Read the Gay Hold Talks About Project School Formal Podcast TRANSCRIPT
Andrew: Look, thank you very much for your company. Looking back all those years ago, I guess for me, school formal it was a big thing at the time, my schooling life, everything that was everything and I would imagine that would be the same for you, the listener, because you know at those times you haven’t lived, you haven’t had all of those other things that put into perspective, maybe where school fits in your life and maybe where something like the school formal fits in your life. So it’s the biggest thing to happen probably to date. It is something that’s really defining and it’s probably one of those things where because of our society in a way that our schools work that formals, everybody is expected to be involved and to turn up with the best outfits on and be prepared and be able to participate in it.
But that’s not necessarily the case because same for me, thinking back to that time, it wasn’t free, it cost money. There was everything from, I remember groups and it was probably a distraction through the final year of high school. But a group sort of came together that were wanting to get limo’s together or different forms of transport, after parties and then of course the outfit. And that, it can probably be really quite disconcerting. It can probably be a source of anxiety and all sorts of other pressures for somebody that may not be in a position to be able to participate for something that is meant to be a celebration. It’s a defining moment of you finishing your schooling life, but there’s somebody in Toowoomba that is working really, really hard to make sure to democratise entirely the attendance and participation in school formals. And there are some really amazing stories in relation to that. Have a chat with Gay who’s in charge of project school formals. Darryl’s on the line, Darryl, how are ya?
Darryl: Oh mate, going really well. Another busy weekend in Toowoomba, it’s just crazy, madness. It’s going well.
Andrew: Toowoomba doesn’t stop for anything. Look, I’ve been looking into those projects school formal, you brought that on my radar and there’s some really touching stories. Do you have a chat with Gay about this?
Darryl: Yeah. I will certainly, Hi Gay, how are you this morning.
Gay: I’m good Darryl, yourself?
Darryl: Oh, that’s very, I’m going very well. To our listeners, Gay has got a very busy salon in Toowoomba, she- I think I was busy, but she always finds time for communities. She’s working on a project called Project School Formal and Hair Aid which we’ll talk to that a bit later on. But Gay, how many years has Project School Formal been running now?
Gay: This is our fifth year this year.
Darryl: Wow. Five years. Do you want to tell the listeners a bit about what how it came about and what you’re trying to achieve?
Gay: When I first started I was with a girlfriend, Paula, Lucas and myself and a fellow hairdresser and a fellow salon owner. And we noticed there was kids that just were simply not talking about their formals and realised that they couldn’t go and it just broke our hearts that they couldn’t number one, afford a dress and number two, afford to have their hair and makeup done. And so Paula and I just started, it mainly started with Flexi School actually. And then I think we started with maybe 50 dresses on the first year and I think we’re looking at about close to 900 dresses and maybe 60 suits sitting in [crosstalk 00:03:25] three shops at the moment.
Darryl: That’s amazing. And you’re right, it is quite an expensive adventure for the kids to go to with suits and dresses and cars and it goes on and on.
Gay: I think it’s the one time they don’t get back and there is a dignity to be able to go. It’s as simple as that.
Darryl: That’s right. So this is the fifth year and it did start in Toowoomba. Now you’re reaching out around, what, the whole of Queensland and even into the territory?
Gay: And beyond. Like last year Rotary, South the Edge came on board with me because it was just getting far too big for me to handle. We’ve had some amazing companies come on board in Toowoomba to allow this to happen. For example, John Collins to start with, the letting us have the store, Storage King that allows us to store everything. But Follomont Transport are the ones who transport it around for us. So they allow us to get it out with safe freight for nothing for us. So without the support of our community, this is something that can’t be done. We’ve actually had Air North come onboard this year and they’re freighting some dresses all the way up to Elcho Island, which is above Arnhem Land. Now to meet a freight, one of those boxes up there is two and a half thousand dollars. So fantastic to have businesses like this on board supporting the kids.
Darryl: And that’s what I love about this Toowomba community. Everyone just sort of pitches in and gives a hand, which is just really fantastic. So listen with the Project School Formal how can schools get involved, what do they got to do?
Gay: All they need to do is contact us through our Facebook page and then I have an amazing team of volunteers. I have 40 volunteers and they’re just from the community. It’s amazing. A particular lady, Brodie, that I couldn’t be doing this without her help. So I’m Brodie will message the girls back and organise, and guys that we’d look after heaps of guys as well, organise a time for a fit-out. Now the shop will be shutting at the end of this month. So they really have to get their act together and getting there as quick as they can. There might be ones that were thinking they just couldn’t go and this is a reach out to let them know they can and we’re here to support them.
Darryl: Excellent. You were in the Carnival of Flowers Parade in that and you had one special, a little girl there that was, has been fitted out for this year. Is that correct?
Gay: Oh, sorry, I missed what you said there Darryl.
Darryl: Oh yeah, you did. You did the Carnival of Flowers Parade and you had one of the girls there she’s been fitted out ready for this year’s school formal?
Gay: Yes, yes. Well we look after Clifford Park Special School as well, so that’s amazing. There’s each and every student, we actually fit out and we do their hair and it’s my most favourite time of the year. I actually go and watch them arrive and seeing them all together. Absolutely. It’s just amazing. We had a young girl that had lost her mother only a month ago that we fitted out and to say it’s an emotional time when that’s happening is probably an understatement.
Darryl: Yep, yep. That’s great, really great work Gay and all your volunteers and the Rotary Edge for getting together on that so if you do want some assistance there and listeners there, if the parents are listening, just go to Facebook to the Project School Formal and get in touch with Gay and certainly they’ll reach out to you so. And you’re also- yeah Andrew, yeah go mate.
Andrew: Yeah I was just going to say Gay, for those that have already enjoyed their school formal and they’ve got their outfit, they might be thinking about putting that in the wardrobe to look back on. Surely they can send that to a greater purpose. Can they donate that to you?
Gay: Yes, they certainly can. At the moment though, and this is how beautiful our community is Andrew, is that our shop is full. We have people that have donated, I had a $40,000 donation from J’adore Dresses. Dresses from brand new, from Grand Central. And we rely on each and everyone who’s got somebody who’s got something in their cupboard as you say, to donate to us. And we’re lucky we’ve got such a beautiful proactive community that they do get in and do donate. But for this year, because we’re closing in two weeks, we’ve actually asked for the donations to stop for now and to say that for next year. Our objective right now is just to get those dresses out to the girls and boys in need.
Andrew: So that means your outfit, your formal outfit that you wore, don’t try and put it in on to Project School Formal just yet, but put a little bit of care and attention into, go get it dry cleaned, get it into pristine condition. It will be a part of your donation, put it into the cupboard, and think about that over Christmas and in the new year, you’ll be able to send that to a greater purpose. Would that be a fair comment?
Gay: Absolutely. Look, Andrew We’ve actually had people donate all over Australia. We’ve had them sending through from the ACT New South Wales, even Western Australia. So it’s amazing how a widely spread this is. So we’ve just gone into the South Burnett Times and North burnett Times because we’ve probably exhausted out West with our dresses and suits at the moment because we sent a heap out there. Now we’re looking up in the Northern area, so we’re really spreading far and wide to to share the love.
Andrew: Wow Gay, well done to you and the community. Darryl, as you mentioned earlier, Gay’s a very important person that does a whole lot of work and this isn’t just the only project, you want to have a chat with her about something else too.
Darryl: Yeah, certainly a great community leader Gay is. And date claimer for everyone, for Project School Formal, is October the 26th. We’re down at the Irish Club Hotel and we’re having a trivia night raising some funds. What are we raising funds for there, Gay? What’s the purpose of the trivia night?
Gay: [inaudible 00:09:24] to actually help out because everything costs money. Even setting up the shop and buying racks and things like that. To make this happen, we need some funds in there. And so it’s all for those kids out there so I’m encouraging anybody who listens that we’re having a fun filled trivia night on the 26th, Saturday starting at six o’clock. Or if you’ve got a raffle prize, if you can’t make it, you’ve got something that maybe we can raffle off to please drop into Jazzy Lane and 8 Duggan street. And so we can start raising some funds for these kids.
Darryl: I’m really looking forward to that night and yours truly as the host for that night. So I’m really looking forward to my contribution for that project. So day claimer October 26th. Go and get your tickets, check it out it’s Project School Formal. Gay, you and I are passionate about homelessness in Toowoomba, which is unfortunately on the rise and you got involved with a lovely lady named Selina who’s got Hair Aid. Tell us a bit about Hair Aid.
Gay: Yes so Hair Aid is a project that has actually gone worldwide now. They’re in lots of different countries among the project for Toowomba up here. So basically what I do is I coordinate hairdressers from all different salons. It’s not about me, it’s about my community. There can be up to nine, ten of us that will go to two different areas. So one is the Base soup kitchen with Nat and Tiff Speigh, who I absolutely adore. So we’ll go there and we’ll just do 30 haircuts in two hours and continue to look after them every six weeks. The other place that we do go is the Housing Hub, which is an amazing centre in Toowoomba that look after everyone using different facilities. I’m probably not explaining that right, but they’re incredible with what they do. So we’ll also go there every six weeks to look after those people at risk of homelessness or homelessness.
Darryl: Andrew, this is absolutely amazing. Now yourself when you get a haircut you feel so good. When you see a homeless person or someone who’s really struggling to get a haircut and get their beard trimmed and tidied up, you just see them glowing and it’s absolutely amazing, mate. Absolutely-
Andrew: That’s absolutely right. Yeah Gay look we’ve seen those, they’ve had some of those before and after shows on TV where somebody absolutely looks dishevelled and then they get cleaned up and the difference in the way that they’re received in the community. But does this also potentially lead to, just because they’ve had that opportunity, that start, they didn’t really know too, maybe even in the first place look after themselves to get a haircut, but they could actually get back into employment.
Gay: We only did a project on Tuesday, Andrew, at the Base soup kitchen and there was a lady that come and saw me and her hair was really quite matted and she was actually going for a cleaning interview that afternoon and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be able to help her. And I put a- got all the knots out and gave her a hair cut and put it in a really neat braid ready for her interview. So that’s exactly what it’s about, it’s incredible. And hearing these stories is something that I absolutely, I live for. I just think that’s what fills your soul. But and again I can’t do this without the help of the community helping me do this. So it’s not just all about me, it’s about the community helping-
Darryl: That’s it. And Gay you’re a great community leader and the people that just love getting involved and I really do appreciate everything you’re doing in this community. I thought I was doing a lot, Gay’s certainly a great [inaudible 00:13:01] Andrew.
Andrew: Yeah, Isn’t that absolutely sensational. And Gay actually needs to head off to do, I think some hairdressing right now. That’s why we moved this interview forward. That’s just how busy you are. And thank you very much for your service to the community. I think on behalf of Darryl, myself and all of our listeners, you’re doing a fantastic job. Is there an easy way for people just to get into contact with you and maybe find out what project you’re up to and how they can support that?
Gay: I’ve certainly got a Facebook page, so just contacting me through Facebook is the easiest way because it’s I the community working together, we make things happen. So I think that’s an important part.
Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. Well Gay thank you very much for your time.
Gay: That is my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Andrew and Darryl I appreciate that.
Darryl: Thanks Gay, take care.