Rowena Veylan, left, executive director of the B.C. Hospitality Foundation, accepts a representative cheque from Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa human resources manager Jennifer Burgin for more than $12,000, the annual proceeds of an employee payroll deduction program at the resort. Don Descoteau/News Gazette staff

Bear Mountain Resort staff in Langford give a little but help a lot

BC Hospitality Foundation receive major donation from resort workers

Staffers at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa are not only helping out coworkers at times of need, but their counterparts around the hospitality industry.

On Tuesday a group of employees gathered for an impromptu ceremony at the hotel, where a year’s proceeds from their payroll deduction program was passed along to their charity of choice, the B.C. Hospitality Foundation.

Through the program called Tip Out to Help, resort staff raised $12,197 for the foundation, which helps industry workers in financial crisis due to injury or illness, and offers industry-related scholarships to hospitality workers and their families.

“I think that’s why it’s so special, it’s not an event that we held, everyone took a little piece of their paycheque and put it towards this cheque for $12,000. It’s pretty amazing,” said Jennifer Burgin, human resources manager at the resort.

Two staff members at the Westin have received benefits from the foundation. Having beneficiaries in their midst has helped encourage more employees to get on board with the voluntary program, she said. “We really treat each other like brothers and sisters, so when someone is faced with an illness, it really hits home and it hurts, we feel it for them as we would a family member.”

When staff heard that a member of the housekeeping staff had been diagnosed with cancer, Burgin said, the immediate thought was ‘how can we help?’

“Unfortunately, EI benefits don’t cover the entire duration of a sickness, so she’s in her second week of chemo and there’s no more money coming in.” Of the finalcial help, Burgin said, “It couldn’t have come at a better time for her. This dramatically changed her life and we’re all so happy for her.”

The total number of staff at the resort ranges from 300 to 400, depending on the season.

One of those staff, golf sales manager Chris Currie, remembered being asked whether he wanted to donate to the foundation when he first started working at Bear Mountain.

He said ‘yes’ right away, but has since seen the value of the organization and its work helping those in the industry.

“It’s a great foundation; we’re always talking about how we can build awareness about it,” Currie said. “A lot of people don’t know that if they’re stuck with some difficult situations … they can approach (the foundation), and often the answer is a positive one.”

He’s thrilled with how well Bear Mountain staff have supported the cause.

“We host plenty of charity golf tournaments and they’re happy as clams if they raising $5,000 or $10,000, so this is a significant amount and we wanted to celebrate a little bit more.”

B.C. Hospitality Foundation executive director Rowena Veylan said the organization has had slow, but steady growth in its 10 years of existence, especially on Vancouver Island.

“The support of those in the industry from the Island has been incredible,” she said, explaining, “It’s a sense of community … a lot of people we’ve talked to have worked up and down the Island, or travel and stay connected with other people in the industry.”

Bear Mountain also hosts an annual fundraiser golf tournament for the foundation in September, which last year brought in more than $20,000. Veylan said the foundation’s fundraising goal for the year is $500,000 and the donation from the resort staff is “huge amount of money” to come from one site.

For more information on the charitable organization and its programs, visit bchospitalityfoundation.com.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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