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My Experience with the Surrey Food Bank

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Two years ago, I found myself facing a new challenge. I was applying to Simon Fraser University’s Business program; to say that it was competitive to receive admission would have been an understatement. One thing I realized was that I was lacking extra curricular activities.

I have never been much of an athlete, so the obvious route to take was volunteering.  If I were to dedicate my time and energy, I wanted to put it towards a good cause that would  make a difference in peoples’ lives. The light bulb moment hit me and I decided the good cause would be the Surrey Food Bank.

Surrey Food Bank in Whalley

After filling out my application and going through the volunteer registration process, I worked my first shift and it was quite the eye-opening experience. I was stationed on the food hamper distribution table and I was astonished by the sheer number of people that were lined up. It looked as if I was staring at a line for an amusement park ride. After about an hour into the shift, I noticed a woman a few heads down. I noticed this particular woman out of the large crowd because she was quietly crying.

Surrey Food Bank stores

Surrey Food Bank stores

As the line kept moving, curiosity had me looking at her ever so often. I assumed she was upset because of the circumstances she must be facing. The line continued and I noticed she had a young girl accompanying her… her daughter I assumed. Finally, it was her turn and as she walked up to me, I realized she was not crying because she was sad or upset but she was crying because she was relieved. The look on her face was all that I needed to understand that I had stumbled on something much more than just extra curricular credit. It was a moment of clarity for me.

Surrey Food Bank

She was relieved. Relieved that her daughter would have dinner that night and they could momentarily forget their worries about where their next meal would come from. Words were not needed for me to know this.  All it took was that look on her face.

From that point on, the cause I was volunteering for meant even more to me. Even though we live in what is arguably the best place in the world, there are still many who struggle just to put food on the table. In one four-hour shift, more than a hundred families receive aid from the Food Bank. Many of these families have young children, even infants, that look to the Surrey Food Bank for support. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to make a genuine and positive difference in an astounding number of lives. After each and every shift, I walked away with a satisfied feeling. I had made a person’s life just a little bit easier that day (a little corny, but true).

Perhaps the most significant surprise for me, and I’m sure others as well, was that the people that receive aid from the Food Bank are no different from “ordinary people.” Many may think of a stereotypical scruffy “hobo” when they think Food Bank, but the truth of the matter is that the large majority of the customers are people who are facing hard times. I was surprised to see neighbours, old classmates and even co-workers come through for help. However, given the weak economy and unforgiving job market, it should not have been a surprise. We are facing tough times and in this holiday season, we need to keep our less fortunate community members in mind.

Surrey Food Bank volunteers make a difference

The Surrey Food Bank accumulates the majority of its annual inventory and donations in the holiday season. However, the Food Bank is not immune to hardships. Earlier in the year, the Surrey Food Bank ran out of food to distribute and had to resort to buying inventory to ensure those that need aid would not go without.

Please help those in need these holidays and consider helping your local Food Banks. Canned food, cash donations and your time are always in high demand and are greatly appreciated. If you are lucky, you may even experience a moment of clarity like I did.

We Live Here We Give Here CharityResidents in Surrey generously donate more than $100 million to charities each year. At a time when Surrey is undergoing rapid growth, our city is strengthened by the work of charities whose efforts are local.Three Surrey charities have come together in a unique partnership with a common goal: encourage residents to make donations that support their community. Join the Surrey Food Bank, the Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation and the Surrey Firefighters to promote local giving.
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Raised in Surrey and armed with a business degree from Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, Sukh is an aspiring entrepreneur. With a particular interest in technology startups, he connects our local businesses with the community.

Charity

The 50 Women of Options: Lori Quinn

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On February 17th, Options Community Services launched its first capital fundraising campaign to raise $1.5 million for affordable housing units. The money is currently being raised through a partnership with 50 local women, all of who have pledged to raise $25,000 each in support of this project. Surrey 604 is encouraging public support of this project by featuring each of the 50 Women of options. Today we introduce Lori Quinn, a community volunteer and philanthropist. 

Tell us your name, a bit about who you are and your background? 

My name is Lori Quinn and I am a retired Real Estate agent and busy mother of two. I am also a  philanthropist and national competitor of Arabian horses. I have always lived in the Lower Mainland, and specifically in Surrey since 2004.

What is your job title/what company or organization are you with?

Community volunteer and philanthropist.

What achievements in your life are you most proud of?

Of all my achievements through the years, my children are my proudest accomplishment. I admire the amazing individuals they have become.

Why did the Women of Options affordable housing campaign resonate with you? Why are you supporting this initiative?

Over the years, I have noticed the homeless population rising in Surrey, and yet there are no housing options. I believe affordable housing is really important in curbing this housing crisis and feel that the Options’ affordable housing project is a great way to give back.

 

Learn more about the Women of Options and make a donation to this important cause by visiting the website: Women Of Options

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The 50 Women of Options: Shelly Lynn Hughes

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On February 17th, Options Community Services launched its first capital fundraising campaign to raise $1.5 million for affordable housing units. The money is currently being raised through a partnership with 50 local women, all of who have pledged to raise $25,000 each in support of this project. Surrey 604 is encouraging public support of this project by featuring each of the 50 Women of options. Today we introduce Shelly Lynn Hughes, owner of Fresh Magazine and Project Her.

Tell us your name, a bit about who you are and your background? 

My name is Shelly Lynn Hughes, and I am a multi-business owner and serial entrepreneur. I have worked in publishing for over a decade and recently published my first book, Pursuit:365, which also resulted in my first best-seller status on Amazon Canada. 

What is your job title/what company or organization are you with? 

I am the President & CEO of Fresh Magazine & pursuit:365.

What achievements in your life are you most proud of? 

I find myself looking forward too often to reflect on what I’m proud of, but there are many moments I could look back on and think, “wow, I made that happen.” Mostly, I’m proud of being a mom. My work is all for my two girls, making them proud of me and feeling inspired to become their own people.

Why did the Women of Options affordable housing campaign resonate with you? Why are you supporting this initiative? 

Women have a unique relationship with the concept of community. We have been the cornerstones of communities throughout history, and the Women of Options affordable housing campaign embodies this. What these 49 other incredible women and I have in common is our compassion for our community and our desire to give back. When those of us who are fortunate enough to be in a position to help choose to rally, we can accomplish so much. This campaign is a rallying point and I’m so honoured to be even a small part of it.

What are your social media handles? 

Personal Instagram

Pursuit:365 Instagram

Fresh Magazine Instagram

Fresh Magazine Facebook

What is your web address?

www.freshmag.ca

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5 ways Affordable Housing will Benefit the City of Surrey

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Lack of affordable housing has quickly become one of the largest barriers in preventing homelessness in British Columbia. Having served the Lower Mainland for the past 50 years, Options Community Services and Habitat Housing Society are working to provide safe, affordable rental units for the local community

Options provides essential social services in Surrey, Delta, White Rock/South Surrey and Langley. Recently, the organization has partnered with 50 local women to help raise $1.5 million in funding for a new affordable housing building in Surrey, BC. The money raised in this partnership will go towards the 100-unit complex at 81st and King George Boulevard. Of these 100 units, 30 will be market rentals, while the remaining 70 will be well below market rates —designated as affordable housing, with rent starting as low as $375 per month. This building and the resources connected to it will make a monumental impact on the community. Here are 5 ways that this building will directly impact Surrey:

1. Additional Resources:

Not only will the affordable housing build feature 100 new rental units, but it will also feature several community services provided by Options. These services include Early Years, special needs services for children and mental health outreach. Having these programs available for tenants in the building will be a bonus for all.

2. Build Relationships:

Whether it’s a social worker or an elementary school teacher, having and maintaining long-lasting relationships is crucial to establishing roots in a community. These networks of support will help at-risk individuals and vulnerable people build stability in their lives and increase their sense of community. Knowing there are people in your neighbourhood that can help support you can be a relief for individuals who do not have friends, family, or any other source of support.

3. Accessibility:

Currently, the housing market is very hot and the number of buyers is outnumbering the available stock. This applies to both home buyers and renters who are looking for affordable places to stay. This building offers 100 brand-new units that are affordable for low-income families. These families otherwise might not have any other options to turn to and be forced to consider unsafe housing conditions. Priced at $375 monthly for a one-bedroom, these homes can change the lives of those who are in need.  

4. Increased Safety:

By having a door to lock and a place to call home, the safety and security of the community is enhanced. Far too often, vulnerable peoples are subjected to unsafe conditions or forced to make tough choices. Many of these individuals are women fleeing violence, refugees, displaced seniors, at-risk youth or persons living on a disability income. . Housing such as this will better protect these groups and ensure that they have access to safe, secure and affordable places to live.

5. Job Growth:

The success of our vulnerable community members is a success for us all. In communities with affordable housing, there is often a growth in job opportunities.  A study by the New York State Association for Affordable Housing found that affordable housing projects created nearly 330,000 jobs in New York between 2011 and 2015, with many of them being permanent or long-lasting contracts (source). From engineers to health care workers, the growth of a community can directly contribute to an increased demand for workers. 

The Women of Options campaign was created to support the build at King George and 81st. More information and a profile on each of the 50 Women of Options can be found at womenofoptions.ca. Community support is vital to ensure its success. To learn more about ways to help or donate, please visit womenofoptions.ca.

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The 50 Women of Options: Tammy Dyer

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On February 17th, Options Community Services launched its first capital fundraising campaign to raise $1.5 million for affordable housing units. The money is currently being raised through a partnership with 50 local women, all of who have pledged to raise $25,000 each in support of this project. Surrey 604 is encouraging public support of this project by featuring each of the 50 Women of options. Today we introduce Tammy Dyer, Deputy Executive Director, Options Community Services.

Tell us your name, a bit about who you are and your background? 

My name is Tammy Dyer and I have lived in Surrey my entire life. My background is as an Early Childhood Educator and I was fortunate to have been hired by Options when the Growing Together Young Parent Program began in 1986. Over my 35 year career at Options has provided me opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. I am proud to be a part of the Options Executive team. 

What is your job title/what company or organization are you with? 

I am the Deputy Executive Director, Options Community Services.

What achievements in your life are you most proud of? 

Professionally I am so proud to be a part of the Options family and all of the achievements we have made over the years. None of my achievements that I have made professionally are ever achieved alone but as a team. If I have to pick a few it would be the Growing Together Young Parent Program that grew and evolved under my leadership and the current 81st Ave housing project that the Women of Options campaign is supporting. Personally, my biggest and most important achievement is being a mom to two amazing young women who are intelligent, kind, independent and beautiful both inside and out.

Why did the Women of Options affordable housing campaign resonate with you? Why are you supporting this initiative? 

As a long-time Options employee who spent many years supporting young families, I knew that securing safe affordable housing was one of the most challenging hurdles that my clients faced. When I talked to other staff from other Options programs a lack of safe affordable housing was a barrier that their clients faced as well. This project has been a dream of mine for more than five years and I was honoured to be asked to be one of the 50 Women of Options affordable housing campaign.

What is your web address?

Options Community Services

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The 50 Women of Options: Isabelle Martinez Hayer

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On February 17th, Options Community Services launched its first capital fundraising campaign to raise $1.5 million for affordable housing units. The money is currently being raised through a partnership with 50 local women, all of who have pledged to raise $25,000 each in support of this project. Surrey 604 is encouraging public support of this project by featuring each of the 50 Women of options. Today we introduce Isabelle Martinez Hayer, Mortgage Broker with Dominion Lending Centres.

Tell us your name, a bit about who you are, and your background? 

My passion in life is service to the community. A daughter of immigrant parents who struggled to raise a family during difficult times, I raised children to be engaged in community service, to be proud of being Canadian, and be guided through the principles of honesty, integrity, goodwill, understanding, and service to others. In 1989 I joined Rotary International and was among the first women to be inducted into the Canadian arm of the organization. I also volunteered on many boards including the Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation, Surrey Board of Trade, the Bell Performing Arts Centre and TD Friends of the Environment.

What is your job title/what company or organization are you with? 

I am a Mortgage Broker with Dominion Lending Centres. I have also been involved with A Better Way and the Rotary Club of Surrey.

What achievements in your life are you most proud of? 

I am profoundly proud and appreciative, with the support of my spouse, to have had the privilege of raising 4 brilliant and accomplished children who have made positive impacts in their world and family. As a servant leader, I have also had many wonderful opportunities to engage and support meaningful organizations in our community, accomplishing great things to help uplift our society. Lastly, as a mature student, I have recently completed my Master’s degree at Royal Roads University and hope that this accomplishment will inspire others to reflect that you are never too old to learn and improve.

 Why did the Women of Options affordable housing campaign resonate with you? Why are you supporting this initiative? 

I support sustainable housing initiatives that help promote individual resiliency and I believe that through addressing housing insecurity, the community will benefit by uplifting residents, enabling them to tackle other important issues like raising their families, being more engaged in society and supporting the betterment of all.

What are your social media handles? 

Twitter

Facebook

What is your web address?

Surrey Rotary Club

 

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