SOUTH SURREY — Close to 100 restaurant workers braved the cold and slept on Surrey streets Monday night (Nov. 13) to raise money and awareness for homeless youth.
They had raised more than $105,000 as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, and counting, as funds were accepted until Thursday.
JRG co-founder Ryan Moreno said he’s proud that 97 employees took time away from family and friends to spend a cold night on the street to help the less fortunate.
“It’s almost a shame to say that we ‘did it,’ only because we all had time to prepare and make a list of thing we needed: thermal underwear, maybe gloves, double socks, you know what I mean? And after doing all of that and preparing it still is uncomfortable,” said Moreno. “It’s uncomfortable laying on pavement for seven hours.”
While some employees were set to sleep outside JRG’s Maple Ridge and Langley locations, all 97 people moved to outside the chain’s S+L Kitchen & Bar in South Surrey as of 9:30 p.m. due to wind blowing the teams’ tarps away.
“Despite heavy rain and wind that caused havoc across the Lower Mainland, not one of them quit,” noted Moreno.
The idea for the company’s fundraiser began after Moreno and other staff participated in a larger Vancouver event last year and got a glimpse into what a night is like for those who are less privileged.
JRG is the only company holding its own Sleep Out event in support of the downtown event held three days later (on Nov. 16), in which Moreno and others will be participating again for the “Executive Edition.”
“Happy to do that, so yeah, we’re doing it again,” Moreno laughed. “Twice in one week.”
As for money raised, Moreno said he is speechless.
“I think as of today it’s still climbing, we’re over $111,000 now,” he said Wednesday.
In future years, Moreno hopes to have hundreds of people participate in the company’s Sleep Out.
“Covenant House has a statistic that 700 to 1,000 youth are sleeping outside in Vancouver on any given night… so maybe next year, maybe the year after, we’re able to get that many people to participate in our event and just sort of show that solidarity, and I just imagine the impact of what that would look like,” he said.
The goal is not just to raise funds, Moreno added, but also raise awareness.
“Definitely the awareness is out there,” he said. “So, I think mission accomplished as far as that.”
Covenant House Vancouver says it provides shelter, food, clothing and counselling to 1,400 young people every year. Because Covenant House is 94 per cent privately funded, its Sleep Out events play a critical role in supporting its youth Crisis Program, which provides 35 beds for males and 24 beds for females.
“Our work, and the support of companies like the Joseph Richard Group, make a tremendous difference in the lives of street youth in BC,” said Krista Thompson, Covenant House Vancouver’s executive director in a release. “I want to thank everyone at JRG. We admire their commitment and creativity, and encourage their friends, families and patrons to support this worthwhile cause.”
To make a tax-deductible donation, visit any JRG location, or go to the JRG Sleep Out donation page (jrg.ca/sleepout). For every $50 donated, JRG is providing the donor with a $25 JRG gift card. For any donation of $1,000 or more, JRG will offer dinner for up to six guests, hosted by JRG Director of Culinary Operations Chef Matthew Stowe (Top Chef Canada winner) or JRG Corporate Chef David Jorge (MasterChef Canada winner).