Find out how your rewards points can help the homeless
IT WAS a chance meeting that happened to be filmed by a news crew covering Dave Drury's effort to provide sleeping bags for Sydney's homeless.
Mr Drury handed Paul Antaw a sleeping bag and then patted his back, in Sydney's inner suburbs last October.
It was a single moment caught in the crew's lens that connected Paul and Mr Drury.
The rough sleeper, aged 38, was stabbed to death on Sydney streets about three months after he was captured on camera.
Mr Drury learnt of Paul's death via a phone call from the outreach service he uses to distribute the sleeping bags.
"It absolutely broke me," he said.
"It breaks me every time I talk about Paul and it reminds me of why I'm doing what I'm doing."
He is the founder of Points for Purpose, a movement that allows anyone to donate their unused rewards points to buy homeless people sleeping bags.
He teamed up with a songwriter friend to dedicate a song to Paul's memory.
Paul had been living on and off the inner Sydney streets since his mid-20s.
His youngest sister, Jane Antaw, said he seemed happier on the streets than in homes. He was the oldest of five children.
She said Paul had a history of minor criminal misdemeanours, and had battled drug problems and done stints in jail.
"He liked being in the city because there was so much (services) for him in there," Jane said.
She remembered a practical joker and larrikin and a slick guitar player who often came to her home with presents for her children.
"Anyone who knows him knows he always had a smile on his face, he cared about his family," she said.
"He'd always have us laughing when he'd come here, and my kids laughing. My kids idolised him.
"They looked up to him like a father figure."
The 29-year-old was at home the day the detectives came knocking on her door to deliver the news of her brother's death.
"All I remember is them telling me what happened and then everything was a blur for the next hour or so," Jane said.
"I fell to the ground screaming."
Jane said knowing other people also cared about her brother and that he had touched their lives made her feel less alone in her grief.
"I have no words to describe how I feel about that," she said.
Jane cried the first time she heard the song dedicated to Paul.
"They make me want to go out and help people who are struggling, even though I'm struggling myself," she said.
"They give me hope that I can get through this, that I can come out the other side, and I'm grateful for all the help they've given him in the past."
Mr Drury does not want this ripple effect of kindness and comfort generated by Points for Purpose to be confined to Sydney streets.
The 43-year-old said he was taking his idea worldwide.
"Points for Purpose has a massive vision, but we've started at rough sleeping," he said.
"What we will do, and where we're going, is that we want to be able to help anyone, anywhere, use their points for any purpose."
He stumbled upon the idea for Points for Purpose as he was scrolling through his Facebook feed after an extended trip through Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and Cambodia.
Mr Drury had co-founded a successful technology company in 2010. He sold out of it in 2015, grabbed his surfboard and hopped on a plane.
"I've worked in the corporate world for 20 years and everything in the corporate world is all about profit," he said.
"I wanted to give myself permission to bring back meaning and purpose into my own life and bring more purpose into humanity."
As he continued to travel through these countries where people were not financially rich, but rich in other ways, he became increasingly humbled and began to think about what people truly needed in life.
"These people are beautiful and would give others their shoes, if they had them, to the person who didn't have them," he said.
When he returned to Australia, he stumbled across a Facebook post while at his mother-in-law's house in Toowoomba.
The post was from an old friend who was trying to give away 68,000 of his rewards points in September last year. Other friends had put up their hands to take them and use them.
Mr Drury said that his travels had changed his mindset and the opportunity to use the points in a different way presented itself as he read the post.
He added his two cents to the social media thread.
"I wrote back 'I don't think anyone needs any more crap in their lives. How about we give them to the underprivileged'," Mr Drury said.
The person giving away the points agreed with him and asked if he had a charity in mind.
"To which I replied 'No, but leave it with me'."
He went outside later that night and the cool weather got him thinking about the homeless people who would not have a warm night's sleep. A google of an airline's rewards point system unearthed a number of sleeping bags on offer.
Mr Drury wrote back to his Facebook mate, who spent his points on the sleeping bags and sent them to Mr Drury's address.
"It was at that point I thought 'Oh, I've got to do something. Who do I give them to?' It really dawned on me the responsibility of actually having to give them to someone," he said.
He formed an alliance with the Coptic Orthodox Community Outreach Service that has been working in Kings Cross with rough sleepers for years, and handed the sleeping bags on to them.
A Facebook post on his personal page prompted 20 more donations of sleeping bags. And the movement grew from there. To date, more than 130 bags have been handed to the outreach service for distribution.
Drury said the biggest point of difference between his movement and other charities is that Points for Purpose uses reward points like currency, rather than using money, and that he works with existing services and charities to distribute the sleeping bags.
"The average Australian has four loyalty programs," Drury said.
"Let's use somebody's waste, and something we receive for free, and turn it into value.
"It's not so different from the concept of recycling cardboard."
HOW TO DONATE:
POINTS for Purpose works by encouraging people to buy items for rough sleepers.
Points for Purpose is linked with three different loyalty programs.
Activate your points and use them to buy the items recommended on the website. The next step is to ship the items to the address listed on the Points for Purpose website.
Even if you have no points, you can still contribute by purchsing a backpack bed through the website.
To donate, go to pointsforpurpose.org, and follow along at Instagram @pointsforpurpose.