MEANINGFUL WORK: Founded in 1992, Mission Possible has been helping individuals in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside challenged by poverty, homelessness, addiction and other barriers get back on their feet.
Through its employment readiness and social enterprise programs, the non-profit has been helping people experience a sense of dignity and purpose through meaningful work. To provide more individuals the opportunity for purposeful employment, the registered charity recently held its annual Mission Possible holiday hootenanny.
This year’s gala theme was Old Hollywood, and many glammed it up for the red-carpet paparazzi, countless photos and night of philanthropy.
Staged at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel Vancouver, some 350 guests came out to hear inspiring stories of transformation, bid on unique live and silent auction items, purchase Christmas crackers filled with prizes and enjoy a delicious three-course dinner, all while celebrating the amazing achievements of program participants, both past and present.
Prior to the night of giving, party guests raised a glass to Mission Possible’s growing efforts to create jobs that lead to lasting change. From MP Maintenance, a landscape and maintenance service, to MP Neighbours, an innovative program for Downtown Eastside residents to be trained as security personnel to care for their neighbourhood, the firm’s social enterprises pave the way for more people to move into employment.
Attendees also toasted six individuals, recipients of the humanitarian agency’s Momentum Awards that are given to alumni who have demonstrated courage, determination and faith in overcoming great challenges and adversity, emerging from life’s challenges with strength and stability. Feted this year were John Barbour, Thomas Gibbons, Catherine Shimizu, Alexandre Nadon, Lorenzo Watters and Michael Wielgosh.
Sunrise Soya Foods owners Peter and Shirley Joe, a longtime champion, benefactor and employer of MP grads, were recipients of the Impact Business Partner of the Year Award. The awards were presented by event emcee Drew Savage from Virgin Radio and Mission Possible CEO Matt Smedley.
The six stories of success inspired everyone in the room to give. From a silent and live auction that included a Yukon adventure and luxury Okanagan escape to a spirited paddle raise, there were plenty of opportunities to support. By evening’s end, organizers were confident of meeting and or exceeding last year’s $190,000 fundraising standard to support Mission Possible’s ever-expanding employment efforts.
“This year we are celebrating 10 years of social enterprise impact and success in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside community,” said Smedley.
“Thanks to the growing support and demand of our services, we are moving into a new building in the spring of 2020, preparing for the launch of a women’s track in our employment readiness program and creating a human resources guidebook for the growing employment partners wanting to hire our graduates.”
WAMS power lunch
KICKING MS: Soccer phenom Christine Sinclair was the special guest at the annual Women Against Multiple Sclerosis (WAMS) luncheon. The three-time Olympian and Canadian women’s national soccer team captain joined some 350 guests for the power lunch held at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.
Created five years ago, the event brings together a powerful network of businesswomen from all sectors to help build awareness and raise critical research funds to end MS.
Canada reportedly has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, and women get MS three times more often than men.
It’s a cause close to Sinclair’s heart, as her mother Sandi was diagnosed with MS more than 30 years ago. In honour of her mother and the other 77,000 Canadians living with MS, Sinclair has been an outspoken MS champion rallying Canadians to come together to help find a way to beat the neurological disease.
“When you are a kid, your parents are indestructible, and that was what my mom was to me. Indestructible,” said Sinclair. “But as years went by, I watched MS chip away at aspects of her life, and her fight against the chronic disease became more strenuous.”
Seeing what her mom went through, Sinclair was inspired to get involved with the MS Society of Canada and related fundraising efforts. Since launching in Vancouver in 2015, the WAMS luncheon has raised over $500,000 for a new generation of ground-breaking Canadian researchers working to find a cure for multiple sclerosis. Sinclair and others helped add another $179,000 to its tally following the afternoon of networking, storytelling and fundraising.
JINGLE BELLS: The Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle is one of the city’s most recognizable holiday symbols, and The Hope in the City Breakfast kicked off the social service agency’s annual holiday campaign.
For the 18th consecutive year, the city’s business community came together in the early hours of the morning to ring in the season, raise funds and celebrate the work of the Salvation Army.
Lt. Colonel Jamie Braund, B.C. Divisional Commander, Canada Wide Publishing CEO Peter Legge and Kingswood Capital Corp. president Joe Segal fronted the Scotiabank-sponsored morning luau.
Set against the backdrop of the city’s convention centre, the event featured a hearty breakfast, keynote address by Dragons’ Den personality and entrepreneur Arlene Dickinson plus an inspired story of triumph and perseverance from Iain and Darcy Anderson, recipients of the Salvation Army’s Hero of Hope Award.
While struggling with their own personal demons, the Andersons found support and refuge at the Salvation Army. They also found employment and each other at the firm while helping others. Their story of hope and achievement would compel attendees to open their hearts and their wallets. Before the gathering’s 9 a.m. conclusion, the seasonal soiree was reportedly on track to raise $400,000.
Net proceeds will support some 50 ministries across the province feed, clothe and shelter B.C.’s most vulnerable. Last year, an estimated 1.7 million people were helped by the Salvation Army, thanks to the generosity of British Columbians.
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