Magnolia Gardens Fundraiser 2019

It’s August and the magnolias at the Davies-Colley gardens are out in full bloom – a variety of shades from deep burgundy to white to a surprising lemon.   All blooming together – different colours, different shapes, different heights. It is a spectacular sight.

It is the time of year for our Dreamers to begin their annual fundraising for their end of year camps.  And thanks to the generosity of the Davies-Colley’s, we’re able to use their stunning magnolia gardens as our annual camp fundraiser. We ran the fundraiser over two consecutive weekends – 17/18 August and 23/24 August, with the Dreamers getting stuck into the fundraising efforts too.  This year, each year level tackled a different day and took part in a mini enterprise where they learnt a variety of skills, from what it takes to create such an event to running a cafe and greeting visitors to sharing their newly found knowledge of these amazing trees.

First up to host was the Year 7’s.  The Dreamers had no idea what to expect but by the end of the day they were proud to have raised some funds for the camps and were blown away by the experience of running a cafe, taking gate fees and persuading visitors to buy raffle tickets.  Cath and Dave were amazing hosts ensuring the Dreamers received all the background knowledge of not only the gardens but their other business enterprise of making sewing machine tables (SewEzi). This business started from scratch is now highly successful.   

Year 7 Dreamer, Sylance, was a tour guide extraordinaire!   Sylance took his newly found knowledge of magnolias, weta boxes and hens that lay green eggs, and shared this information with every visitor that came through the gate.   The visitors were blown away with Sylance’s knowledge and enthusiasm. Other Dreamers in the cafe worked hard ensuring visitors were offered refreshments, cleared tables, chatted and generally ensured they enjoyed the cafe style atmosphere at the front of the house.  And then out at the gate, more Dreamers were beaming with pride at how successful the day was going, so when they were offered a change of position, the response was an adamant, 

“No way whaea, we’ve had 155 visitors in today and look how much money we’ve made.  No, we’re staying here!”, the Dreamers said.

When the Year 10s and 11s took their turn to host, it was the worst day of winter.  It was cold, rainy and windy. The visitor numbers plummeted from 155 to only 24. Their enthusiasm was not dampened as entrepreneurs Dave and Cath took them through their business plan from small beginnings to success.  These senior students learnt how success can come from an idea – how to build on it, research, market and constantly evolve the product. They left the gardens pumped on that stormy Sunday asking if they can return later in the year to talk more about business and to see the gardens in a summer setting.  Gardens owner Cath, was left very impressed, 

”These students were amazing and showed genuine interest in our business. I’d love to have them back at the end of the year.” Cath said.

Beautiful magnolia in full bloom
Blue chicken eggs

As we can see it’s not just about fundraising but about opportunity.   Opportunity to learn and grow – to participate in a small business venture of their own and to experience how to work hard achieve outcomes.  If it wasn’t for our enthusiastic Dreamers, many visitors could have come to the gardens and left after 30 minutes. But with the gatekeepers forthcoming knowledge of where to start the tour, the tour guides picking up the visitors to ensure they saw everything from weta boxes to green eggs, to the kitchen crew busily making tea, coffee and feeding the visitors, right through to the team on the raffles ensuring every visitor bought at least 3 tickets, meant that most visitors stayed on average between 1-2 hours.   

We had over 500 visitors through the gardens over the two weekends, raising almost $6,000. This money will go far in supporting our Dreamers with transportation costs, equipment hire and other daily expenses for their end of year camps.Thank you Cath and Dave for giving I Have a Dream this opportunity.   We will be back next August!


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