Vinnies CEO Sleep Out participant Mirko Milic says he’s always been a strong believer in giving back to the community, whether it is through involvement with a charity or sporting groups.
As the Canberra Toyota Dealer Principal, Mirko says he is keen to lead by example his 360 staff across seven sites in the ACT, by demonstrating first hand that community involvement enriches their character and lives.
It is more than a slogan for Mirko, who is preparing for his eighth Sleep Out in a row on 20 June. He has encouraged his staff and the community groups his business supports to join him in raising awareness and funds for the homeless.
There are plenty of community organisations that benefit from the support of Mirko Milic and Canberra Toyota, ranging from the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, Marymead, Communities@Work, Planet Ark, Ronald McDonald House, Diabetes ACT and NSW, Dementia Australia and St Vincent De Paul Society. And the list goes on.
Then there are the sporting groups; the Raiders, AFL Canberra, Cricket ACT, the Gungahlin Eagles, the Belconnen Magpies, Canberra Brave, Canberra Olympic FC, Canberra FC and the GWS Giants.
Mirko says his motivation was to change the perception that the public appear to have of car dealers. But the need to build stronger communities and support others is likely to have its foundation in his family.
As the son of parents who emigrated from Croatia to Wollongong in the 1950s, Mirko would have experienced first-hand the importance of working and giving. His dad was a steel worker and his mum a cleaner.
Mirko took on the Dealer Principal role with Canberra Toyota in 2011 after working in the car finance industry and dealerships in Wollongong, Liverpool and Cessnock.
Since then, he has led by example, encouraging his staff to become involved in charitable works. Mirko says his staff now all lead by example, volunteering for St Vinnies Night Patrol among a range of other charitable works.
He is always looking at ways his organisation can help others. One innovative scheme the dealership is involved in is the recycling of plastic car seat covers. These are sent to an organisation that weaves them into blankets for use by Vinnies.
I was moved to write about Mirko after several first-hand experiences of the support he gives to charity and sport. For the Ronald McDonald House Ball, not only does he provide a $62,000 car to be raffled but also his staff volunteer on the night of the ball, and the following day as drivers for VIP guests and Ronald McDonald House sponsors.
I have also seen the support he provides my rugby club, the Gungahlin Eagles, which is almost immeasurable.
Without him, Canberra would be a poorer place to live.