The Sharks crossed for 22 tries in their final six games of the season, Ronaldo Mulitalo scoring six of those four-pointers, which has significantly boosted the donation pledged by local businessman Ivan Lampret from Gibson Partners Real Estate at Cronulla to Stepping Stone House, the community organisation helping to better the lives of homeless youth.
As a part of Mulitalo’s fundraising drive for Stepping Stone House, a charity for which he has a close affiliation, Lampret offered an initial $1,000 contribution, pledging a further $100 for every try scored for the remainder of the Sharks 2020 season.
So while the Sharks bowed out during the first week of finals after a loss to the Raiders, as a result of Lampret’s generosity Stepping Stone House were still winners, with a total of $3,200 heading to the organisation which receives no government funding and relies on community donations for support.
Over those last five rounds and including the finals match in Canberra, the Sharks continued the hot attacking form which had them rated amongst the leading try-scoring teams in the NRL.
They managed five tries in a 28-12 win over the Cowboys in round 16, just two the following week in a loss to Newcastle, then four more in a 22-14 victory over the Warriors, with Mulitalo notching two tries in a win that locked in a finals berth.
Despite losing their last two regular season games, then the Canberra elimination final that followed, the Sharks still crossed for 11 tries in those three matches. For a total of 22 from the time Lampret’s donation was pledged.
A Stepping Stone House ambassador, Mulitalo was thankful of Lampret’s contribution to the cause and happy he was able to personally add to the donation total.
“Stepping Stone is a wonderful organisation doing great work and I’m very appreciative of Ivan’s support,” Mulitalo said. “And to get across the line myself a few times and to be able to add a little bit extra to his donation made it even better.”
While Lampret, who was prompted to make the contribution to Stepping Stone House after listening to Mulitalo’s emotional plea for assistance, was more than willing to offer his support.
“I have four kids of my own and I couldn’t imagine them going without and not having nutritious meals to eat and a roof to sleep under,” Lampret said. “Giving just a little often goes a very long way, and even through these challenging COVID times, when you put things into perspective, there’s always those in our local community that are less fortunate and appreciate a helping hand.”
Earlier this year, having seen the struggles faced by homeless youth and recounting his own experiences growing up, Mulitalo became an ambassador for Stepping Stone House, launching an appeal, along with a campaign labelled ‘Give 5, Get 5’.
As a part of the initiative Mulitalo donated $5 every day for 25 days, while nominating his Sharks teammates as well as players from other NRL clubs to do the same.
Media supported his efforts and helped to spread the word, with the funds raised going a long way towards improving the lives of homeless youth.
An award-winning charity, Stepping Stone House receives no government funding, offering displaced youth a safe home with educational and employment opportunities.
It is estimated some 43,000 children and youth are currently homeless, in addition to as many as 47,000 who are in care, with youth homelessness an issue they have identified to be in need of urgent attention.
One in three experiencing homelessness in Australia is under 25 and 70 per cent of those who leave home do so because of domestic violence. The additional stress of isolation and COVID-19 has added to the numbers and issues being faced.
Stepping Stone House supports young people experiencing homelessness well beyond the age at which normal funding cuts off, actively caring for people aged 14 to 24 years old—and the care is life changing – with 33 percent of Stepping Stone House graduates completing tertiary education, compared with just two percent of those in state foster care.
Further to the work they do, 100 per cent of Stepping Stone graduates have somewhere permanent to call home at the age of 19 and all are employed by the time they leave the program.
To make a donation or to find out more about Stepping Stone House, the work they do and services they provide, CLICK HERE to see their website.