On the 16th June 2011, Principal Ken Demlakian joined thousands of CEO's around the country by participating in the Vinnie's CEO Sleepout and sleeping rough for one night to raise awareness of the plight of more than 105,000 Australians who are homeless.

CEOs around the country united and spent a night on the streets, limited to a cup of soup and a bread roll for dinner, a cardboard mat to protect them from the cold, hard ground and spent the night trying to sleep with no shelter or protection from the elements. In severe instances of strong winds and rain, the CEOs were forced to scramble for cover at all hours of the night, and were woken time and time again by the sounds of a buzzing city.

The CEOs heard touching stories from those brave enough to share their painful experiences of homelessness and spent time in breakout sessions where they could nominate ideas on how businesses, the government and communities can work together to make a difference to the lives of homeless Australians.

Homelessness is about much more than not having a roof over your head; it is the erosion of a person's dignity, hope, health and self-esteem which is the most crippling and debilitating aspect for the many Australians

Ken found the experience extremely eye-opening and left with a changed perspective on homelessness. "It was incredibly heartbreaking to realise that many homeless Australians have lived colourful, respected lives and lost everything that once mattered to them through a traumatic life experience. Whether they have suffered a debilitating marriage breakup, or a business failure, it is not just on a financial level that these people have suffered…What I have seen more clearly is that the loss of hope and the loss of self-esteem is devastating to a person's ability to turn their life around. I have never been more appreciative of my support systems in life and the people around me, and I am incredibly humbled by my homeless experience."

The Vinnie's CEO Sleepout raised almost $1.5 million dollars for NSW homeless services and $4 million dollars nationally which is an incredible achievement. But there is still a long way to go. The team at Demlakian is now looking to actively support the homeless population of Sydney and make a difference to the most vulnerable, disadvantaged and misunderstood people in our community.