The Sam Project - Raising awareness for mental illness
Travelling around Australia with their mobile cafe and expedition truck called "Sam", founders Scott & Florence Harrod have dedicated their time to free education sessions, yoga and exercise classes to create awareness of mental health.
Vittoria Coffee has sponsored The Sam Project throughout their journey and Scott and Florence recently shared some of their experiences in a letter to our Managing Director, Rolando Schirato;
Hope this finds you well, just thought we would send you an update of where we are at with The Sam Project and our wonderful association with Vittoria.
Five months ago, after selling everything we own to fund The Sam Project, we started our indefinite journey throughout Australia and so far we have covered about 19,000kms. We first went to Winton in outback Queensland where we knew the drought had been severe for years and help might be much needed; it is indeed! Scott, being an ex-farmer, was able to connect on a deeper level to the farmers we came across and more than anywhere, we realised how the stigma of mental illness is entrenched, especially in rural and remote communities, and how the simple act of talking about it can help lift the weight and motivate people to find help.
After Winton we went South through western Queensland to reach the Northern end of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. We then came West travelling through Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Cobar, Dubbo en route to Sydney where we attended the Sydney Aroma festival of which Pauls milk was a sponsor. They had managed to arrange for the Sam Project to occupy a prime position on George street outside the MCA. What an epic and worthwhile day this was! We gave away more than a thousand coffees for a gold coin donation and managed to raise $1,300 which we gave to the Black Dog Institute. The organisation for the day was seemless and Cassandra; kind, caring and efficient as she is, managed to source 2 fabulous Vittoria staff for the day, Charlie and Zac, who were a true credit to the company. On this note we had sent our feedback to Cass after the day and she made sure Charlie's manager would get it as well.
The boys making coffee on the day allowed us to engage with people in the queue and raise awareness about mental health. Carried by the success of the day, Pauls organised for us to attend the Maitland aroma festival a few weeks later and we engaged in hundreds of meaningful conversations on the 2 days of the festival.
Not only were we overjoyed to be able to live and breathe our mission, it was with great pride that we were serving Vittoria's coffee. At both festivals the feedback was consistently amazing, many people came back to us saying this was the best coffee around.
Whilst it was a great opportunity for us to take our mobile cafe to the two festivals, the main purpose for our mobile cafe is for us to provide a place everywhere we go where people can come and talk in a non threatening relaxed environment. It has proved to be an amazing success.
After Maitland, we headed up the North Coast all the way to Townsville and talked to hundreds of people on a weekly basis. It doesn't stop amazing us how open people are about their issues around their own mental health or someone close to them. We started our journey with a handful of statistics which keep proving true in real life, such as 1 in 5 Australian will experience an episode of mental illness this year and 70% of those won't seek for help mainly because of the stigma, not understanding what is happening with them or not believing anyone can help them.
As we drive around Australia and pull over at every opportunity to open our coffee trailer, we are very proud of our association with Vittoria; Vittoria's signage on the side of our coffee trailer, wearing our Vittoria aprons when serving coffee and representing the company in every way we can. We love telling the story of how you came on board and letting everyone know what values Vittoria has as a company. We even printed some flyers that we now systematically give away with every coffee we serve and/or make available for people to pick up near our donation box.
We have so much respect for the leadership in Vittoria, we can sense it with every interaction we have had with your staff. I will always remember the adoration conveyed by the warehouse worker who helped me bring the coffee to the truck last time we came to pick up an order. This is a sign of a great culture that your combined leadership skills would have no doubt created.
Thanks again from the bottom of our hearts. We are incredibly grateful for your generosity and making it possible for us to fullfil our mission of helping others.
Scott and Florence