Given the war in Ukraine, and the “annihilation” of the Ukrainian people – including many of her own relatives – Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek debated for some time about whether she should hold a gala this past weekend.
But ultimately, she said it “must” be done for the sake of the future leaders – youth.
“My family history is currently being destroyed by a dictator in Ukraine,” she told a crowd of about 150 people who gathered in the Coast Hotel ballroom Saturday night to raise money for the new Langley Foundry, currently under construction.
It’s one centralized mental health and wellness location where Langley youth, ages 12 through 24, can go for help. The facility is nearing completion on Eastleigh Crescent in Langley City, but will serve Township residents, as well.
“I’d like to take a moment to pay respect to all the people who have lost their lives fighting for democracy in Ukraine. Fighting for us,” she said, observing a moment of silence.
During all the global upheaval, she and her husband, Rob, contemplated not hosting the gala. Plans for a 2021 gala had to be quashed due to COVID and pandemic restrictions.
“It was a hard decision… but I know we must do it so we can build and keep Foundry going, to help foster and support our children,” van den Broek said.
“We now know that child trauma affects most of our children. We now know if we have the proper tools to address this – which means Foundry – we’ll nurture our children into better future leaders, so this won’t happen again,” she elaborated.
Her inaugural winter wonderland-themed fundraiser in January 2020 raised about $30,000 for women’s health care initiatives at Langley Memorial Hospital. This time, all proceeds (the amount raised is still to be determined) are going towards the new Foundry.
“We had a great time raising lots of money and the youth got to perform for an audience… win/win for everyone,” van den Broek told the Langley Advance Times.
The mayor expressed gratitude to everyone involved, noting there were at least 150 sponsors, donors, and volunteers who helped make the fundraiser possible.
She specifically turned a spotlight on Jessica Bailey, a youth who emceed the event, and in doing so shared her story about why Foundry was so important to her. The evening also featured a variety of other youth speaking and demonstrating their musical talents.
”Ashley Hogg, Connor Hogg, and Jaci McPhee entertained us with a variety of show tunes, getting the crowd clapping. Brooklyn Wood, a 17-year-old composer and violinist who attends the Langley Community Music School, brought the crowd to tears as she played a classical piece during dinner, ending with a standing ovation,” van den Broek recounted.
“We believe in supporting our community especially our youth, our future leaders. We should be doing everything we can to make sure youth know we’re listening to them. Also, giving them opportunities to be themselves and being that lifeline or mentor when it’s needed,” she concluded.
She hoped to have a tally of how much was raised for Foundry in the coming days.
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