NICOLA WEALTH HAS ALWAYS STRIVED to be an active member of our communities, both locally and internationally — not only as a company but also in how we facilitate our staff and clients’ philanthropic goals. This newsletter is intended to inspire the culture of giving through sharing client stories and highlighting charities and causes. Collectively, we maximize the impact of our individual efforts and initiate change.
Our clients are as PASSIONATE about MAKING CHANGE as we are. Meet one of our clients and hear their story.
Pat Alexander is an Entrepreneur and Business owner in Vancouver BC. In 2010, three days before Christmas he was diagnosed with a rare variant of multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. Since late 2011 he has been a volunteer with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC), helping others navigate this scary diagnosis. This year he has been named the Honoured Hero for the 2020 Light the Night Walk: the annual fund-raising effort for the LLSC. We interview Pat on his incredible story and the time he spends with both the LLSC and the local office of the John Howard Society.
How did you get involved with the LLSC?
In 2011 when I was going through Chemo my son Kris gave me red bracelet that said “relentless” and informed me about the LLSC organization. So, that October our family went to our first Light the Night event and were overwhelmed with the emotion we were a part of. I learned more about the LLSC, started to reach out for more information, and started going to information events. I got to know the staff and the other cancer patients that regularly attended these informative gatherings.
I have a rather rare form of Cancer, and was asked if I would be willing to be on the list of survivors who would be a contact for people who are newly diagnosed, to answer questions, provide support and offer hope. I could not say no.
What is it like to talk to those who have been newly diagnosed?
Sometimes there is real fear of what lies ahead for them, fear of the unknown. Many of the calls I would make were with people living in smaller communities, across Canada and sometimes even in the US. This is partly because of the variant of the blood cancer that I have, and the desire of the LLSC to match patients and survivors as closely as possible.
Just like when I was first diagnosed, the thing most people do after they are told about their situation by a doctor, is go to the internet. Some of that information is suspect and frightening, so to speak to someone who can honestly tell them their story, what their treatment was like, and then answer some questions makes a big difference. A problem shared is a problem halved.
How has this whole journey changed your outlook on life?
I came to realize decades ago, because of some other issues I’ve had to deal with, that there are many things in this life you cannot control. I realized that again when I was diagnosed. I can do what I’m told, I can follow the doctors’ orders, diet, exercise etc.; but I can’t control whether the drugs will be effective for me. I’m okay with that…it’s beyond my ability to control.
What’s transpired these last few years has been a perfect example of this fact of life, and with the benefit of hindsight, I’ve learned a valuable life lesson: often it is the things that at first seem to be the most devastating, either physically or emotionally, that have turned out to be the best things that have ever happened to me. On one level I’m grateful I have Cancer because what it did for me was it brought the reality of my own mortality right in front of my face, and that changes one’s perspective. It really allowed me to realize the things that were important to me, and the things that were not.
I was 58 when I was first diagnosed. At that time, I had a small construction business which I’d had for over 20 years. When I was 55, I had concluded that I wanted to back away from the stress of running a service business but could not seem to make this happen. With diagnosis I initially thought that I could tough it out and keep running the business, but I soon realized after a month of Chemo that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t think straight, and I couldn’t make it into the office physically. Luckily my son Kris was working for me, and although he wasn’t ready at 23, he had to take over for me. Once I was in remission, he had been running the business for about 8 months and I realized he had things under control. So, I gradually stepped away from the business, just like I had been wanting to do but couldn’t make happen. Amazing how well life can work out when I’m not in control! My daughter Katie now works there too, and the business has been taken to a new level. I have far more time to enjoy life with my wife Kathy and our new granddaughter Lottie.
This is a special year for me with the LLSC. With COVID-19, charities are challenged to raise the money they need to operate and provide their special programs. I am honoured to be the spokesperson for Light the Night in Vancouver and do what I can to raise funds to help others.
Other than the LLSC are there any other charities that you are involved in?
I’m very involved with the local office of the John Howard Society (JHSP). I’m on their board and have been for a number of years, spending several rewarding hours a week with them. The JHSP works primarily with people who face barriers to getting by in our society. These may be people involved with criminal justice who we house in Community Residential Facilities upon their release from prison; or people in our communities who struggle due to mental, physical and addiction issues. We have over 250 staff and provide over 25 different assistance programs. Whenever I interact with the front-line staff, I am amazed. I couldn’t do what they do, with their talents and their patience in dealing with individuals who really struggle to get by day to day.
That’s wonderful, how did you originally get involved with the John Howard Society?
Through our business. They wanted to replace the windows in one of their buildings, and our business replaces windows. While we were doing that, I met some of their clients and realized these were people I could relate too. People who have struggled, and in my history, I have struggled, ending up living for a time in a halfway house in 1980. I believe this experience turned my life in the right direction.
After that first window project our business did more jobs for the JHSP, and some years ago I was asked if I would consider joining their Board to add someone with business experience. It has been very rewarding work, and I feel blessed to be able to play a small part in helping others less fortunate.
How has Nicola Wealth Supported you in your Philanthropic efforts?
After starting my Chemo treatment, I realized that I needed professional managers to look after our retirement savings. With Nicola Wealth I haven’t had to worry about my finances, and this has also given me the income to be more Philanthropic. I can enjoy my retirement and have peace of mind plus free time that I now get to spend with the John Howard Society and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
If you would like to support Pat’s team in the upcoming Light the Night Walk in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada visit his fundraising page or click on the button below.
BC Family Hearing Resource Society
Luca is an amazing, smart, funny, caring little boy. When he was born, the thought of him being hard-of-hearing never even crossed his parent’s minds. But then, as a tiny newborn he failed a test to check his hearing. Luca’s parents were sent home and told not to worry as it was most likely fluid in his ears sustained during birth. Two weeks later he was tested once more and again he failed.
“We took our little boy home and the emotions that came over me were intense. I went into the appointment in complete denial, so when the audiologist said that he had hearing loss, I was completely devastated. My first question to our audiologist was “will he hear music?” says Luca’s mom. “We went home from the appointment and I just didn’t know how to feel or what to say to the rest of our family.”
Then they were contacted by the BC Family Hearing Resource Society (BCFHRS). That’s when they learned that their family was not the only one going through this and that there was a place where their beautiful baby boy could fit in.
“It has taken a long time, but now I am happy to talk to people about Luca’s hearing loss. We are so thankful to BCFHRS. Going there has not only taught Luca to communicate with the world and to interact with his deaf & hard-of-hearing peers but it has allowed him to become an independent little boy.” Luca’s mother continues. “Watching him become such a strong little human has made us stronger as parents and as a family.”
BC Family Hearing Resource Society is the largest not-for-profit organization in British Columbia serving children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, aged birth to school-entry. For 37 years, they have been providing intervention, support, education, sign language instruction and peer-to-peer mentoring to families throughout the province.
Some information around childhood hearing loss in British Columbia:
- Approximately 100 babies are born deaf or hard-of-hearing in British Columbia each year
- Last fiscal year, BCFHRS served 406 families in 59 communities around the province
- The number of BCFHRS clients has increased by 49% in the last five years
- BCFHRS has three physical centres in Surrey, Victoria & Vancouver
- For families not living in proximity to these centres, we provide outreach services through telepractice and visits to their communities
- BCFHRS is the only specialized agency in BC to offer a wide variety of options in communication methods, including spoken language and American Sign Language (ASL)
Luca’s story is just one of the many, many stories of success and joy that we have heard over the past 37 years. We are excited to continue serving families, like Luca’s, for many more years to come.
For more information please visit them online at bcfamilyhearing.com or click on the button below.
Nicola Wealth Gives Back Update
Nicola Wealth values the role companies play in making the world a better place. The Nicola Wealth Gives Back Charitable Committee is a board of Nicola Wealth staff, management, and spouses committed to developing and fostering a culture of giving. The Committee acts as facilitators for employees and partners to succeed with their charitable goals thereby giving back to the world in meaningful ways.
Fall 2020 Update
The Nicola Wealth Gives Back Committee has had a big year and is excited to give an update.
With COVID-19 many of the charities we support were struggling to raise funds as key fundraising events had to be cancelled and services had to be modified. So the Charitable Committee provided all committed donations up front in Q1 2020.
We also wanted to highlight the charities and how they have had to modify their services, as well as bring up their fundraising needs to our community. So we sent a brief questionnaire to all the charities we support and very week have featured a different charity alongside their questionnaire. All the Charity x COVID-19 features can be found here.
In this time of need we also wanted to support the charities that the Nicola Wealth staff cared about, so we put out a contest where staff could name the charities they had supported during the COVID-19 pandemic. The instruction was that out of everyone that entered three people would be chosen at random to receive a gift card. We then surprised staff by giving a donation to every charity that was mentioned in the contest.
In August we hosted a Cassie and Friends virtual run, where staff could run a 5k in support of Cassie and Friends. We had about 20 staff come out to Jericho Beach in Vancouver to safely run a 5k. In true Cassie and Friends style, Champagne and snacks were provided for after the run.
For Thanksgiving the Charity Committee also donated $100,000 to Food Banks across Canada to give back to those who need it most.