Not long ago, someone asked Tammy Bourelle if she worked.
“No, I’m a stay-at-home mom,” the South Surrey resident replied.
“But mom,” Bourelle’s eight-year-old daughter, Morgan, piped up, “you do work. You’re a fundraiser, you’re fundraising for Options.”
The moment was emotional for Bourelle, who is among 50 Surrey-area women each tasked with raising $25,000 to build and furnish an affordable housing project in Newton.
“It really resonated with me because I do feel like just a stay-at-home mom and you know, I want my kids to know that I did something and made a difference,” Bourelle said.
“It’s been very empowering. And when my daughter said that, I almost cried because I thought, ‘Yeah, I do work, and I am working on something important.’”
Bourelle’s work with the “Women of Options” project (womenofoptions.ca) helps Options Community Services raise $1.5 million in support of a new 100-unit housing project at 81st Avenue and King George Boulevard, in celebration of the organization’s 50th anniversary.
Launched in February, the campaign harnesses the fundraising power of 50 “influential South Fraser women,” and the fundraising is now in the final stretch, ending Wednesday (June 30).
The women are raising money in diverse ways, including personal donations, gift cards, silent auctions, painting classes, doughnut sales and even “Surrey Nostalgia” shirts and other merchandise.
All 50 of the fundraising women are profiled on womenofoptions.ca, along with project details.
Bourelle had never fund-raised before, but got involved in Women of Options after learning about how the housing project will help women fleeing violence, at-risk youth and others facing barriers in finding decent and affordable housing.
“I didn’t know what Options was,” Bourelle admitted. “I’d never heard of them before. It was a learning experience, and Options just does so much. For me, it was about kids aging out of foster care, and it’s also about women and children fleeing abuse, that’s where my heart tugs at.”
Inspired, Bourelle asked a group of friends to help her raise $25,000.
“I gathered seven ladies and said, ‘Let’s work together and raise some money for this important project.’ We did an online auction from donations we’d gathered, and that raised $3,300. Then my personal trainer and life coach, Sandra Sherbaty, she did a walk that raised $1,600. She really inspired and motivated me to do this project.”
Bourelle has personally raised close to $11,000, for a total of $22,178 so far, as of June 16, with some work still to be done.
“It’s very exciting,” she said.
“I did Facebook and Instagram posts about it, and then I sent out a group email asking for donations, telling people about the project, and my husband brought it up in his forum groups as well. A lot of people were really compelled to donate after hearing about it.
“I’ve committed to the $25,000, so even if we don’t get any more donations, I will donate out of my own pocket.”
Bourelle hopes to plan a group celebration, “once we can all sit together and celebrate properly,” and Options will host a virtual 50th-anniversary gala in November, with a “Mexican Fiesta” theme.
Ginny Hasselfield, Options’ Director of Development, said organizers of the fundraising campaign are thrilled to have so many people from the South Fraser and other parts of B.C. supporting the cause.
“The Women of Options campaign was conceived during COVID times when face-to-face meetings were out of the question,” Hasselfield noted in May.
“These 50 women and their supporters can say they have made a real difference in someone’s life. They have enabled us to fulfill our commitments to BC Housing and have furthered the cause of providing supportive and affordable housing to the vulnerable people in this community.”