On a long table near the kitchen — with a tarp underneath — dozens of painted river rocks dry with designs of bumblebees and ladybugs.
They were decorated last Friday, during spring break, by the children of Dan and Charlene Reaveley — Kaeden, Rebecca, Alicia and Tristan — and their cousins and future step-sibling for next week’s Fire & Ice gala, a fundraiser hosted by the Charlene Reaveley Children’s Charity to help grieving kids around B.C.
The gala is held each year around the birthday of Charlene Reaveley, a Coquitlam woman who, along with Lorraine Cruz, was killed by a drunk driver in 2011 at the corner of Lougheed Highway and Pitt River Road.
The painted rocks are the Reaveley children’s contribution to the society’s flagship event, which is closed to minors, to help raise money for and awareness of a cause so close to them.
The gala, said Jennifer Reaveley, a society director and event organizer whose husband is a brother of Dan Reaveley, is not meant to bring any tears.
Rather, it’s aimed at honouring Charlene Reaveley and offering a message of hope and healing to kids who are now without a parent or sibling — and fill in their financial and emotional needs.
Shannon Brooks, a society director who’s engaged to Dan Reaveley, admits the stories they hear are often heartbreaking but the work by the 100 per cent volunteer organization gives relief.
Counselling sessions — many of them at their Shaughnessy Street office in Port Coquitlam — are granted as are bursaries for post-secondary education; last year, the society distributed 27 bursaries to graduating students.
Proceeds from the gala and other fundraisers (bottle drives, movie nights, etc.) also go to pay for summer camps like Camp Kerry in New Westminster, which has bereavement programs for kids and families impacted by grief, loss and terminal illness. “It’s a place for kids to be kids and enjoy their summer, and not have to worry about the stresses in their life,” said Brooks, a mother of two who knew Charlene Reaveley before the fatal accident.
As well, it provides new toys at Christmas to its young clients (last year’s toy drive hauled in 1,897 gifts across the Lower Mainland) and it lends books and resources from their library, suitable for families experiencing loss.
Jennifer Reaveley said the idea for the society sprung about a month after Charlene died. Seeing the lack of support around, especially for grieving kids, Dan Reaveley officially launched the charity in 2012, knowing his late wife’s love for children.
The charity’s clients are referred by a number of groups, including Camp Kerry and through connections with Canuck Place, and they continue to be their biggest cheerleaders — even after the services aren’t needed.
“There are so many families out there feeling loss but, for some reason, they don’t match a certain criteria to qualify for programs and financial aid,” Jennifer Reaveley said. “We feel very grateful to be allowed to step in and assist.”
She added, “Charlene loved children and I think she would have been proud of what we’re doing. The legacy that she made on this world is immeasurable.”
• Tickets to the 7th annual Fire & Ice gala on April 7, in support of the Charlene Reaveley Children’s Charity, are $90, or $850 for a table of 10. Sponsored in part by The Tri-City News, the semi-formal fundraiser at the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver (2080 United Blvd., Coquitlam) includes dinner, dancing and auctions. Visit crccs.ca.
If you’re unable to attend the Fire & Ice gala on April 7, you can support the charity through its silent auction.
With online bidding opening tomorrow (March 28) via crccsgala.com, the prizes include: a helicopter ride, catered Indian dinner for 12 people, a stay at the Tigh-Na-Mara resort, tickets to Whitecaps, Vancouver Canadians and BC Lions games, passes to Science World, surf lessons in Tofino, and concert and Cirque du Soleil tickets.
CAN YOU HELP?
New board members are sought for the Charlene Reaveley Children’s Charity, especially professionals with bookkeeping and special-event planning skills. To volunteer, visit crccs.ca.