At Rainbow Jane, we are all about telling good news stories of people helping other people (with a soft spot for stories about inspirational women), so today it was my great privilege to be invited to a luncheon hosted by the Sydney Community Foundation and Sydney Women’s Fund to honour Wendy McCarthy AO.

The event was at the MCA on a cracker of a sunshiny day, energy high and opera house in the background shining as always.  There were a few hundred attendees and some well-known philanthropists in the room.  I always feel a bit overwhelmed at these events, like I’ve been invited by mistake (good old imposter syndrome), but hearing Jennifer Byrne, Quentin Bryce and Jane Jose speak as well as Wendy herself, I was reminded of the importance of giving back, and the impact of the ‘kindness of strangers’, no matter who you are or where you come from.

It was in fact a very generous Deanne Weir (an amazing philanthropist and a former colleague) who invited me – she knows I’m trying to get my charity foundation off the ground and thought this would be a good function for me to be a part of with a lot of people present I could learn from.  It was.  On my table alone were a group of incredible women with varied backgrounds including Rachel Ward, actor and a keen supporter of environment issues, Layne Beachley, who has created an amazing foundation for girls in her post-surfing career, Helen Liondis who runs AMP’s Corporate Fund, and Kristi Mansfield, former CEO of Sydney Community Fund to name a few.

But back to Wendy.  I’ve never met Wendy personally but the affection in the room for her was palpable.  Turns out her BFF is Quentin Bryce, who gave a delightful and often funny speech about Wendy and the impact that their friendship has had on her personally but also importantly, the contribution she has made to our great country.  Wendy’s career has been vast but the principals of her passions had one common theme – ‘that the way out of any ghetto is education’.

We then heard from a young lady named Corinne who runs a program for WhiteLion in the Western suburbs.  Corinne works with disadvantaged youth on the grounds, and runs programs that help them get back into a form of education that is right for them and will propel them forward to a better life.  The Sydney Community Fund has been supporting this pilot program for a year now and it has been a big success.

Both Wendy and Corinne inspired me today.  With Wendy, I could really see how lucky I am to be in an era where there are so many female role models who have had successful careers without conforming to masculine norms, and have become parents along the way, and have given back, and paved the way for the rest of us to do the same.   With Corinne, I was greatful that there are young leaders out there doing such important work on the frontline, ensuring education is a path that will give people more freedom.

I established Rainbow Jane because I feel like the world is a pretty negative place right now if we believe everything the media tells us, but there really are so many stories to be told of people doing great things in our community to lend a helping hand to others.  People who have courage and kindness as their core values regardless of the income they earn, or the suburb that they live in, and simply want to give back.  At Rainbow Jane, we hope to create a platform for people to tell those stories, but in the meantime, a personal thanks to Wendy and Corinne for role modelling what it means to live the values of courage and generosity.  Rainbow Jane applauds you both.