entirely on community donations to a pre-funded program model with timeframes and monitored outcomes could not be successfully implemented by a board of volunteers, all of whom are small business owners in the Penrith community.

Despite the generosity of the Penrith community, the growing number of charity organisations in the area has broadened the giving pool, meaning less available funds for each worthy cause.

The board has been unable to fill the part-time volunteer CEO position vacated when Queen of Hearts Foundation founder Michelle Ellery resigned from the role in March. The major fundraiser, a charity ball in July, also failed to raise sufficient funds.

Surplus funds will be donated to the national Bravehearts Foundation and unfulfilled grants will be returned to their respective government agencies.

Queen of Hearts Foundation was established in 2014 by current Penrith Citizen of the Year Ms Ellery and operates from the old Penrith Council chambers building in Henry St.

A board spokesperson thanked Ms Ellery for her tireless efforts and passion in raising awareness for the needs of survivors of child sexual abuse and domestic violence: “Everyone involved in the Queen of Hearts Foundation is proud to have been part of such a high profile organisation and is disappointed to have to make this decision.

“However, we are realistic and know that a charity that struggles to keep its doors open week to week cannot provide the ongoing support and services our customers need.’’

The Queen of Hearts Foundation board encouraged the Penrith community to continue to support similar organisations such as the Bravehearts Foundation, The Haven Nepean Women’s Shelter and Penrith Women’s Health Centre.

  • Queen of Hearts Foundation is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media

Debut author makes big picture issues real

Cover detail

By Ellen Hill for Sue Liu

Humanitarian efforts in far flung locations, terrible natural disasters and appalling acts of terrorism become believably real through Sydney author Sue Liu’s debut work Accidental Aid Worker.

The independently published book is a travel memoir of a courageous woman on a quest to find love and places to belong.

Readers will feel an immediate emotional commitment to Liu as they travel along this literary journey through an overwhelming series of experiences encompassing the entire gamut of human sensations – love and loss, encouragement and disillusionment, achievement and adversity.

More than 150 copies have already been sold and distributed internationally.

The book was launched on November 1 at a soiree attended by Dr Rabbi Dovid Slavin, who runs Bondi’s Our Big Kitchen and Inside Out author Greg Fisher, whose connection with Liu feature in the book.

Readers will learn how Liu stumbled into voluntary aid work in the wake of the 2004 tsunami during the civil war conflict in Sri Lanka. She teamed up with a tour guide, a Catholic priest and a community of refugees, beginning a 10-year obsession with helping people in need. Through tragic events, Liu meets the larger than life Geraldine Cox and spreads her generosity to help orphaned children in Cambodia.

Accidential Aid Worker author Sue Liu

Accidential Aid Worker author Sue Liu

Accidental Aid Worker is a moving and real-life account of one woman’s drive to survive and support others while masking battles of her own.  Along the way, Liu loses her grip on life and embarks on a harrowing journey through mid-life crisis, disconnection and chronic depression. She is forced to face inescapable truths about herself in order to navigate her way to the woman she really wants to be.

Liu shares her most vulnerable moments with warmth and bare honesty, alongside epic travel adventures and quirky tales involving; priests, nuns, a rabbi, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, a tuktuk accident, refugees, orphaned children, surgeries, fishing for marlin and at times, spontaneous singing and dancing with children.

Liu’s decade of volunteer community work began in 2004 when she galvanised her community of Sydney’s inner west, with more than 100 supporters following her journey back and forth trying to deliver the aid collected to refugees to the devastated people in the town of Trincomalee in the north east of Sri Lanka.

“Back in 2005, I was overwhelmed by the groundswell of support I received from friends and people in my own community in particular who just wanted to contribute in a tangible way to my collection and help people in crisis. It became an addiction to being a humanitarian, I couldn’t stop,’’ she says.

Accidental Aid Worker is also Liu’s very open struggle with grief, loss and isolation. She recounts multiple losses in her family, struggles with being a single, self employed woman and suffering burn-out, depression and the mid-life zone of her 40s.

However, Accidental Aid Worker is also about Liu’s commitment to survive, give hope to others facing adversity and reconnect with her life and purpose, which includes devoting herself to community.

“I believe life is a series of next steps and pieces of a puzzle and I certainly have had a full, interesting and quirky life. I couldn’t keep these stories to myself anymore and part of my healing was writing and producing this book. I think my struggles will really resonate with a lot of people. There are plenty places to laugh with and at me, and plenty of times to commiserate.

“I recommend reading with tissues and a glass of wine.’’

This heartwarming and thought-provoking story will make you laugh, bring you to tears, inspire a thirst for travel, a yearning to give back and pause for thought about what really makes us all tick.

The limited edition memento paperback of Accidental Aid Worker features a special memento double cover is available for $35.00 plus postage along with an ebook at accidentalaidworker.com.au.

As well as being a great stocking filler, purchasing the book will help communities with $5 per book sold before Christmas donated to a charity supporting Sydney’s homeless and disadvantaged. The purchaser can choose between OBK, The Wayside Chapel, Lou’s Place and Gethsemane Community.

Go to accidentalaidworker.com.au for more information about this self-published book, author Sue Liu to access photo galleries, news clippings and the shop.

Books are also on sale at Hill of Content at Balmain and Gleebooks at Glebe, Dulwich Hill and Blackheath in the Blue Mountains as well as online through Ibooks, Amazon, Goodreads and Smashwords.

  • Sue Liu is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity

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