Personal reflections by Colt Long, CFRE
Development & Communications Manager, BCCDC Foundation

In my 20+ years of fundraising, I have never experienced, or could have imagined, how this last year would have played out. When COVID-19 really started to hit Canada, I was fundraising for a hospital foundation on Vancouver Island, had just completed a week-long immersive course in beautiful Quebec City, and was leaving my hotel that morning to head to the VIA Rail station to begin my two-day trip back to Comox.

News had hit La Belle Province, and everything started to change. It was all everyone was talking about as I headed home. I had purchased the biggest travel-sized bottle of sanitizer I could to fit into my carry-on, to keep as safe as I could before I knew more.

I undoubtedly knew that my, and our focus going into this unknown future was going to be to raise funds to help fight this scary, new normal that was unfolding before all of our eyes. I followed Dr. Bonnie Henry every time she was providing her daily updates, and it was through her calming but confident voice, and the BCCDC and provincial updates that I sprang into action to raise all the funds possible to keep my community safe and supported.

Having completed my contract with the hospital foundation in the Fall of 2020, I spotted a job posting to fundraise for the BCCDC Foundation for Public Health. It was a no-brainer for me to apply immediately for the position, given how impressed I was with their rapid response to COVID-19 through the creation of their Emergency Response Fund (raising funds to go towards understanding and preventing the spread of COVID-19), along with addressing the overdose crisis through Compassion, Inclusion and Engagement (CIE), (raising funds to eliminate stigma, and support those using substances by building capacity and solutions through supporting peers to ultimately end the overdose crisis).

The Foundation has also funded many other projects including significant work to support study and implementation of the HPV vaccine, support for the elimination of conversion therapy (SOGIECE), a large-scale genomic study of tuberculosis transmission, and so much more.

I started working at the Foundation this past November and I know that I am where I need to be. Plus, the timing to join the BCCDC Foundation couldn’t have been better. Everything was in full-swing, and I was able to truly hit the ground running.

Since COVID-19, through to the present day has seen tremendous success, thanks to an overwhelming response from concerned citizens like you. This is evidenced in the donations to our two major campaigns addressing COVID-19–with combined gifts from our Emergency Response Fund and CIE totaling over $450,000.

We are truly thankful to our hundreds of new donors that came to the forefront to help our province. People like local chef Ann Kirsebom, who created the fantastic Dr. Henry’s Whisky Sauce, in honour of Dr. Bonnie Henry (I’ve tried it, and all I can say is YUM!), which is sold in many different stores in the province, and so far, has raised more than $5,500 so far in support of our Emergency Response Fund. Chef Ann has pledged to continue making and marketing the sauce until every BC resident has the COVID-19 vaccine.

Chef Ann cheque presentation with Kim Acedo, BCCDC Foundation

And then there’s Sheila Henry, a nurse, who, when she saw the devastating overdose crisis numbers in our province, ran an incredible 50K in support of CIE, raising more than $5,000.

Sheila Henry runs 50KM for the BCCDC Foundation’s CIE fund

What this past year has done is shine a light on the importance of investing in public health, now and into the future. Public health is about ensuring our community is safe from disease, illness, and anything else that can harm our population, including health inequities. It’s also about promoting health—enabling and empowering people to increase control over, and improve their health.

By investing in public health education and research, we can help ensure we keep our population safe and healthy, and prevent disease, injury, and illness.

We’ve worked tirelessly this past year, and will never stop performing the vital work we do each and every day. As we move forward, I am excited to know that no matter what comes our way, we will be ready for it, and that we have generous people like you supporting us every step of the way.

Investing in the BCCDC Foundation is a commitment to bettering the life of yourself, those you care for, and the citizens of this beautiful province.

In closing, one thing is abundantly clear to me… there is no single thing more important than our health. There have been many sacrifices we have all had to make to keep everyone safe. Just know that we will always be here to fight for the health of British Columbians, no matter what the future may hold. Please consider making a gift today to help ensure this place we love stays safe and healthy for generations to come. Thank you. 

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