Sarah Garnett is a corporate communications producer, married mother of two and the Founder of The Footpath Library. Her story is truly unique: one night in 2003, Sarah noticed a homeless man sitting in the gutter reading a novel under a streetlight. She started a conversation with him, and from there The Footpath Library was born.
The Footpath Library gives away around 2,600 free books a month to homeless people in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth, through mobile services and libraries in over 110 homeless hostels, refuges and community organisations. More than half of The Footpath Library clients are children. It is a library that is noisy, outdoors and requires no membership. You can take as many books as you like and they don't have to be returned. There is no other library like it anywhere in the world.
Sarah's story is about taking a risk on an opportunity that comes from the left of field, changing your life on a hunch and how one person can make a difference. The Footpath Library characters Sarah introduces in her presentation leave her audiences stunned, incredulous and moved to tears. You will meet people who are funny, intelligent and friendly, and who love to read.
Sarah has spoken to corporate groups and students, community organisations and retirees. All walk out of her presentation inspired by the difference the simple act of giving a book can make to someone who has nothing. Sarah is dedicated to promoting literacy and changing the attitudes we have towards homeless and disadvantaged people. She is an emotive, inspirational speaker who appeals to all ages and all walks of life.
Sarah is a finalist for the 2015 NSW Rotary's Inspirational Women’s Award. She was also a 2013 NSW Australian of the Year Local Hero finalist, a 2012 National Homelessness Services Achievement Awards finalist and a 2010-2013 Australia Day Ambassador. In 2013, she received the Courage to Care Local Hero Award. Her story has featured on Channel 7 News and Sunrise, as well as numerous radio interviews and press coverage.
Sarah is currently studying a BA majoring in Anthropology at Macquarie University.
Client Comments for Sarah Garnett
Sarah Garnett travels from New South Wales Australia
- Sarah is a true perfectionist and her preparation and attention to detail allowed us all to enjoy her presentation to the max. What an inspiration. One person can make a difference.
Hume Region Business Managers' Association
- Sarah presented at the Toyota Womens Forum late in 2009. Her story around the Footpath Library, it's origins and growth, made all realise that it doesn't really take much to make a difference to someone who isn't as fortunate as yourself. The story of the Footpath Library and Sarah is special in that it isn't a story of lots of money or of lots of power. It is a story of how much can be achieved by the desire to make a small difference through giving of yourself. Sarah's ability to relate to homeless and disadvantaged people and to recognise and respect them as part of the makeup of society is enlightening for us all.
Toyota Institute Australia
- Sarah's presentation to our 300 strong crowd was engaging and all present listened intently as Sarah very confidently and with passion told her story. Sarah was animated, enthusiastic and displayed a gentleness that endeared us all to her.
Shoalhaven City Council
- Sarah, your words about what had inspired you to set up the Footpath Library, how you went about it and how it impacted the lives of the homeless left our staff and guests visibly moved and certainly motivated many of our staff to support the library by donating Clayton Utz books as well as their time to work as volunteers. Your message was clearly delivered, well thought through, succinct and, most importantly, very obviously heartfelt and sincere. It was your presentation that made the footpath library one of the most popular charities amongst the staff of Clayton Utz.
- We all thought Sarah was terrific.
Crosbie Wealth Management
"Nina, you are fabulous and I couldn't have asked for a more helpful contact."
NSW Rural Fire Service - Region West
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