Sarah Gun says she is just an ordinary mum, but for her kids Alice and Eddie – and the many homeless mums in South Australia she has helped over the past five years – she is quite extraordinary.
Through her Adelaide-based business GOGO Events, Sarah is changing the lives of local homeless and disadvantaged women by employing them to help prepare and stage her company’s events.
Many of them come from the Hutt St Centre, The Big Issue and Common Ground, and after training with GOGO they go on to find meaningful work. Others find a sense of empowerment that comes from building their capacity and capability which leads to a more fulfilling life.
For Sarah, a Loreto College old scholar, her reward is being able to live out the social justice values instilled in her at school which she has incorporated in her business.
“I think that the homeless people I work with just happen to be homeless – their life journey has been different to mine but everyone deserves a break and an opportunity,” she said.
“For whatever reason, I have created an opportunity that is changing people’s lives and I feel compelled to continue that.
“That is my drive”.
When Sarah made the decision five years ago to reinvent her events company from a general business to a social enterprise she had little idea what an impact it would have. Clients embraced the idea of their corporate event helping others on the fringe of society and she received many accolades from the wider community along the way.
Earlier this year she was named as one of 10 national winners of a Westpac Bicentennial Social Change Fellowship, valued up to $50,000.
Sarah, 50, will use the fellowship to travel overseas later this month to investigate how London, Bristol and Dublin have embraced social enterprise as a model to solve complex social issues. She hopes her findings will help her to further advance the social enterprise network in Adelaide.
Extremely proud of their mum’s success are Alice, 13 and Eddie, 12, who have seen firsthand how GOGO is helping others.
“I love going to help Mum at work because I hear so many stories from all of these people that she has given hope to through her work. Overall, I couldn’t ask for anyone better as my mum,” said Alice. She added that her mum “likes to have a giggle with us”, with her common practice of singing the wrong lyrics to songs in the car always bringing a smile to their faces.
Eddie is also in awe of his mum.
“I think what my mum does is amazing. She helps lots of the homeless and disadvantaged people and she makes them think their lives are worth living, and makes them have fun,” he said.
Sarah, who lost her own mum when she was 23, said she had no successful formula for juggling being a mum and running a demanding business – but having a lot of support from husband Geoffrey and the children was key.
“It’s not easy and in order for me to grow we’ve had to let some things go. There’s no ironing done and I do a lot of heating (food) – but not a lot of cooking,” she laughed.Jump to next article