The Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society is once again donating $36,000 to the YMCA’s Youth Mindfulness program over a three-year period. (Submitted photo: Dylan Van Rooyen)

The Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society is once again donating $36,000 to the YMCA’s Youth Mindfulness program over a three-year period. (Submitted photo: Dylan Van Rooyen)

Surrey firefighters society donates to youth mental health program, with help of vehicle raffle

Surrey Honda has donated a 2020 CRV to the charitable society

The Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society is once again donating $36,000 to the YMCA’s Youth Mindfulness program over a three-year period.

Last May, the charitable society completed its initial three-year commitment of $12,000 a year to the Youth Mindfulness program, said society board director Dylan Van Rooyen.

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Van Rooyen said the society hoped to be able to make another $36,000-donation over three years, when they were approached by Surrey Honda, who donated a 2020 Honda CRV for a raffle, with the goal of raising $100,000 through $20-tickets.

The partial funding for the Youth Mindfulness program will come from those ticket sales, Van Rooyen said.

“We’ve actually sold 4,000 of the 5,000 tickets,” he said Thursday (May 8), adding that the society is “quite confident” it well sell out of tickets by the end of May, a whole month before the July 1 draw.

“Despite everything, we’re actually really impressed and I guess the mental health initiatives thing couldn’t be at a more important time right now with the work, the stress, the anxiety. There has been a bit of a focus on the importance of mental health initiatives which I think actually has helped our ticket sales here,” said Van Rooyen, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The price point being $20, even though it’s not an easy time to ask people to contribute to a charitable initiative right now, $20 for most of us is still doable.”

Tickets for the raffle can be purchased online at surreyhonda.com/raffle-honda.

As for the Youth Mindfulness program, Van Rooyen said the YMCA introduced the society to the program when it was first started.

According to the YMCA of Greater Vancouver, the program is for people aged 18 to 30, “who are experiencing symptoms of anxiety to learn and practice evidence-based strategies to increase coping.”

“Mental health is very important to us to all of us,” he explained, “but firefighters in specific, we’ve had direct impact here in Surrey, where we’ve had members impacted by different mental health challenges. Over the last five, six years, there’s been some heightened awareness for first responders in general to the importance of focusing on mental health initiatives for ourself, but also for everybody.

“We see that a lot of the calls we respond to, we actually notice that there’s a mental health aspect to many of these calls.”

Meantime, Van Rooyen said the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the charitable society’s fundraising efforts for the upcoming year.

“Our worst-case budget shows a decrease in funds raise by $250,000, which is 25 per cent,” he said. “The reason being, we are very event based, we don’t have any paid fundraisers on our team. Our strength is hosting an event that people want to come to where we can get them to part with the money and then donate it to a good cause.”

People can donate to the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society through its website, surreyfirefighters.com/charitablesociety.



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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