With Christmas not too far away, Elf Squad Inc. founder Stephanie Beitzel is busy ensuring children across Geelong have presents under the tree. She spoke to Ash Bolt about the charity and other projects she had in the works.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Melbourne, and moved to Geelong in 2015 after 15 fantastic years in the UK.
I chose Geelong as my new home because I always loved holidaying on the Bellarine and down the Great Ocean Road as a kid.
In 2015, Geelong was also on the cusp of a renaissance, and I knew this would be an exciting and dynamic place to work and play.
Most of my working life has generally been in marketing, media and events, with a strong entrepreneurial streak.
Volunteering on the side, to make a difference in my community, has also always been important to me. This theme has continued in Geelong.
Where did the idea of Elf Squad Inc. come from?
In the UK, Christmas experiences run by charities are very established and popular.
Every year, I used to look forward to gathering with like-minded people to pack food hampers, fill Christmas stockings and provide Christmas meals and services for locals in need.
When I moved to Geelong, I discovered similar programmes were not in existence, and I really missed the tradition!
So, I roped in a committee of volunteer “elves” from the local business and community sectors, and by Christmas 2017, Elf Squad was born!
What else are you working on?
In early 2022, with the support of the City of Greater Geelong, I am launching the membership and events organisation, Tech for Geelong Inc., to drive digital innovation, inclusion and impact in the Greater Geelong region.
I’m also on the Geelong Committee of Fight Cancer Foundation, to raise funds for regional cancer patients, through the Love Red Lunch, held annually in March at the Geelong Football Club.
What are your favourite things to do locally?
I love cruising vintage furniture markets, going dancing wherever ’70s and ’80s music is cranking, and being an elf from October each year!
How are you coping with COVID-19?
I’m an introverted-extrovert, so I’ve probably coped better than most.
I’m definitely hankering for events and re-connecting with friends and business networks.
What’s something about you that people might not know?
In 2002, I won the Sydney Morning Herald Bizarre Sports Story of the Year Award.
When I attended the Queen Mother’s Funeral, I spotted a bouquet sent by the Albury Greyhound Association.
This was before social media, so I sent a photo of the bouquet to the AGA, so they knew it arrived safely.
They were so grateful, they named an annual greyhound race after me. Bizarre, indeed!