Inaugural tournament funds pair of local initiatives

Firefighter Dave MacAuley, YWCA CEO Donna Brooks, OSI-CAN Prince Albert's Michelle McKeaveney and advanced care paramedic Chris Pacey pose outside the fire hall Friday. MacAuley and Pacey helped lead a committee that ran a late August golf tournament. The tournament raised $10,000, and the pair donated $5,000 each to OSI-CAN and the YWCA Friday. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

An inaugural golf tournament organized by local first responders was a success in more ways than one.

The tournament, put on by representatives from the fire department and from Parkland Ambulance, was able to raise funds for two local charities while raising awareness about an important issue.

Held on August 30, the tournament was able to raise about $10,000, $5,000 each for YWCA Homeward Bound and for OSI-CAN Prince Albert.

“It was awesome, said Chris Pacey, an advanced care paramedic who helped lead the organizing committee.

“For our first year and this being our first time hosting a golf tournament, we had a great turnout.”

Pacey said the two charities were chosen because of the work they do in the community.

“Homeward Bound is doing an exceptional job getting people off the streets and giving them … that second chance. OSI-CAN is extremely helpful, especially with the huge spotlight of PTSD and operational stress injuries.”

YWCA CEO Donna Brooks was able to golf in the tournament. She said it was well-organized, and that she “had a blast” on the course. She was on hand Friday to receive the $5,000 donation on behalf of Homeward Bound.

“What it means to us is we are able to help people with supports we can’t get funding for anywhere else,” she said.

Brooks explained that many of the grants they receive for program funding won’t fund food.

“Nutrition is really important for the people we’re helping in our programs, so $5,000 goes a long way to buying nutritious food,” she said.

“Our YWCA programs have a lot of contact with first responders. We really rely on them, and we’re so appreciative when they give back to the community. I can’t even say how much it’s appreciated.”

Michelle McKeaveney was also at the fire hall Friday to accept the donation on behalf of OSI-CAN, which runs local support groups for first responders, veterans and their families impacted by PTSD and operational stress injuries.

“At OSI-CAN, we are growing and evolving by leaps and bounds across the province, and this donation today just reinforces all the great work we have been doing for the last two and a half, almost three years,” she said.

“To see the support from such local, amazing, young first responders, starting to promote mental health awareness amongst their own peers is huge. If these young first responders can take the supports given to them now, their lives are going to be amazing. This is huge for OSI-CAN. It created awareness that day and brought in some cash.”

The tournament, a project that took weeks of planning, ended up falling on the same day as the funeral for Robbie Curtis, a paramedic who died by suicide.

“All of our hearts were in two different places,” McKeaveney said.

“It was about creating awareness to not repeat what happened with Robbie in the first responder community and to let everyone know that there is support out there.”

McKeaveney thinks the tournament was successful in sharing that message.

“I’ve had three different phone calls for people reaching out asking for help because of what was posted, what was shared at that tournament, and that means that there’s an element of safety that was created, and people were able to reach out.”

For Pacey, it’s vital to share that message of strength.

“I think it shows that we all need to be there for each other,” he said.

“The supports are there. Whether you’re fire, EMS, corrections, police — we all see the dark of our jobs and we need to be beside each other to make sure that we all hold each other high.”

OSI-CAN Prince Albert can be contacted online at http://www.osi-can.ca/contact-options.html, or by calling 306-981-6083. OSI-CAN can also be reached via Facebook and Twitter.

If you or anyone you know needs help, call the Crisis Suicide Helpline 306 525 5333 or 306 757 0127. If you are in rural Saskatchewan call toll-free at 1 800 667 4442 [Farm Stress Line]. In an emergency, call 911.