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Celebrating BC Tourism, Hospitality & More!

What would we do without our hospitality industry?

One thing for sure is that vacations would be dull and a heck of a lot more work: accommodations would be less comfy or non-existent; nobody would be cooking us scrumptious gourmet meals or waiting on us; we’d have to brew and distill our own beverages; provide our own room service; create our own entertainment all the time; there’d be nobody to educate us on the amazing wines in this valley. I can go on, but you know what I mean.

Furthermore, Fall Festival Weekend would be just a “pie in the sky” thought. If we didn’t have hospitality workers, we may as well delete the word “vacation” from the dictionary.

Thankfully, we do have a thriving hospitality and tourism industry here in BC comprised of all the important people whose focus is to bring comfort and ease to our hectic lives when we need a break. They help make our vacation experiences relaxing, fun, and memorable.

These people are the baristas, concierges, hotel staff, waiters, bartenders, cooks, wine ambassadors, sommeliers, brew masters, tourism writers, reviewers, marketing professionals, and many others in the hospitality industry whose job it is to provide the public with outstanding service.

When Crisis Happens

Realistically though, most everyone gets hit with a medical or health issue at some point in their lives. Sometimes we may even be forced to step back from our livelihoods for a time, or indefinitely, and then what? Bills keep marching in, and rents and mortgages still demand to be paid. The world doesn’t stop even when you or I must.

For those with extended health benefits, making monthly bill payments is easier. But what if there are no benefits to help when you can’t work during a lengthy healing process?

“Many people in the hospitality industry don’t have medical coverage or extended benefits,” said Alana Dickson, Executive Director of the BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF). “So, if a medical-related issue arises and a person must take time off work, they have no coverage. These situations can be financially devastating for families and individuals.”

The Catalyst

The story of the BC Hospitality Foundation began in the Fall of 2006 when long-time wine agent Michael Willingham had a brain aneurysm. It caused partial paralysis, left him unable to swallow, and damaged his lungs’ ability to breathe while sleeping. He wasn’t expected to survive but surprised everyone by fighting back to a point where he could walk short distances on his own.

Unfortunately, there was no clear medical solution, and the financial hardship he incurred was severe. Willingham’s colleagues in the wine industry rallied and raised an initial $50,000 to help with his situation.

Willingham was deeply touched, but his experience made him realize how many people in the service industry are one missed pay cheque or surprise health diagnosis away from financial disaster. He accepted the support, but with the recommendation that his colleagues set up a charitable organization that could provide similar help for others in the hospitality industry. They agreed, and thus the BC Hospitality Foundation was born.

Raising Funds & How They Are Used

The BCHF is the only charity of its kind in Canada. It’s the only charity that supports the hospitality industry. It is NOT government-funded like many other non-profit organizations, so it relies solely on the generous support of its partners and community leaders.

A volunteer board of directors and hundreds of volunteers help to organize and run events, including golf tournaments, to raise money.

In the past 15 years, the BCHF has given out $1.4 Million to help over 500 hospitality workers. They have also awarded 320 scholarships to those furthering their education in the hospitality industry.

The funds not only help hospitality workers (and their families) who are facing a medical crisis. They also go toward scholarship programs to help select students, enrolled in hospitality-related programs including culinary and beverage, to become the future hospitality leaders of tomorrow.

How Can BCHF Help You?

If you are a hospitality or tourism worker living in British Columbia and you are facing financial challenges due to a medical or health crisis, BCHF can help.

“If [hospitality workers] don’t qualify for EI or their EI hasn’t kicked in yet or there’s a long claim to go through the disability process, we’re here to offer financial relief,” said Dickson.

Visit BCHF online for the criteria and to download the application form.

Meet some of BC’s beneficiaries!

How Can You Help The Cause?

Whether you are a business (hospitality or other), a school, association, or an individual, there are so many ways to get involved and help the cause.

Here are some ideas:

  • Make the BCHF your annual ‘Charity of Choice’ and make a one-time donation from funds raised throughout the year.
  • Implement a payroll deduction ‘Employee Giving Program’.
  • Donate a scholarship in your name (or business name).
  • Host a fundraising event.
  • Promote a product with partial proceeds toward BCHF.
  • Donate partial proceeds from a designated wine or beer.
  • Donate partial proceeds from a select menu item.
  • Partner with BCHF to host an auction or contest.
  • Create an employee sales incentive.

You can also donate online, by phone, or by cheque mailed to BC Hospitality Foundation, PO Box 63515, Capilano PO, North Vancouver, BC, V7P 3P1.

Whichever way you choose to donate, BCHF is there to help with tax receipts, and fundraising resources including donation forms and letters, promo materials, newsletter advertising, social media promotions, and online fundraising pages.

Get In Touch!

Visit BCHF online to learn more or to get in touch!

The Story Of Fall Festival Weekend

Thanks to all of our AMAZING hospitality workers, volunteers, and sponsors, Fall Festival Weekend, including the Kick-Off Party with The Trews, Cask & Keg Festival, and Festival of the Grape is happening this fall from September 30th to October 2nd and we are STOKED!

Learn about how Festival of the Grape started and how it morphed into the popular Fall Festival Weekend that it is today!

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Tania is a local marketing professional and branding and event photographer. Visit her at @tvtourismphotography on Facebook and Instagram or online at tevweb.com.