Sean Breen is Sacred Heart Mission’s “chocolate drive guy”. For the last ten years, Sean has raised funds to purchase chocolates for every Christmas and Easter meal at our Dining Hall.
Sean first connected to Sacred Heart Mission as a Corporate Volunteer with NAB and kept using his volunteering leave from work to return to the Dining Hall. While working in Elsternwick, Sean and his colleagues discovered there was a man regularly sleeping rough in their work car park. Emergency services would move him on, but he’d always return, and this prompted mixed reactions from staff.
Sean reached out to Sacred Heart Mission for someone to speak to his team about homelessness and the organisation’s work. He then organised for his team to volunteer in the Dining Hall.
“People are judgemental about homelessness when they look from the outside,” he says. “The experience was eye opening for my staff – they grew to understand that homelessness is not a choice.” That experience left Sean wanting to do more for the Mission, something simple that would have a big impact on Sacred Heart Mission’s clients.
He started brainstorming and came up with the idea of Easter eggs for the Meals Program. It started with a dozen boxes of Easter eggs he organised as donations from his immediate team and brought into the Dining Hall.
From there, Sean leveraged his network – people brought chocolates in or made donations to buy them. “A $10 box of Cadbury Favourites gives 30 or 40 people something special. A small amount makes such a big difference.”
Sean’s annual chocolate drive has only gotten bigger. In 2021, he donated 10,000 chocolates, as well has hams, turkeys and Christmas crackers. One year, there were leftover chocolates and Head Chef Kirsty melted them down to make a chocolate sauce to have with ice cream – nothing goes to waste!
Sean now runs his own business, Conquer Finance, and has an online donation page set up to support the chocolate drive effort each year.
Everyone who contributes knows exactly where their money is going. “This is such a simple thing that helps people to feel good about making a difference – and it’s not a big ask.”
Sean is impressed by Sacred Heart Mission and the consistency and simplicity of services provided, especially the Meals Program operating 365 days a year.
“The goodness of others is just incredible – it is something many people take for granted,” he says. Sean is astounded by how big the chocolate drive has become.
This year, he received a plaque from CEO Cathy Humphrey to thank him for his incredible contributions over the last decade. “I don’t do this for the recognition – but it’s very humbling.”
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