11 July 2019, By DeafAdmin

Fostering Hope

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We spoke to our Lottery 178 Winner about his $705,000 prize win, and what it really means to help others.

As the fundraising arm of Deaf Services, The Deaf Lottery exists to raise money to help others, funding programs empowering Deaf and hard of hearing Australians to live independent, connected and social lives. It’s a real thrill, then, to know that the 1st Prize from Lottery 178 was won by someone who is equally as committed to helping others, and whose primary reward is the satisfaction of doing so.

Lou*, from Carseldine in Queensland, who won $705,000 with ticket number 0757928, got the call from us on a quiet Thursday morning at work, and immediately thought it was a hoax.

“I do stitch a lot of people up, and they stitch me up right back,” he laughs when we catch up a few weeks after his win. “I’d only just had a mate call me up to tell me I’d won a thousand dollars’ worth of dog food, so when I got the call I thought here’s someone having a go at me.”

After being reassured it was real, Lou was—for possibly the only time in his life—completely speechless. When he recovered he told us he’d call his wife and make reservations for a celebratory dinner with his family. Lou’s family, as it turns out, is quite a special one.

One of the first things we learned about Lou was that he and his partner were foster carers. What we didn’t know at the time was that they care full time for six children, aged from 5 to 13, including five siblings.

Lou’s partner bought foster caring into his life ten years ago, with the couple welcoming children into their lives for short-term two year stays. It was a world Lou was very familiar with.

“I’ve always looked after kids, all my life,” Lou says. “I’ve got three kids of my own from a previous marriage and now twelve grandchildren. If anyone ever needs me, I’m there at the drop of a hat.”

When the time came to decide whether to commit to long-term foster care, meaning care of a child until 18 years of age, Lou did not hesitate.

“It didn’t phase me,” he says. “My partner and I are both passionate about education. This occasionally means extra-curricular help if they need it, but mainly it’s about showing these kids real family care, away from situations involving drugs or violence.”

Lou admits that he and his partner have times when they “look at each other and wonder what the hell are we doing?”, but it’s clear the personal satisfaction they receive from helping others less fortunate far outweighs this.

“We love it,” he explains. “It’s our contribution to society. We’re trying to break generational cycles. It’s only six kids, but we’re teaching them not only self-respect, but the true value of helping others.”

Lou has been a VIP Deaf Lottery supporter since 2006, and says he is “happy to support any organisation that provides help to other people.”

He has told a few close friends about his win, and their response has been uniformly generous and loving. “They all told me I deserved it,” says Lou, as if not quite believing it. “I’m a firm believer of karma, though: what you give out, you get back in return. I’ve been waiting 57 years but now it’s happened,” he adds with a laugh.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Lou has already committed to buying even more tickets in the next Deaf Lottery. “I’m looking forward to getting the phone call again,” he jokes. “I’ll take that new bigger $750,000 prize!”

Lou tells us that his Deaf Lottery win has given him and his family security for the future.

“My partner and I always had this question in the back of our minds: how exactly are we going to retire? We thought we’d get the pension and work it out from there. Not any more!”

Lou’s first purchase was a new caravan. “We love taking the kids camping,” he tells us. “So much of foster caring is creating a safe environment for the kids, but we never really felt safe in a tent. This win means we can get a new caravan, go away and have peace of mind they’ll be sleeping safe.”

Lou is still considering what to do with the rest of the money, but knows that whatever form it takes will means an investment in his family’s future.

“We haven’t told the kids. They just know we’ve come into some money. I tell them that we’ve worked hard and been rewarded for it.”

We couldn’t agree more, Lou.

 

*Name changed to maintain anonymity