Just before the pandemic lockdown last March, the Coquitlam-based Share Family and Community Services held one of the last major events in the Tri-Cities.
And its 15th annual Imagine gala drew enough funds to help the organization transition to virtual support services to continue to reach its 53,000 clients.
A year later, with physical restrictions still in place, Share will also move to an online platform for its signature fundraiser — aptly titled ReImagine — to further its work.
The need is even greater in 2021, said Share CEO Claire MacLean. “The impact of the pandemic has been quite devastating and we really rely on this event especially for programs and services that don’t get the traditional government funding.”
Among its most-critical programs are trauma support for children from refugee families, assistance for independent seniors and advocacy services for renters being illegally evicted from their homes.
The pandemic, MacLean said, “doesn’t end with the vaccine for us. It will mark an end for the world but folks who were already struggling before it began, their mental health and financial impacts aren’t going to go away overnight.”
Proceeds from ReImagine will also help fill the Share food bank shelves in Port Moody as well as assist youth battling addiction, provide counselling for kids struggling with school bullying, offer support to children with developmental delays and disabilities and aid speech, physical and occupational therapists for children in need.
On March 6, the society hopes the community will rally around its cause.
Emceed by Port Coquitlam Coun. Steve Darling and Johnny DeFazio, formerly with Hard Rock Casino Vancouver, the event will feature entertainment and good eats.
The band Side One will whip up the energy with its dance tunes while ticket holders feast on a four-course meal, which will be available for contactless pick-up from a designated location on Westwood Plateau, earlier in the day.
The four restaurants, which are also taking part in the food competition, will serve a caprese salad (from Mr. Mike’s); a pasta dish (from The Golden Boot); ratatouille and/or chuck steak (from Crisp Cuisine); and a dessert cake pop from Cassandra Cake Co.
As in past years, the winner of the best plate will be judged by the Tri-Cities’ mayors; participants will also be able to cast their vote for their favourite culinary dish.
Meanwhile, for residents who can’t make the virtual event but still want to support Share, the society will make its online auction, and 50/50 and raffle draws live later this month.
For the raffle, the prizes are a $2,000 shopping spree at Coquitlam Centre, a stay-and-play package at Predator Ridge and a $250 My Treat Visa card from Vancit (plus a $250 donation to the Share food bank, made in the winner's name, with a tax receipt provided for the donation).
With the a year passed since the last in-person Imagine gala, “it feels very emotional and it’s a time to reflect on the entire year that’s gone by,” MacLean said, “but our team has put together a great night and we’ve tried to keep everything fun and special with this new event.”
• Sponsored in part by the Tri-City News, ReImagine is on March 6, with tickets at $85 via sharesociety.ca/imagine.