There are givers and takers in this world and Sonia Deakin, wife, mother of three and super communicator, whose daily aim in life is to “strive to be kind and be as considerate as possible”, is a definite giver.
All of which makes her a natural fit for RizeUp, a charity dedicated to helping families moving on from domestic violence.
Part of RizeUp from the when good friend Nicolle Edwards started it, a proud Sonia, who manages the PR and marketing for RizeUp, describes the charity as nothing short of “amazing”.
“It is truly a ground-breaking service that really is changing lives, from helping to create a new home for victims fleeing a violent household to supporting children in their healing process and raising funds for families left with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” she said.
RizeUp is referred homes earmarked for victim families through refugee and domestic violence services.
“Then, through the power of social media, the needs are placed on Facebook and within 24 to 48 hours, our team have enough goods to furnish a home and provide the little extra special touches that make a house a home,” said Sonia.
“In addition to the furniture, we provide packs to cater for all their needs – kitchen, laundry, pantry, bathroom as well as a welcome such as toys for the children and a pamper pack for the Mum.”
For obvious reasons, Sonia and all who work with RizeUp, never get to meet the families they help. But that’s not a problem.
“When I helped in fitting out a home and saw the transformation and what the family can walk into after having nothing, it gave me goosebumps,” said Sonia.
“I could see that someone’s life could be turned around and from that moment I was hooked.
“It literally changes the lives of people. These families are leaving violent relationships to get away from the hideous abuse but the reality is they have to leave everything behind and so the journey is hard.
“The groundbreaking and innovative service RizeUp provides means that it’s ok that you have nothing because you can start again and the community is here to help you do that.
“The love and support that these families feel when they turn the key in their new home and walk into a fully furnished, fully decorated and fully equipped home is overwhelming.
“They know someone cares and it makes a future without violence possible. “
As well as the practical support they also feel a wonderful sense of worth by seeing what a community and strangers can create for them.”
In addition to her crucial role with RizeUp, Sonia uses her marketing and PR skills attained over a 25 year career which began at Movie World, looking after the sponsorships and events for the Australian International Movie Convention which is held each year on the Gold Coast.
Sonia’s work is on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney requiring “a bit of travelling” but she loves getting back to Iluka, a small coastal town near Yamba, about an hour South of Byron Bay where she lives with her husband Ross and their three children, Molly,14, Nick,12, and Amber, 5.
She describes her family’s move to Iluka from the Gold Coast as “the biggest change in her life so far “second only to marrying Ross and having children”.
“We had only planned to have a bit of a sea change for six months when our youngest daughter was little but we decided to move here permanently four years ago so many things had to change,” said Sonia.
“Work had to change but the team I work with have always been so supportive so that was quite an easy transition which I’m so grateful for. “Then organising the kid’s schools and choosing high schools and changing sports etc. was a big deal.
“The big life changing moment that came out of this though is that you can make changes to your life if you want to. We obviously had to make some compromises but we did it – we realised that we could lead a life at a slower pace and I could still work and spend lots of time with the kids.
“I’m not saying it is for everyone but we just bit the bullet and here we are.It has certainly helped me slow down, appreciate my family and also really enjoy my friendships as you don’t get to see everyone as much as you are used to.”.”ounder/Director of AssistASista)
In addition to striving to be as kind and considerate as possible Sonia’s daily aim is making sure that she looks after herself physically and mentally.
“Taking time out with my husband is important too,” she said.
“Everyone who knows me, knows that I normally operate at a million miles per hour and take on too much and it’s just not sustainable.
“So over the past year or so I have really tried to slow down and being a good friend, a good wife and Mum is what is driving me personally at this stage of my life.
“Obviously, I don’t get it right all of the time but my aim personally is to put people and family before work. Work is a great part of all our lives but striving to make my family a priority instead of work is something I will always try to aim for.
How You Can Help RizeUp
Sonia says there are many ways to help, including setting up the homes, writing grant applications, fundraising, helping coordinate donations, helping with social media, website and helping out at events.
“Whatever your skill base we can find a job for you,” said Sonia.
“Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and you will love it – we guarantee it.”