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Despite pandemic, RCRG stays on course

By Don Fennell

Published 4:37 PDT, Fri June 18, 2021

Last Updated: 12:39 PDT, Mon June 28, 2021

COVID-19 may have turned the world upside down, but it failed to stop Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives from fulfilling its mandate.

Adopting a theme of Closed Doors, Open Hearts, the registered charity continued to serve as the hub for volunteering in the city—even when it meant having to pivot.

“As the world continues to be impacted by COVID, we continue to provide services valued by the community, just like we have for the past 49 years,” said outgoing RCRG board chair Richard Vetter. “We’ve pivoted and we’ve adapted, while always remaining committed to our mission and ideals. As I end my tenure as chair, I’ve never been prouder to be part of this organization. It’s been a unique pleasure to (see) amazing people do amazing work.”

A registered charity that serves as a hub for volunteering and giving, RCRG is also a direct service provider, operating a child care resource and referral centre, the Richmond Christmas Fund, and a variety of seniors community support services.

During RCRG’s recent annual general meeting, held online, Richmond Centre MP Alice Wong said of the organization: “The more I know about RCRG, the more impressed I am. You serve people of all ages, including seniors, and as a former minister for seniors that’s very close to my heart.”

Wong also gave a shout out to the many volunteers, noting that “no non-profit can survive without dedicated volunteers like you.”

B.C.’s parliamentary secretary for community development and non-profits Niki Sharma added that by staying true to a core mission of local philanthropy, RCRG has been able to navigate through the past year’s challenges while “ensuring Richmond remains resilient and inclusive for those fortunate enough to call it home.”

Mayor Malcolm Brodie lauded RCRG and its team of volunteers for their ongoing dedication, saying “RCRG is in the forefront of caring for our community. That you for how you add to it.”

Rick Duff was elected to chair the 14-member slate of directors for 2021-22, with Jat Puri and Lawrie Portigal serving as vice-chairs. Rebecca Swaim has been named executive at large, while Christine Campbell will continue her long-time role as treasurer. Zinnia Johnston, Charmaine Ponnambalam, Linda Reid, Richard Vetter, Antony Wang, Ray Wang, Pat Watson, Lisa Wong and Melissa Zhang make up the remainder of the board elected virtually on June 16.

Said RCRG president and CEO Ed Gavsie of Duff: “Rick is an experienced community leader. From fund development to community engagement, his expertise will help our organization grow and thrive, so we can meet the current and future needs of Richmond residents.”  

Duff succeeds Vetter, who remains on the board after serving two years as chair. 

“Richard’s impact on our organization cannot be overstated,” said Gavsie. “He led RCRG throughout the COVID-19 crisis, and his calm, considered approach influenced our response. (And) with Linda coming on board, and Pat returning, we have two people who know the Richmond community better than anyone. Antony, on the other hand, brings a more youth-focused perspective. This balance of experience and fresh ideas will lead to better decisions, both for our organization and the community.” 

The new board will lead RCRG through a significant milestone, as the organization celebrates its 50th anniversary. 

“Over the years, hundreds of board members have supported our work and contributed to our success,” said Gavsie. “This year’s group will carry on that legacy.” 

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