There are numerous West Shore families with connections to the military.
The Westshore Rebels are well aware of that fact and took steps to not only recognize serving and past members of the military and their families at a B.C. Football Conference game at Westhills Stadium this season, but to undertake a fundraiser for the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre.
During a military appreciation day promotion, the club sold camouflage-patterned Rebels shirts, with the proceeds destined to help the Centre support active military families.
Rebels director of community and media relations Jason Sperling noted that while the amount delivered to the centre’s Colwood location last week was modest, the club hopes to expand on the fundraiser next season.
“(The club is) proud to be able to give this small donation to the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre, as they play an instrumental role in our community,” he said.
Jon Chabun, Sperling’s counterpart with the EMFRC, said the organization appreciated this gesture and others from community members who support the Centre’s objectives.
“We’re an independent, non-profit organization and we totally rely on donations to run our programs that our families rely on,” he said. “It’s been great to see a lot of individuals and companies and organizations who aren’t directly related to the military want to give. We have a connection to so many family members.”
CFB Esquimalt has approximately 4,700 military members, who have roughly 6,500 dependents, Chabun said. While there are families throughout south Vancouver Island with connections to the navy base, “the West Shore is huge.”
Among the Centre’s current service activities is keeping family members of the crew of HMCS Winnipeg apprised of what their loved ones are up to halfway around the world. The Centre facilitates communication and offers regular updates, but also works to ensure those at home are taken care of, which can include providing counselling.
The ship and 250 crew left in June and won’t be returning to home port for another few months, a lengthy separation that can be tough.
“We’re here to support the unique aspects of the military lifestyle,” Chabun said. “It’s constant ongoing education to let people know we do exist.”
Military family members can access the Centre by visiting esquimaltmfrc.com, by calling 1-800-353-3329 or by stopping in at the Colwood Pacific Activity Centre, 2610 Rosebank Rd. or the Youth Activity Centre at 720 Galiano Cres. in the Belmont Park area.