Tom Syer: It’s good to be compassionate

Tom Syer: It’s good to be compassionate

After years of working in high stress government and business environments and starting a family, I felt a strong need to give back to my community. Fortunately a unique and wonderful opportunity to connect in a more grassroots, direct way was awaiting me.

A former Central City Foundation board member introduced me to CCF. I saw that the Foundation was visionary because of its mandate to take action as funders, investors, and builders which responds to the needs of the community it serves. After spending some time with our dynamic CEO and Chair, becoming a donor and a board member was one of the easier decisions I’ve ever had to make – I was in!

As Director of Government Affairs at Teck Resources – a proudly Canadian diversified natural resource company, I get to work with governments and Indigenous communities in BC, Alberta, Alaska, Washington State and Chile. We have over 30 agreements with Indigenous communities in whose traditional territories our operations are either located or adjacent. Working with communities and hearing local needs is paramount to our success.

I was attracted to CCF because there was such a strong connection between the foundation and under-supported groups living in the city. Spending time with CCF, I’ve been able to see that for the dollars the Foundation invests, the returns are really strong from a social perspective, especially for minority groups who are overrepresented in the inner city.

So far the greatest highlight for me has been the reopening of The Crossing – now called the Ashnola at the Crossing near Keremeos. After this youth residential treatment centre was closed for so long, receiving the email that BC youth were going to have access to long-term residential addiction treatment once again was a huge relief, particularly in light of recent challenges with the Fentanyl crisis.

I’m also a member of the grants committee and love being able to go out to the community partners and meet the people we impact and see what a difference CCF makes. It’s the opportunity to make those connections with communities that I find so rewarding.

The work is compelling because CCF has always focused on strengthening the quality of life and creating opportunities for people in the inner city. We are responsive to the needs of the many organizations doing good work and often fund projects that are small in nature, but that can make a major impact.

As a CCF donor and board member, I’m proud of the difference we make and the compassionate work we do. Becoming a donor gave me the opportunity to understand my neighbours better and to support them in living vibrant, healthy lives.

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