Sh*tbox Rally – Guest Blogger, CWA of NSW member – Lyn B

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Deb and Lyn A.K.A Thelma and Louise

It all started with a phone call in 2012 from my wonderful friend Deb Browning.. a.k.a “Thelma”!  Would I like to join her and drive from Melbourne to Cairns, via Broken Hill in a “Sh*tbox” car over a 7 day period?  Why not, I exclaimed – sounds like fun!

I know the name “Sh*tbox Rally” doesn’t sit well with everyone – but it’s a take on good old Aussie slang for a cheap car, a paddock basher.  Rules of the rally are that you have to purchase a car for under $1000.00 (incl. rego) and drive it from A to B in a week.  You need to raise a minimum of $4000.00 for the Cancer Council to start the rally and at the end; all cars are auctioned off for the cause.  Started by James Freeman after the loss of both his parents to cancer, the “Sh*tbox Rally” has grown over the past five years from the initial 20 or so cars of mates and friends to the nearly 200 cars anticipated to start in 2014!  The rally has raised nearly 3 million dollars so far, with a hope for another $1.4 million this year.  It’s not a race, you “win” the event by raising the most money, having the best fancy dress theme or by having the car least expected to make it (but does!).   However, in reality, everyone wins as participants have a great time and money is found for valuable Cancer research.rally 2

The camaraderie and fellowship on the rally is amazing – we ALL have a story about how Cancer has affected our lives.  It’s scenic, upbeat and crazy with dress up nights and kooky characters, and a team of bush mechanics that can make literally any car finish the distance. Truly a celebration of life!

For 2012 we purchased an old Subaru L from an alpaca farm in Morisset for $1000.00, hosed it out, had it tuned and started our wonderful journey raising money for Cancer. We named our team “Thelma & Louise” and began our fundraising for our first rally.  Cars have to be decorated, so we thought handprints on the car in honour of those loved and lost, and those of survivors would be a fitting tribute.   With mixed feelings we acknowledged that the car looked fabulous, yet it was a sign the Cancer shows no discrimination – it takes young and young at heart.

Then with 9 weeks to go, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and needed a double mastectomy.  Wow..  I didn’t see that coming!  My oncologist was great (even if he thought I was crazy to want to drive over 7000 klms – 7 weeks after surgery –  in a 1990 Subaru) and had me up and running in no time. Although I don’t recommend this as a fundraising pitch, my diagnosis seemed to raise awareness and make our cause all the more personal. Our donations skyrocketed and we came 2nd with nearly $19K and had the trip of a lifetime along the way!

rally 3Country towns host the rally en route and I am pleased to brag that Tibooburra CWA still hold the title of best food and service for the rally over the past two years!  Around 9 ladies catered for nearly 400 people, dinner and breakfast in the main street, plus takeaway lunch packs and did an awesome job – well done Kath and the girls!

So we lined up again in the 2013 event with another Subaru L – this one from Cooma (so she is nicknamed “Snowy”) and last year drove from Sydney to the start line in Adelaide then to Fremantle W.A. via Uluru!  Another fantastic journey across the Australian Desert with some 360 other crazy folk in all sorts of “Sh*tboxes”.   We could not part with “Snowy” so we bought her at the auction and left her at a friend’s farm in W.A.  ready for 2014 Rally starting from Perth.

On 31 May, 2014 we will be departing the Western Australian capital and travel to Darwin, via the Kimberly Ranges and Gibb River Road.  “Thelma & Louise” and  “Snowy the Subaru” will not only do the rally, but this time we are bring our trusty little Subaru home with us – so by the time we return home to Sydney, Deb and I would have covered the entire country in a “Sh*tbox” and raised nearly $30K for Cancer.  What a fun way to fundraise!

I am sharing my story with you all as CWA of NSW has decided to sponsor “Thelma & Louise” in the “Sh*tbox Rally” for 2014.  We cannot thank you all enough for the generous offer of $2500.00 for our team and the Cancer Council of NSW.  Deb and I are humbled by this support and know that this money will be going towards valuable research to try and stop Cancer in our members and our society.  Our team “Thelma & Louise” has a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thelma-Louise-in-the-Sh*tbox-Rally/258341294214178 where you will be able to keep up with our progress and watch our adventure unfold.  The “Sh*tbox Rally” also has a webpage http://www.Sh*tboxrally.com.au/you-re-doing-what in case you are thinking of maybe doing this event in 2015?  Why not!rally 4

Will keep you posted!

Lyn B

a.k.a.  “Louise”

Big Bikkies

Sunrise

Well, what a great week we’ve had, so far, boasting about our achievements!!

Here in Sydney we’ve done radio interviews, a television appearance on Sunrise (you can click the picture above to see the footage) and some print as well, all great experiences for those of us involved, albeit a little nerve-racking at the time! We’ve been promoting our fundraising efforts which support children in their educational endeavours through various Branch, Group and State grants (over $177,000.00).

We raise almost $1 million a year for:

  • Medical research projects that do not receive any government assistance, like Lupus, Rett Syndrome, Haemophilia, Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cell Research, to name a few.
  • Support of women, families and communities, following tragedy/adversity through our own emergency fund, as well as our tax deductible Disaster Relief Fund which accepts donations from members of the public
  •  Medical retrieval services
  • Cancer research
  • Programmes for homeless youth
  • Medecins Sans Frontieres

Practical assistance like beautifully knitted items distributed to various hospitals, shelters and op shops. Assistance, both cash and ‘in kind’, is also given generously to women in the South Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea to help improve their skills, standard of living and the health of their families.

Read what some of our recipients have to say here.

Our fundraising is achieved by various means, including the making and selling of certain creations normally topped with jam and cream, but mostly through selfless hard work and commitment.

I am justly proud of the countless volunteer hours that our 10,000 + members (including me!) contribute, allowing us to provide help when and where it is needed.

thank you¡

CWA In the City, by Guest Blogger Debra Pinkerton

Sydney City Branch members enjoyed modelling authentic kaftans at a Moroccan-themed fundraising luncheon.

Sydney City Branch members enjoyed modelling authentic kaftans at a Moroccan-themed fundraising luncheon.

As we head into the inaugural CWA Awareness Week, our themes of DIVERSITY, CHARITY and CHANGE exemplify the driving force and enthusiasm of CWA of NSW.  There are many activities undertaken by the Association that often ‘go under the radar’ and this week is a time to promote the great work accomplished across this State.

As a professional urban woman living in Sydney I am proud to say I am a ‘city slicker’ member of the Country Women’s Association of New South Wales.

It may come as a surprise to many that 20% of the CWA membership live in the city.

Currently I am President of the Sydney City Evening Branch and the majority of our members are professional women aged in their 30’s or 40’s. Some have rural family heritage as daughters or granddaughters off the land while others were born and bred in the city and have no direct ties to rural NSW.

This DIVERSITY in our backgrounds is enriching as we share our different skills and experience.

Despite our city lifestyle, we are united by a desire to effect positive change within our local and state-wide community. The successes we achieve in driving this change are at the very centre of our pride in CWA.

While the tea and scones sold at the annual Royal Easter Show are a public emblem of CWA, the real business of our organisation is raising and distributing essential funds for medical research, supporting NSW families through scholarships, participating in humanitarian projects in Australia and internationally and lobbying government at all levels on issues as diverse as the environment, health, education and transport.

Our branch is part of Phillip Group which comprises 9 Sydney metropolitan branches plus Norfolk Island. The main focus for our fundraising is education. This year alone Phillip Group has distributed $26,000 in educational grants to applicants across NSW and another $13,500 through the Sylvia Osborne Scholarship for fashion and textile students.

This may be regarded as an act of CHARITY. However, these scholarships are a catalyst for progress.  With improved literacy and numeracy skills young people are empowered to shape their own destinies through informed decision making.

Sydney City Branch members share a conviction that the CWA of NSW is an effective and mobilised women’s organisation which advocates for urban and rural communities. We believe we can enable positive CHANGE.

I would encourage anyone who really wants to get involved in a grass-roots organisation that is making a positive impact for women and communities in Australia and overseas to join a CWA branch in their local area.