New Langley mayor’s gala raises half million for hospital

A $500,000 contribution to the new emergency ward and MRI suite was announced Saturday night.

A half million dollars is a “huge” infusion towards the new emergency ward and MRI suite at Langley Memorial Hospital, and that financial commitment was announced Saturday night – during the new mayor’s gala.

The hospital project, announced earlier this year, will cost $30.6 million. Of that, the hospital foundation must raise $15 million. Saturday’s contribution pushes them near the $10-million mark in the fundraising efforts, with the MRI suite expected to be in place by fall of 2019, and the new ER scheduled to open in late 2020.

VIDEO: Langley’s hospital auxiliary pinches pennies to kick in $1.5 million for ER expansion

A half million dollars is a “huge” infusion towards the new emergency ward and MRI suite at Langley Memorial Hospital, and that financial commitment was announced Saturday night – during the new mayor’s gala.

The hospital project, announced earlier this year, will cost $30.6 million. Of that, the hospital foundation must raise $15 million. Saturday’s contribution pushes them near the $10-million mark in the fundraising efforts, with the MRI suite expected to be in place by fall of 2019, and the new ER scheduled to open in late 2020.

The $500,000 contribution was announced by Township Mayor Jack Froese during the inaugural Mayor’s Charitable Gala, before a sold-out crowd of more than 530 people.

This was a new community fundraising event co-hosted by Township of Langley Firefighters’ Charitable Society (TLFCS), the firefighter’s union IAFF Local 4550, and the mayor’s office.

The goal for the gala was to raise a million, Froese explained to the Langley Advance. “The numbers aren’t out yet, but I think we came very close.”

“This is a fantastic event,” he said the night of the gala.

“The first annual Mayor’s Charitable Gala was successful way beyond our expectations,” Froese elaborated. “We are truly blessed to be part of such a generous community who give so much… The Township of Langley is a community that truly cares. It is a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family because it is full of people who want to make a difference, are committed to making life better for others, and want to see our community thrive.”

The event was a farm-to-table fall festival, included a gourmet dinner, music by country stars Chad Brownlee and Shawn Austin, and a series of “fun” fundraising initiatives including a live auction that saw a fire truck full of wine delivered to the recipient’s home.

The gala was held at Darvonda Nurseries in Milner, which offered guests a sneak peek at the nursery’s new Harvest Glow displays. All the lights and decorations provided a “stunning” backdrop for the inaugural mayor’s gala, Froese noted. (Darvonda’s new fall show kicks off this Thursday, and is a take off from last year’s popular Glow Christmas event – see related story on page A16).

Partnering for a cause

The mayor’s gala brought together the TLFCS and the mayor’s office to raise money for what they deem to be worthy causes. Among those causes, the Langley Memorial Hospital was earmarked to receive funds this year.

Included in the donations collected at the gala, Froese said one contribution of $500,000 from Ann Blaauw came in earmarked specifically for the hospital, and a further $250,000 from Blaauw was donated for use by the TLFCS for Langley projects.

“So, we were successful in raising half a million for the hospital’s new emergency department and MRI suite,” he elaborated, noting the firefighter charities board will meet to discuss how much additional can be donated to the cause once everything is accounted for.

“Our firefighters are huge contributors to this community. Not only do they play a vital role in keeping our people and property safe, they are personally dedicated to giving back to others,” Froese added.

“Their efforts have a huge impact and we were thrilled when they suggested partnering for this fundraising gala. We have seen this type of event work for neighbouring municipalities, and know the entire community will benefit from the funds raised through the gen erosity of the society, and everyone who gets involved.”

According to hospital foundation’s Terra Scheer, the Langley firefighters have a long history of supporting the hospital.

“They’ve made regular donations over the past five years, including gifts to the mental health therapy program and last year a $10,000 gift towards pediatric equipment, such as 11 temporal thermometers and a mobile diagnostic unit used by our physicians and surgeons,” Scheer elaborated.

“These devices help caregivers quickly get the test results they need, while helping ensure the hospital experience is less invasive and intimidating for our little ones.”

The partnership between the mayor’s office and the firefighters to host Saturday’s gala “worked great and the community came out to support it,” the mayor said.

“On duty or off, our firefighters are committed to serving the community where they live and work,” said Township of Langley Firefighters IAFF president Andy Hewitson. “With the Mayor’s Charitable Gala, we wanted to take that spirit of giving to a new level, to raise funds that will really make a difference, and raise the profile of our charitable society.”

A lot of “hard work” went into making this event a success and it paid off with an “incredible evening that will have a long-lasting impact for residents of the Township,” Hewitson said.

“We couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

The TLFCS collects and contributes more than $75,000 annually to its registered charitable partners and many local initiatives, including the BC Professional Firefighters’ Burn Fund, Canadian Cancer Society, Basics for Babies, and Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

The TLFCS also initiated a healthy snack program in partnership with the Langley School District Foundation, which is currently offered in 10 local schools with the goal to reach every school in the district.

Ahead of the event, firefighter Jhim Burwell said: “The Mayor’s Charitable Gala is a great example of the cycle that is created… The TLFCS benefits from the generosity of its supporters, the funds generated by the gala will help with LMH’s emergency department, and the hospital, in turn, benefits the community and inspires their generosity.”

When the hospital fundraising campaign kicked off in May, Maria and Ron Martini were among the first to donate, contributing $5 million to the project. The Martini family donation was accompanied a “sizable” donation from Allan Skidmore and his family.

This summer, the Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary also stepped up. In July, they announced a $1.5-million contribution to the campaign, and other donations are coming in.

READ RELATED: Langley’s hospital auxiliary pinches pennies to kick in $1.5 million for ER

expansion

“The Mayor’s Charitable Gala has benefitted some exceptional causes, and we encourage people to keep giving what they can throughout the year to support these charities, which are keeping our community healthy, strong, and thriving,” Froese concluded.

 

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