Support for the Ridge Meadows Youth Wellness Centre is gaining momentum.
“Over the years, the reputation of the gala has grown for its themes and has attracted inspirational speakers like Anand Kumar of Super 30 fame from India,” said Dr. Biju Mathew, president of Ridge Meadows South Asian Cultural Society.
This year the event attracted Minister of Defense Harjit Sajjan, who spoke on the needs of promoting youth mental health.
“Our themes have been thought provoking and we have fearlessly picked up issues that fall between the cracks and those who are marginalized. Certainly, they are not the usual topics for a glitzy gala,” Mathew said.
In the past, the society has supported Cythera House and battered women matters, addictions while promoting Alouette Addiction services and advocating for a nurse practitioner for the homeless locally.
“Last year, our key note theme was on new immigrants and refugees. Contrary to the popular belief, our choices were well appreciated by the knowledgeable audience and more importantly a selling point,” Mathew said.
This year the society turned its attention to the mental health needs of approximately 20,000 youth in the community.
“Currently, the wait times for accessing a child specialist is anywhere between six months to a year. This is clearly not acceptable,” Mathew said.
“Therefore, we joined hands with Ridge Meadows division of family practice, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community services and other stake holders to raise funds for the local youth wellness centre, which has already opened its doors for the needy at the Greg Moore centre. The support for this cause was humbling and the gala, by all accounts, a stunning success.”
The gala raised $13,000 for the youth wellness centre.
“In the past, we have raised over $80,000 for the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation. Other beneficiaries include hospice, Asante Centre, Cythera House and the ACT,” Mathew added.
Another fundraiser for the youth wellness centre is being planned, called “Pork on Your Fork.”
It is scheduled for March 31 at Maple Ridge secondary, 6 p.m.
It will feature a barnyard theme and live entertainment. A ”Passport to Barnyard Games” will be sold as an additional fundraising activity and a dessert auction of local culinary experts will complete the dinner.
Tickets are $100 and people will come away from a fun evening with a greater understanding of the challenges that youth face dealing with mental health and addiction, as well as an understanding of the uniqueness and effectiveness of the youth wellness centre, said organizer Cheryl Ashlie, co-constituency assistant to local MLA Doug Bing.
“We are actively working to have all costs associated with the dinner sponsored, so every dollar raised will go directly to the youth wellness centre. Our target is $12,000 dollars.”
Briana Arsenault, a local 4H member, raised the grand-prize-winning piglet at this past summer’s PNE. It was auctioned off afterwards and the purchasers donated it back to our community.
“This generous donation has enabled us to host the Pork on Your Fork dinner event,” Ashlie added.
Arsenault and the donors will join Chef Trevor Randle and his culinary students at MRSS and support staff, all of whom are donating their time and skills for the event.