Photo: GIVING BACK: Former Samaritans Student Accommodation participant Tegan Butts, 17, and her mentor, Shelly O’Brien, speak at last year’s Bean Counters Ball.
Article: www.theherald.com.au | 26 Oct 2016
The six years of the black-tie Bean Counters Ball have raised more than $100,000. The funds have helped establish the Bean Counters Pathway, Associate Degree of Accounting Scholarships through the Hunter TAFE Foundation, and support the Samaritans Student Accommodation and mentor programs.
The ball is a joint initiative between the local members of Certified Practicing Accountants Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.
Year upon year, the generosity of local businesses who sponsor and donate to this event enable us to continue supporting and encouraging young people in our region.
By working with Samaritans and Hunter TAFE Foundation we are able to directly support young people to achieve their career aspirations, no matter their hardship. It could be the risk of homelessness or the daily struggle of balancing family and work life with higher education.
Three hundred guests from the Hunter accounting and business community are expected to attend Friday night’s ball at the Newcastle Exhibition and Convention Centre. The event celebrates more than the profession of accounting, it promotes the value of our craft to the community and encourages others to pursue it as a profession.
The Samaritans and Hunter TAFE add great value to our region in terms of education, skills training and community engagement. We are proud to support people through educational pathways with these organisations. Our region should be very proud of its ability to be smart and inventive, but we should be more attentive to the outcomes that are created by like-minded people who work together to make great things happen in the community.
At last year’s Bean Counters Ball, Tegan Butts, 17, gave a moving speech about her experience living in a violent household. She suffered abuse from an alcoholic father, and bouts of homelessness, but financial constraints always prevented her permanent departure from the traumatic situation. In late 2013, with the support of her boyfriend and his family, she made the courageous decision to leave, and lived with family members and friends before finding a home at Samaritans Student Accommodation.
It’s hard to think of a better example of the possible positive outcomes of the Samaritans’ mentor programs and the advantages of the student accommodation than Tegan’s amazing life. Her ticket to happiness came through helping others and sharing her story. Her efforts for the St John Ambulance and the Samaritans – among other organisations – were recognised when The Centre for Volunteering named her the overall winner of the 2015 Hunter Volunteer of the Year.
Tegan was in the third week of her HSC when she offered to help the organisers of this year’s Bean Counters Ball.
Tegan completed a traineeship through John Hunter Hospital this year and gained her Certificate III in Health Services Assistance. She has applied to the University of Newcastle and the University of New England with a view to undertaking a degree in nursing. She would like to specialise in emergency medicine or rural medicine, helping victims of domestic violence.
Tegan has now moved out of the Samaritans Student Accommodation but wanted to give back to the organisation. “A young, homeless boy needed my room, so I decided to move out and am so thankful for what the program helped me to achieve,” she said.
Cassandra Sharp is chair of the Bean Counters Ball committee