What’s happening Around Town? Some more awards, for starters

As we closed the chapter on 2016, the Record recently named the recipients of a series of year-end awards. While clearing out my files, I stumbled upon a couple of others I’d like to mention.

* The Thank Goodness It’s Finished Award goes to the elevator in the Fourth Street overpass. When the staircase opened in March 2015, the city worked at getting the elevator open in May of that year. Finally, after a series of delays, the elevator opened in March 2016 – much to the delight of folks trying to get to the park. Less than a week after opening, the elevator was closed for repairs after a call button on the lower level stopped working and maintenance workers had to fix a malfunctioning circuit board. We don’t want to jinx anything, but to the best of our knowledge it’s been working since then.

* Without being political, the Nice Guy Award goes to Mayor Jonathan Cote, who started 2016 with a couple of nice deeds that came to our attention – from sources other than the mayor. When a young family was trying to get from Westminster Pier Park to Columbia Street, Cote helped them haul a bike up the steps of the Fourth Street overpass, as the elevator was out of commission. In March, he received some schwag from organizers of the Hometown Hockey event at Queen’s Park Arena and gave the jacket, toque and scarf to parks and rec staff to pass along to Ken “Shaggy” Straw, a fixture at the local arenas year-round. Straw, who was “over the moon” about the mayor’s gift, is often spotted uptown wearing the warm winter coat.

* The Wow Award goes to local Realtor Darcy Schlechtleitner of Team ReThink who sold a three-bedroom home on St. Patrick Street for $1.9 million in March – $710,000 over the asking price. Even more impressive was Schlechtleitner’s presentation at the Nov. 5 PechaKucha event about clean and sober living.

* The Green and Gold Award (or the Better Late Than Never Award) goes to the City of New Westminster, which received LEED gold certification for the Queensborough Community Centre expansion in 2016 – three years after the project was complete. The community centre is the first civic building to achieve that status, which is one of the highest standards of building construction in Canada. The city attained the Gold Standard by including sustainable design features such as low-flow plumbing fixtures that have reduced water consumption by up to 30 per cent, a heat exchange system that draws heat from outside to heat the building’s interior at times when possible, sensors to dim lighting when rooms are unoccupied, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, increased use of natural light to reduce energy consumption, roof thermal insulation and exterior art features such as drought-resistant plantings that preclude the need for in-ground irrigation.

New West society spreads comfort on Christmas Eve

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The Camp Kerry Society reached out to those in need on Christmas Eve.

The New Westminster based charity provides grief and loss support and counselling and operates the Kerry’s (Thrift) Boutique in Sapperton. Operation Comfort provided outreach services to hundreds of people in need in New Westminster and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on Christmas Eve.

“In New Westminster, the Sapperton Plaza was alive with Christmas cheer on a cold and foggy night; passersby enjoyed free hot chocolate sponsored by Starbucks in Sapperton, homemade treats provided by Greens and Beans Deli, and a glowing campfire while joining in to sing some Christmas carols with our friends from Knox Church,” said Heather Mohan, the society’s executive director. “Bereaved families with children also received wrapped Christmas gifts, which were graciously provided by the Charlene Reaveley Society, as well as teddy-bears provided by B.C. Liquor Stores.”

Residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside also received donations of warm jackets, gloves and hats, with many of them sharing their stories of loss while being comforted by Camp Kerry staff and volunteers. While the society has provided Operation Comfort in the Downtown Eastside in past years, it decided to offer an event in Sapperton where it’s based.

Josh Dahling, the society’s director of operations, youth program coordinator and thrift store manager, started the program several years ago because his personal losses as a teenager led him into a life of addiction and poverty on the Downtown Eastside for several years.

New Westminster supports needy at Christmas

Royal City residents and businesses opened their hearts to the less fortunate during the holiday season.

As outlined in the Record’s recent Guide to Giving, many non-profits in New West provide programs and services that improve the lives of folks from all walks of life – year round and at Christmas. Here’s a sampling of some of the Christmas cheer they were able to spread this year as a result of the generosity of citizens and businesses:

* The Salvation Army helped about 120 families through this year’s Christmas Bureau, providing toys to children in need. Local businesses supported the program by hosting toy drives and food drives and donating toys and gifts.

* The Seniors Services Society distributed more than 250 gifts to local seniors, after residents and businesses selected the name and wish list of an isolated senior, shopped and returned the gift to participating businesses to be distributed in time for Christmas

* Family Services of Greater Vancouver matched 141 local families and seniors with community groups, providing gifts through the Caring Neighbours program.

* The Lower Mainland Purpose Society for Youth and Families provided hampers to 102 families.

Quayside Community Board helps charities

The Quayside Community Board may have postponed this year’s boardwalk festival and sale, but it didn’t leave charities out in the cold.

Along with providing entertainment, vendors and food for locals to enjoy, the annual sale has also raised funds for local charities. While this year’s sale didn’t take place, the board recently donated $1,000 to the Group of Five and $1,000 to the Lions Club of New Westminster.

“These charities depend on donations to make a lot of good happen in our city and beyond,” board president Vickie Turvey said in a press release. “We all know the good work of the Group of Five and their campaign to buy equipment for Royal Columbian Hospital, and the Lions Club, who use this specific donation to purchase Christmas gifts for the seniors at Buchanan Lodge.”

The Quayside Community Board unanimously agreed to donate the funds, a portion of the money set aside for the next year’s festival, to the two groups to help them achieve their goals.

“We are so thrilled that this donation will put smiles on the faces of those facing illness or seniors who would otherwise be ignored over the holiday season,” Turvey said. “Thanks to the work of these good people, Christmas will be just a little more joyous in New Westminster.”

To date, the Quayside Community Board has supported the community by donating more than $10,000 to several local not-for-profit groups.

Syrian students explore art

Massey Theatre is offering an arts program for Syrian children exploring arts and culture through the lens of moving to Canada.

The program, which got underway Dec. 13, will offer arts classes in visual arts, storytelling, dance and music twice a week throughout the winter. A celebration of Syrian Canadian culture will be held later in the spring at Massey Theatre for the whole community to get to know the new citizens. 

“It is so important that these children are provided an outlet to explore their past experiences as well as their dreams for the future,” said Jessica Schneider, executive director of the Massey Theatre Society. “I hope the program will serve to say ‘welcome to our cultural community’ to these families and to provide a vehicle to introduce the children to their peers through their creativity.”

The program is being delivered in partnership with Mosaic SWIS program and the school district. Syrian art instructor and teacher, Fadella Louis, a refugee who arrived in Canada nine months ago, will lead the classes for a mix of ages.

“Fadella is an ideal candidate for instructing this program. She has done this work in Homs (Syria) and Jordan in the past and I am pleased to provide her an opportunity to bring her skills to this program,” Schneider said. “It is an important opportunity to enable Fadella to do what she does best as she settles into her new Canadian life.”

Classes will take place Tuesdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Massey Theatre. Registration is free and food will be provided.

Anyone interested in volunteering with the program can contact Schneider at 604-517-5900 or jessica@masseytheatre.com. To register for the program contact Ghada or Shabnam at 604-307-3392 or gshawil@mosaicbc.org.

Donation helps kids

Paramedic students at the Justice Institute of B.C. are becoming better prepared for pediatric cases thanks to G&F Financial Group.

The financial institution’s $6,000 donation will help provide JIBC paramedicine learners with vital neo-natal training and much-needed specialized pediatric simulation equipment. The institute said that means that children across the province will have access to the best, most advanced training and equipment available.

“Children account for only a small percentage of pre-hospital emergencies but are a unique challenge to first responders,” said Kathy Harms, director for JIBC’s health sciences division. “Due to their anatomy and physiology, children deserve special consideration. The simulation equipment funded through this donations will help students gain an understanding of the special needs of pediatric and neo-natal patients who are critically ill or injured.”

According to the Justice Institute, caring for children requires highly qualified and trained personnel because pediatric emergencies are among the most trying and stressful for paramedics. While pediatric trauma and distress calls can be infrequent, JIBC notes it’s important to regularly refresh knowledge of the anatomy, professional competence and life-saving treatments.

Paramedic students recently performed a demonstration of the new pediatric kits to members of G&F Financial Group at the Justice Institute’s New Westminster campus.

“G&F Financial Group, celebrating our 75th anniversary this year, is delighted to collaborate with the Justice Institute of British Columbia,” said Louise Perry, manager of the New Westminster branch. “This donation of $6,000 will support pediatric simulation equipment for JIBC’s paramedicine programs, helping to create brighter futures for our province’s youngest and most vulnerable patients.”

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