Despite their small presence within an international organization, Surrey-based SOS Children’s Village B.C. is hosting a large international event “against all odds.”
That’s the motto that executive director Douglas Dunn wants to promote as the foster village plans to host an inaugural awards gala at the Law Courts Inn in downtown Vancouver on Nov. 23.
“Against all odds is the theme for the evening,” said Dunn in a press release. “Against all odds, we will be hosting this international event recognizing outstanding leadership and success with nominees from the 134 countries, 572 villages, and the over 2,600 programs that comprise the global SOS federation.”
“The purpose of the SOS International Foster Awards Gala is to recognize leadership and success in foster care, to celebrate inspiring former foster children who have triumphed over adversity, and to raise money to help current foster children and youth in dire need,” said Communications Manager William Brennan in a press release.
One of the main draws for the event will be a new award that will be given to a former foster child who has beaten the odds to find success.
The recipient for the first award is it’s kind is local businessman Tom Watson.
Watson was a former foster child who bounced around 13 foster homes before landing with a stable family. He’s now a successful businessman who owns his own company called ‘Recreation Excellence.’
Dunn wanted to exemplify people like Watson so that they could become role models for current kids in the SOS Children’s Village.
“These people represent inspiring success stories for kids currently in care, so why not promote them as role models?” said Dunn.
Three former CFL Grey Cup winners will be on-hand at the event to support the efforts of the SOS Children’s Village.
Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons will be attending the event as a keynote speaker.
“Pinball’s talks centre on the potential for each of us to achieve anything we set our minds to,” said Brennan in a press release.
“Unabashedly emotional and impactful, he shows us how to put heart into everything we do.”
Recently retired B.C. Lion Marco Iannuzzi will also attend the event as an auctioneer. Another retired B.C. Lion, Lyle Green, will also be at the event.
Princess Salimah, Angelina Jolie and Bishop Desmond Tutu will also make on-screen announcements at the gala.
Although the SOS Children’s Village is a large international organization, there is not much representation in North America. The village in Surrey is the only one of its kind in Canada, and only four villages exist in the United States.
According to the SOS Children’s Village, they have a 100-per-cent success rate of foster youth graduating from high school within two years of the expected date.
The provincial foster care system only has a 40-per-cent success rate for graduation.
The event hopes to raise $100,000 to help current children in care who often struggle against drugs, homelessness, mental illness and abuse.