In the spirit of giving back during Vaisakhi and Sikh Heritage Month, students at L.A. Matheson Secondary have started a four-year fundraiser to support the creation of a long-term care facility for South Asian seniors.
“We wanted to help out our senior citizens because, as a child, when you grow up they’ve always helped us out. They’ve been like a second set of parents and they’ve helped us by holding our hands and teaching us whatever we know,” said Grade 11 student Gurkirt Kaur Manhas.
“During these times, when COVID is especially making situations worse, we thought we would help them out and give back to them.”
Manhas said it’s a long-term initiative, with a focus on fundraising during the month of April each year as it coincides with Sikh Heritage month and Vaiskahi.
“It’s basically going to be a legacy for Matheson,” she said.
“We’re collecting everything and anything we can because no donation is too small.”
While there is no specific fundraising amount set for this year or the four years, the group had raised a little more than $3,200 as of Tuesday morning (April 27). The fundraiser is ongoing until April 30.
Gurpreet Kaur Bains, the languages department head at L.A. Matheson and teacher sponsor of the fundraiser, said the group started with a $700 goal for this year.
“Then I moved to $1,000, then $1,500,” she noted.
Bains said she expects the fundraiser to hit $3,500 by the end of the week.
To donate to the fundraiser, visit surreyschools.schoolcashonline.com/Fee/Details/38111/90/False/True.
Meantime, Tegbir Kaur Gill said the pandemic really highlighted “how our seniors have had such a hard time … especially those who are in seniors homes.”
“We noticed that a lot of our seniors are especially having a hard time because these senior homes aren’t meeting their basic needs,” explained Gill, a Grade 11 student. “Like whether it be that they’re feeling disconnected with their culture, not speaking their language or (meeting) their dietary needs. They’ve spent their entire lives being connected to the culture and then suddenly they aren’t.”
Funds raised by the students will go toward supporting the Guru Nanak Diversity Village, a long-term care facility for South Asian seniors.
The facility, which will be located at 6471 175A St., is a partnership between Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS), the Ministry of Health and Fraser Health. It will be a three-story, 125-bed residential care facility.
Ankita Grewal, the fundraising officer for the project, said it’s great to get students involved because “they are building the community that is going to be there for the next 100, 200, 300 years.”
She said this long-term care home would be the fourth addition to the PICS senior care program, which already includes an adult daycare program, independent living and assisted living.
“What we were missing was the 24-7 care because a lot of time, even residents from assisted living, would end up going into mainstream senior living care facilities, long-term care facilities and we see they pass away sooner than expected.”
According to PICS, the total capital cost approved by the provincial government for the project is expected to be $58.3 million. Through community support, PICS is hoping to raise $5 million for construction costs.
A recent 13-hour radiothon raised more than $470,000 for the facility.
– With files from Tom Zillich