The Story Behind Groove Away The Blues, a Fab Local Fundraiser
A Family Run Event Kicking Serious Fundraising Goals.
In its fifth year of creating some fundraising magic, Groove Away The Blues is one fantastic event! This year, it will be held at the Mittagong RSL on Saturday 24 July and tickets are already moving fast. So good to see the local community getting behind such an important cause.
And who’s behind the event? The amazing Gennene Turner (she might not see herself that way, but we do!), owner of local biz Highlands Health Club. Gennene and her family pull together an incredible program of entertainment and fundraising every year to raise money for the Black Dog Institute, in memory of her brother.
We spoke to Gennene about this fab event, and how helping others has helped her heal.
Gennene and her daughter, Demi-Lea
1 :: Where did the inspiration come from to create Groove Away The Blues?
I lost my brother to suicide 23 years ago on his thirtieth birthday. I always wanted to do something in honour of his memory so when I learnt about the Black Dog Institute a number of years ago, I decided to hold a fundraiser. This is my way of honouring him and contributing to the community.
2 :: Tell us about your brother.
You know, he was the life of the party. He hid what he was going through so well, which was normal for back in those days. It’s a generational thing. So many men have been told to toughen up, don’t cry, just get through it........ my brother was taught to hide his feelings. He didn’t know how to reach out and ask for help. And we didn’t know he was in such a dark place.
3 :: Groove Away The Blues is in its fifth year. What can people expect from the event this year?
There’s plenty happening, that’s for sure! Lots of entertainment – the Martini Henry’s are playing, a burlesque group is performing, an aerial artist, a bioluminescent dancer and my daughter and I are doing a performance too. We’re both trained in pole dancing so will be telling a story of hope with our performance.
We also have a small number of people representing organisations speaking about what services and assistance they offer in the mental health area. I’ll be speaking about my own experience as well. My daughter, Bree asked me if I’ll cry again this year. The answer is yes! It’s a very emotional as well as entertaining night.
There will be plenty of opportunities for people to contribute to the fundraising goal. We’ll have a live auction with Nick Johnston from Pickles Auctions running that, there is a balloon raffle, people can buy the table centrepieces and take them home, and there will be opportunities for people to drop $5 here or $10 there throughout the night. It all goes towards our end fundraising goal.
Entertainment includes performances from Empress Stah, Gennene and Demi-Lea and Bioluminescence performers.
4 :: Which is.....?
$35,000. We’ve raised a total of over $42,000 at our previous events and we missed out on last year because of COVID, so we’re going to aim high for this one.
5 ::There is so much entertainment on the night which is fantastic. Why the focus on dance and music?
After my first daughter was born, I suffered from PND. That was 25 years ago, and most people back then didn’t know what PND was or how to deal with it.
I knew I wasn’t feeling right but music would help me get through the day. When I was feeling low, I would play a certain song – Step By Step by Whitney Houston it was – and it would help.
I didn’t ask for help. I was embarrassed. I felt like a failure as a mother but thankfully I recognised I wasn’t in a good place so worked on my own mindset to help pull myself back out of it, and music helped with that.
Since then, it’s always played a big part in my life and what I do, so using music and dance as a way to celebrate something or help people feel better speaks to me.
6 :: How has creating this legacy helped you and your family?
It’s been such a great experience for us all. My husband, Paul is involved. My daughter Demi-Lea does all the flyers and artwork for me. She puts the program together, does the banners and does an amazing job. My son Luke and other daughter, Bree are also involved.
My husband, Paul has suffered from PTSD, depression and anxiety which is another reason why I do this event. I’ve seen him improve so much in the last few years. He went and got help and his involvement in organising Groove Away The Blues has really seen him blossom.
And he talks about it now, with other people. He talks to people about what they’re going through. He knows he’s not the only going through this and helps people who may be going through a tough time feel less alone too. It’s so important to talk.
Gennene with husband, Paul.
7 :: There has been plenty of local businesses helping out too.
Oh yes, so many. I wish I could mention them all and if you come along on the night, I definitely will! A few to mention here include All In Gate Motors, Luminous Entertainment, Custom Printing, and Attention Signs & Graphics who have been with us from the start. Di Molto sponsor us every year too.
Some new sponsors include Highlands Sand & Soil and Pack & Send Mittagong. Domin8 Concrete Pumping, Power Line Design and Warren Gannon Photography are also on board. Flowers by Annette will be doing the table centrepieces this year too. Most of these companies are family run and to have them donate towards the fundraiser in some way means so much.
8 :: What does seeing an event like this come together mean to you?
This has helped me heal. It’s taken a long time to come to terms with losing my brother. The grief is still very raw, and you never get over losing someone close to you like that but helping other people has helped me help myself.
Tickets to the Groove Away The Blues Masquerade Ball at the Mittagong RSL are selling fast – there are less than 50 tickets left! Head here to grab your ticket and be part of an amazing, local fundraiser.
Gennene and her three children [L to R] Luke, Bree and Demi-Lea.