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A mad idea that is paying off

HANNAH SPYKSMA
Last updated 05:00 01/12/2010
MAD
GIVING BACK: Melina Schamroth had a m.a.d idea to hold a volunteer evening to try to find a boyfriend, and now runs a successful networking venture based on the concept.

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Mad is the key word for a social entrepreneur determined to connect people and give back to communities.

Expat Aucklander Melina Schamroth is all about making a difference – or m.a.d – and she's back in town this week to launch her programmes with a twist.

"For many people, they want to get involved in their community, but don't know where to start," she says.

Tonight at Lifewise Hub on Karangahape Rd, the Melbourne resident is starting the first of her m.a.d women nights.

Gals Doin' Good is a chance for women of all ages to meet, have a chat, network, and make a difference at the same time.

Participants will be putting Christmas hampers together and wrapping gifts for disadvantaged people.

The concept of m.a.d came about when Ms Schamroth was looking for a boyfriend a few years ago.

She was told she was more likely to find somebody while doing something she loved.

As a social experiment she put together a networking evening which combined two passions – making a difference and having a good time doing so.

The result was not only finding her long-term partner, but also has led to her successful business venture running networking get-togethers across Australia and now for the first time in New Zealand.

Ms Schamroth is also planning to start up her single volunteers evening, which brings single people aged in their 20s to 40s together to mix and mingle while contributing to people in need.

"It takes away the awkwardness of being single and gives people a chance to meet, who are also wanting to interact and give a little back to their communities," she says.

The singles night was planned for tomorrow, but Ms Schamroth decided to postpone it out respect for the Pike River mine disaster.

"I did a lot of charity work after the Victoria bushfires and I know the mood of the country may not be the best for events like this at the moment."

It is now being planned for in the new year.

All proceeds from Gals Doin' Good will go towards Lifewise – a charity Ms Schamroth first helped during the Big Sleep Out night in October.

She says it's important to help end homelessness in New Zealand.

Lifewise general manager John McCarthy says: "We rely heavily on donations and support from people like Melina, because there is little government funding to tackle homelessness."

If you are interested in participating in the Gals Doin' Good night, on from 6.30pm to 9.30pm at Lifewise Hub, 453 Karangahape Rd, visit www.madwoman.com.au to register.

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