The final Secret Millionaire Chapter

Rod Kelly at 139 club - reviewing the art project

Rod Kelly at 139 club - reviewing the art project

I was asked last night after the airing of the program – ‘Did you enjoy the experience?’ ‘Enjoy’ no, did I find it challenging, confronting, and rewarding – absolutely.

I am not an actor, or in the entertainment industry. I have had little to do with television. I did the program on the premise that it was a documentary on volunteering. I did not know where I was going, who I would meet, nor how I would get on. But yes, it was an experience of a life time. I was touched moved and inspired by so many people I met. Humbled by what volunteers contribute throughout Australia. My life is now different, I see things in a different light.

I met many people, not all of which were part of the final story. Every person I met added to the experience and the insight I now have, and will continue to share what I have learned with others.

The personal challenge of course was, ‘how much and to whom.? There were so very many people each with an equally worthy story.

I chose a mini van for the CCS, it assists all the families both present and future – it was fun to work with them to get the right van at the right price… I’m in touch with Bill, and have been back to visit, have assisted with a big fund raiser in Toowoomba and we have become good friends. Andrew and I email back and forth – he gives me regular updates on Maddy. Maddy’s sister is due in just a few weeks and she is very excited. My daughter and I will visit in a few weeks time.

I chose a trailer for the DSA, the old one has since been passed to another club (yeah twice the benefit). Craig tells me it saves at least 3 person hours every meet so they can spend more time surfing and less putting chairs together. Craig and I have good long chats – with his ideas on the DSA and the possibilities for the organization. And I (and RedBalloon) look forward to our ongoing support being volunteers but also in its fund raising.

Steve and I email back and forth, we have vivid debates about life and the universe, I’m excited by his surf wear project and will continue to assist as he brings his product to market.

I chose to invest in an art program at 139 Club, it is about community and bringing people together. About expression and creativity. A mural has been painted, many artworks produced – and we have the art auction (in case you would like to come an purchase some art) on 13 November at the club, with the new catering service which is now off the ground – all of which will provide more income for the club. Rod and I email and talk on the phone, whilst not a mentor I am definitely a sounding board to assist with these new entrepreneurial endeavors.

And Judy, she delights at her new fridge, washer, dryer, wardrobe, computer and the other things she wanted. She tells me she will write a book when she is feeling just a bit better – I’ve sat with her in the Oncology Ward where we had time for her to recount her story – it will make a great book one day.

The money was given with love. But money can be divisive – why did you choose them and not the others, or why that amount?  There is no ‘right’ in this – I just did my best, what I could see would make a difference, but more than any of that they know that I give my love, friendship and ongoing support.

My life in Sydney has changed too. Peter (my husband)  got to know the folks at the Wayside Chapel supporting the homeless. I have created the ‘We care’ program at RedBalloon and now donate my speaking fees – to enable my colleagues to experience volunteering, already working with the Wayside Chapel hosting lunches for the homeless, working with Best Buddies – and we are looking forward to the big Sydney meet of the DSA.

Thank you for all the lovely emails, tweets and messages. But it is not ‘me’ it is ‘we’. Each of us can make a difference to others.

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  1. Sandra Martinez Garza
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Dear Naomi, I just wanted to congratulate you not just for being a woman entrepreneur but for having a beautiful family. I’m studying my masters degree and just got married; you showed me that you really can manage a business and have a family at the same time. It must be hard to do both so congratulations.
    The environment in your business looked fun and every employee seamed to be very committed and that’s what it’s all about. I would really like to apply for a job in Red Balloon; giving people experiences must be a great feeling and doing that for a job must be amazing. Where can I apply?


    Sandra Martinez Garza C.

  2. Dean Evans
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    “Hello and congratulations on your appearance on the secret millionaire show. What a range of uplifting and roller coaster emotions.

    One of the most interesting things I saw (and felt) was your obvious bristle at having to say that you were a successful person.

    I googled you so as to congratulate you and came upon this blog and now that I’ve read some of your blog today, I wanted to write to you to say that you’ve got nothing to apologise for or feel uncomfortable about as a result of having attained some successes in life.

    People who achieve and are prepared to give back and help others seem to be struck at (and often viciously so) by those in the community who are mediocre (and happy to be so) and just plain guilty at not lifting a finger in similar terms to those who do.

    Good luck to you Naomi. It was plain to see that your life is richer for the experience, as are the lives of those who you helped.”

  3. Posted October 30, 2009 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Naomi, thank you for the inspiration and reminder that we can all do something to help others.

  4. Faye Aboghazaleh
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 11:34 am | Permalink


    I just want to say THank you for your honesty on the show last night. It must have been hard for you to leave your family behind, but it is true that you will return to your family and work as a different person.
    Your genorsity to the community on the Gold Coast will never be the same.
    People who do so much good in our community often don’t make the news, but what you did is brave. Thank you for the service that you provide in the many activities with Red Balloon as well.
    Keep up the great work.

  5. Ian
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Hi Naomi, just want to say another big thank you on behalf of the Gold Coast DSA – your donation has made a huge difference to the way we can now organise our time and plus we’ve been able to pass our old trailer to another branch so that’s been another benefit. It was great to see us all in action on national TV. Thanks again!!

    Ian Gay, Vice-President, Gold Coast DSA

  6. Bec Coulson
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Naomi, I had to write and say congratulations on your work on last nights episode.
    The stories you had picked brought me to tears.
    What’s more it is great to read that you are continuing with your work and it just didn’t finish when the tape stopped rolling.
    You are inspirational!

  7. Posted October 30, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Naomi; I was so impressed with you on the tele last night! Not in a flashy kinda way, more in a human way.

    And to read more about how you’re using the experience to influence others – well, God put you in the right place!

    Best wishes,
    Peta Simpson

  8. Charlotte
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I watched a secret millionaire last night and have heard of red balloon before but I never knew about the great woman behind the company, I don’t know you but after watching the show last night I think you are truly an amazing person with a very generous heart and spirit. Not many people are able to do things for other and the kindness and compassion you showed for people was really wonderful, and I am really jealous of how easily you can connect with people! Well done :)

  9. Charlotte
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    What an absolutely amazing, fun, kind and generous woman you are. You have achieved so much in life and to do what you did in the show last night and support people who are less fortunate or going through tough times is wonderful. To do it with the great spirit and fun nature that you have is even more terrific. I’m very jealous of the way you are with people and how you can connect with individuals. If only more people were like you :)

  10. chris
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    What an inspiring person you are Naomi. I hope other entreprenuers/secret millionaires feel like sharing their wealth with these wonderful organizations. If l was in a position to do the same I certainly would too.

  11. Debra Lee
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Naomi I am truly moved, touched and inspired by you and what you have accomplished. I have been wondering where to start to volunteer now I know..just start somewhere. 2010 will be my time to give something back, not money but time, you are really very inspiring. Loved reading your blogs… Debra Lee

  12. Martine
    Posted October 30, 2009 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Hi Naomi,

    I watched the secret millionaire last night and was touched by the struggles of the people you met in a most humbling way. It really hit home on how fortunate we are sometimes and how we can take this for granted, especially when you see kids with cancer. They still have a life to fight for and they are so young to have to face this sort of challenge.

    Well done on allowing them to share their stories in a most compassionate way – I’m sure your contribution to each of them has made their lives that little bit easier. You’re one very inspirational lady.

  13. Karin Hanna
    Posted October 31, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    “Hi Naomi, ThankYou for being You, for yr Willingness to embrace the unknown & see how you can make a difference, for partaking in and sharing this Experience with us all on such a public platform. For showing us all that a kind word,That rolling up yr sleeves & getting involved also makes a difference.And that money can also be a powerful addition to helping the lives of others.

    I do believe we get what we believe & give our attention to.That experiences are the thing we grow & profit from the most, remember the most & take with us always. You have shown many Australians including me the power of Volunteering and starting debunking this common misconception that to have real financial success requires you being a horrible person…instead of being someone who makes the world better!

    I will look forward to reading your book and learning more from you in the future. You r indeed an Inspiration and a wonderful example of Entrepeneurship amongst Women.

    ThankYou again, continued success always KArin Hanna @luvyaa on twitter”

  14. Posted October 31, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    You are an amazing woman. I am so glad that there are still such generous people out there. You are an inspiration to so many people. Your heart and your kind gift I’m sure was appreciated by those that received it. Thank you for being you.

  15. Naomi
    Posted October 31, 2009 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    “Thanks for your comments ‘Caring Person’. It saddens me that you could not see the love in the program – and that you cynically saw ‘self promotion’. To be an entrepreneur is to be inextricably linked to the business. To understand where I came from the producers believed they could not exclude the business. I did not have anything to do with how the program was produced, or what film was shot.

    There were many more people that I met during the filming of the program than that are seen in the final program – at any one time at the Childhood Cancer Support unit there are 10 families – I met many. There are many children and families suffering – all supported by the great work of the CCS. There were a number of reasons why I chose not to give to any of the individual families – quite simply they were all equally deserving – as such I chose to give to the organization that supports so many.

    They don’t want toys – it is a cure they want.. Wellness

    Maddy has lost a liver, a kidney, her hearing, she has not had a solid meal in 18 months, most days she cannot walk. She has been the the ICU several times. All her parents want for her is a normal life. To have a first day at school. Quite frankly it never occurred to me to give a trip to Disneyland or toys – Their first dream for Maddy is to have her healthy. She cannot be more than 10 minutes from the hospital. Even contemplating going to the local park is a major deal. Toys do nothing for a child who is hurting and constantly feeling sick. The CCS has many many toys and resources for the children.

    If you would like to make a contribution to the CCS or Maddy – they can be contacted via the links above. I’m sure they will be equally appreciative of your generosity.”

  16. Caring Person
    Posted October 31, 2009 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations Naomi for being a successful businesswoman but I believe you used this show in the wrong way, your brand and business was a big part of the show and they way it was woven into the story took away from the show’s true focus, also the amount you gave (whilst your decision) was so little compared to the others and the fact that you did not give the little girl with cancer, or her family anything, not even some new toys was so sad to watch. A giver loves to give, I am sorry but this just seemed to calculated and too self promotional to be an experience which truly came from your heart and your heart alone.

  17. melinda
    Posted October 31, 2009 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    Naomi….I saw great love in your heart and your eyes during this programme…you touched these people emotionally and physically, it was so nice to see you give them hug really feel for them. I dont think you ‘self promoted’ at all. You lived their life for a moment and you gave accordinglyl….it was wonderful to see. Melinda

  18. theParasite
    Posted November 2, 2009 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    “Interesting reading Naomi’s comments claiming that it was not a self-promotion opportunity.

    My immediate response after watching the show was that parts of it felt like an advert.

    This was especially so after having seen many episodes of the UK version in which people’s businesses paid virtually no part.

    However my view has been changed some what having seen that Naomi is continuing her support of these very worthy organizations.

    One thing that disappoints me about this though, and it isn’t totally targeted at Naomi is how many wealthy people have absolutely no idea about issues like homeless people, disability and illnesses.

    I worked for a man who had far less wealth than Naomi and others and he was always out in the community finding people and organizations that he could and pulling his wallet out.

    He did it all without advertising his business as well.

    You have stepped out into the light, Naomi, I hope that you are able to "shame" more "entrepreneurs" into doing the same.”

  19. stephen
    Posted November 2, 2009 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Dear Naomi

    Sorry for the late comment but I only watched the show last night

    I think this show is brilliant and clutches at the heart on so many levels. It shows not just those in need but people like yourself who discover elements about themselves thru the experience.

    I have some friends who are cynical about the shows motives, etc but your compassion and emotion showed it is heartfelt and genuine.

    Thank you for giving money to those in need but more importantly for giving your effort and time away from your family. I have 2 children (healthy but for the grace) and couldn’t imagine 10 days without them. To sacrifce that to help others is more precious then any money.

    Thank you again

  20. melinda
    Posted November 2, 2009 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    It is so interesting to read how people react to a show like Secret Millionaire, It is a such a well meaning, inspiring show but still some people seem to always see another side to it. I challenge everyone that comments to go out and do something for someone less fortunate than themselves…we do not have to be ‘millionaires’ to make a difference…give a smile, give a loaf of bread, give some love……as we see from Naomi’s experience, it wasn’t about the money but wow what a difference she made to those people, she went into their world and made a life long difference, its not that hard to do..lets all go and do something with what we have, we do not have to be rich in money to make another persons life rich

  21. Fiona
    Posted November 6, 2009 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    “It saddens me that people can write such negative things, opinions about Naomi’s part in the show. It is clearly obvious – that the detractors don’t know anything of the reality about what it is like, to live the life of the people that are a part of this show week in week out.

    That is my reality! Ain’t no silver spoons here!

    Any money given – may be subject to Centrelink cutting their pay if it is to a person and they do the honest thing and declare it.

    A risk in itself when you can get docked for it by Centrelink.

    Or not declare and then get caught and fined – you may loose either way!

    To all the detractors – I challenge you!!!!! Go to the same sorts of organisations as Naomi did, go to the Paediatric wards, where sick kids with Cancer and their families support them.

    TRUELY See, live, think and understand the reality of it -

    the REALITY is very different to the SANITIZED MILDNESS of the TV Show!

    Unless you have lived the life, such as the people / families featured on the show – you can’t pass judgement on Naomi’s actions, because you don’t know or understand the predicament that she was placed in, due to the possible numbers of potential recipients.

    Don’t blame any of the Millionaires for Producers decisions – which you ignorantly misconstrue as grandstanding and advertising! That negates the beauty of the actions and the heart wrenching decisions of – just how much and who.

    That was not easy for every millionaire so far on the program.

    I say – every little bit helps in a huge bucket!

    Congrats Naomi – what you did took guts, compassion and a huge heart!”

  22. Posted January 14, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Tonight I saw the secret millionaire on televison here in Holland.
    I was very impressed and touched about the people and organisations you met and the way you get along with it. So I looked on the internet and found your website.
    I also read that you and your husband also do good work at home for all kind of organisations.
    I only wanted to compliment you.

    Kindly regards,

    Marga Lamers

  23. Posted January 15, 2011 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    Hi Naomi!

    Your show aired yesterday late night in the Netherlands. I accidently came across it and decided to keep on watching since I was hapily surprised to (finally) see a woman being the secret millionaire! I was touched, moved and inspired by your example of living your passion and empowering others to do the same! To me especially inspiring is to see what you have been able to create next to being a mom. Being a mom of 3 kids myself and the founder of my company, you definitely have encouraged me on my path! Thank you for that.

    warm regards from the Netherlands,

    Saskia Pennekamp

  24. Posted July 15, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Naomi, I didn’t come from a corporate back round, I’m from very different background but I still have the same ambitions. All I can say is that you inspire me, you will be seeing more of me. One of the changes I had to make in life was to stick with the winners and lose the losers. You’re a winner. Thanks.
    JosephDiego DiaMante

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