Camp Quality, Australia's most trusted children's charity, has embarked on its national fundraising campaign, Dine at Mine, combining Australia's love of cooking with a campaign that has a big impact on kids living with cancer. The concept is simple, fun and exciting – share a meal with your favourite people and ask them to contribute what they would have spent on a meal out to Camp Quality. Easy, right?
With a meal out at a restaurant costing Australians on average $30 per meal, this donation can go a long way for Camp Quality, who utilise the money raised to run programs that support kids and their families at every stage of the cancer journey. Camp Quality believes laughter is the best medicine and runs programs focussed on the power of positive psychology to build optimism and resilience.
What sets Dine at Mine apart is the simplicity of the concept - hosts have the freedom to make it what they want, be that dinner at home, a simple Sunday brunch, a themed fiesta in the office or a BBQ while watching the football. The only specification is that the Dine at Mine is hosted between August and September.
Simon Rountree, CEO of Camp Quality, believes a meal is a powerful way to connect for a cause. "Every day Australians share a meal with family and friends," Rountree said. 'This is part of the daily routine yet can be so meaningful, as a time to catch up and spend time together. Dine at Mine aims to tap into this moment by simply asking people to cook a meal for their loved ones and donate money to a great cause."
"As a not-for-profit charity, we rely on the generosity of everyday Australians to support families who are currently facing the toughest time of their lives," Rountree said. 'We ask Australians to dig deep, knowing families affected by cancer often can't even share a meal together."
The story of the Robinsons
Enjoying the time together over a shared meal benefits families, including the Robinsons, who have been on a cancer journey for the past five-and-a-half years. Parents Wendy and Ken Robinson were told their beautiful and bubbly daughter Victoria had been diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was just three years old. Now eight, Victoria has spent the large part of her childhood battling cancer.
Wendy Robinson says, "Our children always return home from a Camp Quality program with confidence in who they are and what they have overcome. The invaluable relationships they have with all the staff and volunteers is a support network for us all. Victoria is excited to host and cook for her friends at her very own Dine at Mine this year to give back to Camp Quality for bringing laughter back into her family."
Over the past three years 891 people have hosted Dine at Mine events across Australia and raised over $750,000 for Camp Quality. The goal in 2016 is to surpass the million dollar mark.
By hosting a Dine at Mine, Australians help Camp Quality provide essential services at hospital, at home, in schools and out in the community to create the best quality of life for kids and their families living with cancer.
To find out more or register to be part of Dine at Mine, visit www.dineatmine.org.au
Question: What is the Dine at Mine campaign?
Wendy Robinson: Dine at Mine is all about combining your love of cooking or entertaining with a cause that has a meaningful impact on kids living with cancer. The idea is nice and simple which we find quite fun and exciting in our house – share a meal with your favourite people and ask them to contribute what they would have spent on a meal out to Camp Quality.
What sets Dine at Mine apart for our family is that as hosts, we have the freedom to make it what we want. People can choose to have it at any time of the day, with any type of cuisine and with whoever they wish. The only specification is that the Dine at Mine is hosted between August and September.
Question: How will you be participating in Dine at Mine?
Wendy Robinson: Victoria held her own Dine at Mine event last year for her friends with pizzas, movies, dancing and games, This year Victoria hosted a lunch for nineteen girls from school. It was a sausage sizzle with ice-blocks. They played soccer and musical statues in between eating.
Charlotte, Victoria's older sister hosted a breakfast for some of her school friends. Alexandra, Victoria's younger sister is planning a high tea Dine at Mine.
Victoria and her siblings really do just want to give back to Camp Quality because they recognise how much they have helped them.
Question: Why is it important that Australians participating in Dine at Mine?
Wendy Robinson: We know that we are just one of many families going through this difficult journey so we want as many people as possible to come together to support families who need it during this tough time.
Question: Can you share your story, with us?
Wendy Robinson: Our beautiful bubbly girl was walking with a slight limp and, despite being told by a GP that we were "over-worrying," a family friend suggested they follow it up further. So I took our three-year-old daughter Victoria, to hospital to undergo some tests.
My Husband Ken was away in Melbourne and received the devastating news from a doctor by phone that evening that Victoria had a brain tumour. "Your daughter's got a tumour. We reckon at most she's got four days to live. We need to operate. Do I have your permission?"
Our lives were turned upside down as we were now facing major brain surgery for our daughter, with an unknown outcome. A week later, Victoria underwent 8.5 hours of brain surgery. Of the period afterwards, our family was falling apart bit by bit as our kids were not getting the attention that they needed. Our business was going downhill."
To help ease our high levels of stress, a counsellor at the hospital suggested the family go on a camp which is when we were introduced to Camp Quality.
Question: How did Camp Quality support you and your family through this difficult time?
Wendy Robinson: Our children always return home from a Camp Quality program with greater confidence in who they are and what they have overcome. The invaluable relationships they have with all the staff and volunteers is a support network for us all. Victoria is excited to host and cook for her friends at her very own Dine at Mine this year to give back to Camp Quality for bringing laughter back into her family.
We describe the journey as a truck accident that never ends. Camp Quality can't take away the pain, it cannot heal your child, but it gives you the opportunity to be a family for one weekend while you go through the most horrendous experience.
Interview by Brooke Hunter