Social Change Champion: Patricia Scheetz
There’s no greater feeling than a second chance at an extraordinary life. And Patricia Scheetz knows this more than most. In 2011, she faced complications from a lifetime of managing type 1 diabetes and urgently needed a life-saving double organ transplant. With only months to live, she received the greatest gift of all – a kidney and pancreas transplant.
Yet once she recovered, she encountered ongoing obstacles which were particularly difficult for her to overcome. One major obstacle was the difficulty in sustaining stable employment due to the changing and sometimes unpredictable nature of her health. Her experience mirrored the experience of many other transplant recipients and chronic health sufferers. This led her to think of ways she could make a difference in the professional lives of fellow transplant recipients.
In response to her experience and in honour of her donor, Patricia founded The Sweetest Gift – a dessert restaurant created specifically to employ transplant recipients and those living with chronic illness. We sat down with Patricia to find out more about how she is working to promote social inclusion, and provide a stimulating and understanding work environment for transplant recipients and those living with chronic illness.
What is your social enterprise elevator pitch?
The Sweetest Gift employs transplant recipients and people living with chronic illnesses in a sweet gig – within a for purpose dessert restaurant.
What are your biggest personal and/or professional challenges as a social entrepreneur in Australia?
Both personally and professionally, my biggest challenges are pretty much the same – the fact that no-one has done what I’m doing for the group that I’m helping (which is also an unrecognised group) and I’m also one of those people who has their own health challenges to combat as well as keeping this all together – but I know both personally and professionally how much this will be worth it when it’s up and running.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received so far since starting your own social enterprise?
That my passion will keep me focused. And it definitely has – in the hard times when it feels like I want to throw in the towel, I remember why I started this, and I just get back on with it. The other thing I was told is that people will tell me not to do it – and they have – people have put me down for what I want to achieve, but I was told that they would do this because they just don’t understand WHY you’re doing what you’re doing, and you need to learn to be okay with that. It’s a hard thing to learn, but it does get easier the more that you achieve.
If you were to start over, is there anything you would do differently?
I would have started this sooner and let go of the fear of doing it!
Where do you see the future of social enterprise in Australia?
Having spoken at a few youth events, I’m excited to see an emerging generation of social entrepreneurs, and also a growing acceptance of social enterprises as businesses of choice for consumers. It will certainly keep flourishing in a society where people are after some sort of connection to the items that they purchase.
What appeals most to you about Social Change Central?
I love the fact that it’s a community of like-minded people that we can all gain inspiration from as we each change the world in our own unique way.
The Social Change Central changemaker community is growing at a fast rate. How can our members learn more about you and help support your organisation (e.g. are you looking for funding, PR, marketing support, volunteers, interns)?
We’re currently still quite small, so I’m after any help that we can get with regard to funding, PR, copywriting and marketing. Volunteers – we’re essentially one person who volunteers full time and another who volunteers after working a full time job, so any extra support would be GREATLY appreciated.
And finally, what would you do if you found a lottery ticket that ended up winning $10 million?
We’d have our first restaurant up and running in a snap, employing our first 20 staff and be looking at expansion interstate – wow, our five year plan would fall together pretty fast!
Are you a Social Change Champion? Want to be interviewed? Join as a Gold Member.