A group of young business leaders who started meeting over lunch seven years ago are using their growing event to support vulnerable older Australians.
The networking activity started by Ken Robson, Johanna Fikkers and Michael Lawler became known as Red Lunch.
They met several times a year as an opportunity to build professional networks and develop referral relationships.
Mr Robson now works at Channel Nine which has also been involved in supporting the last two lunches.
During 2018 the gatherings evolved into Corps that Care luncheons with $10 from each ticket being donated to a local charity.
Kneading Ruby hosted the last two lunches and matched the donation dollar-for-dollar.
“We were the younger generation of the business community when we started Red Lunch,” Mr Robson said.
“It was a group of local business people at the time who wanted to do something different to the normal networking events.
“It was a chance to get some like-minded people together with a common goal”.
Toby Dawson has also been involved from the start.
Mr Dawson is now the manager of IRT Foundation which was the recipient of proceeds raised at the last lunch in December. A donation from the previous lunch was made to CareSouth.
Mr Dawson said having a group of young business leaders supporting IRT Foundation was a really nice touch.
“We are really excited because vulnerable older Australians are often overlooked so it is really good to see the young business leaders of the Illawarra coming together to support people who are often ignored,” he said.
“The money that was raised at the last lunch was quite significant. When we look specifically at homeless older people it costs about $50 just to get their personal and domestic cleaning products. So with the funds raised we were able to help more than 10 people get set up in a brand new home”.
“With IRT Foundation we fight homelessness, loneliness and joblessness for vulnerable older Australians. The money we raised from the last lunch we directed towards our homelessness program to help people to get back on their feet so they can contribute to society.
“As a result of the support of Kneading Ruby and the Red Lunch group we were able to help 10 people who we otherwise would not have been able to support.”
Mr Dawson said he hoped the leadership being shown by the young business leaders would encourage more people to follow their lead in doing more to help vulnerable older Australians.
Kneading Ruby’s Kevin Duarte said the restaurant decided to get involved because it saw it as a way to give back to the community that has so strongly supported it over the last three years.
“This group is very organised and very focused. We do a set menu for them. It is also a great chance for us to network as well”.