When Cilla Baker set up her business, E3 Training, she knew that right from the start, she wanted to give something back to the community.  Cilla and husband Jon are very passionate about mental health and Gumboot Friday, which is part of the I AM HOPE Initiative, so this became their focus.  

After several setbacks due to Covid, last month, they raised $48,000 which will go towards providing counselling for kiwi kids.   

Work began on the project back in August 2021. Several events were planned for November that year, pamphlets were printed, and thousands of emails sent. Then came the Traffic Light system, and November came and went.

Undeterred, they adjusted the plan again early this year, and rallied support for a super-charged Quiz Night. “Hoops was a great support and gave us good awareness. We also ran some a few smaller pre-fundraisers, on-air auctions, raffles and set up a a Givealittle page.”

“We originally hoped to raise $10,000, but when the response started coming in, we raised that the $30,000, then $40,000, and we still blew it out of the water,” Cilla says.

The sell-out Quiz Night, held in the Tinwald Hall, was capped at 56 teams, and everyone rallied to support, including Cilla’s Mum as Quiz Master. 

Was it stressful? “Well, I did admit to Jon I might have over committed this time,” she grins, “But in the end it’s worth it. On top of schooling there’s enormous pressure on kids to look and dress in a certain way, to be successful. I struggled with my own mental health as a kid so I’m happy to pay it forward. That money raised will provide around 400 counselling sessions for kiwi kids who need it.”

“Mental health should be something we can all talk about. Kids need to be able to talk to their mates if they’re struggling. We all do”

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.