River Valley Resilience Retreat kicks off 2022 fundraising

Submitted Photo (L to R) Heith Olmstead, Michelle McKeaveney, Jeff Reeder and Melanie Markling kicked off the fundraising for 2022 for the River Valley Resilience Retreat on Thursday.

The River Valley Resilience Retreat officially kicked off their 2022 fundraising season with a $2,000 donation from Northern Elite Firearms on Thursday.

The River Valley Resilience Retreat has set a goal of $200,000 to establish a permanent safe and secluded space for first responders and veterans rest, relax, recover and recharge, while also helping them develop the resilience skills needed to reclaim their lives at the retreat.

Retreat spokesman Jeff Reeder said that Northern Elite Firearms donation was a great start to 2022.

“So far we have raised $30,000 over the course of two years and our goal is $200,000 to get to turnkey,” he explained. “We are writing for grants and all sorts of things to bring the money in and get us to the point that we are operational and sustainable.”

Currently they are hosting retreats in the RM of Duck Lake and doing peer support and training.

They will continue to host Retreats until there is a permanent location in the area.

Reeder said the COVID-19 pandemic has made it tough to get large groups together to raise money.

“We had our golf tournament last fall, which was really successful, but as you know, new variants pose a challenge,” he said.

Along with the 2021 First Responders & Veterans Golf Scramble, they also hosted a Nordic Lodge Raffle, Grill and Chill on the Hill, and 2021 RVRR Silent Auction.

Reeder said they will continue to push until the Retreat is open.

“The need for a facility just keeps us going and we know it is there and we are not going to stop until we are successful,” he said.

With a launch like Thursday’s Reeder hopes it puts the retreat back in the front of mind for people.

“If you are not front of mind or having new events happen regularly it kind of comes and goes,” he said.

The work for the Retreat will continue until they reach their goal.

“We are working towards our charitable status and we will accept any kind of help from any kind of organization,” Reeder said. “If you can donate please consider helping us out because it’s a very valuable cause.”

During December 2021, Northern Elite Firearms raised $2,000 during a special New Year’s Eve Target Draw which was won by Mike St Clair.

“This was a good event that Northern Elite did for us to raise $2,000 in less than 24 hours,” Reeder said. “That’s very helpful.”

Northern Elite Firearms co-owner Melanie Markling is a former parole officer herself, who aid there is a definite need for a place like the River Valley Resilience Retreat. Her partner, Heith Olmstead, agreed, and thought the donation would be a nice contribution to the community.

“We both saw that there is a need,” she explained. “With the Target Draw, we had sold 400 of these targets, took part of the proceeds, $2,000, (and) thought, ‘we are going to give that back to the community.’

“We see the need in the community. Our first responders and their families and the experiences that they go through needs to be honoured and respected. This is the very least that we can do.”

Markling added that donations came in from firearms owners nationwide. She was also amazed by the support.

“They are this community of people that is so generous and they are fantastic people,” she said. “They believe in what I am doing as well, and it shows. We sold a lot of those targets in I think it was less than 24 hours, so it was pretty remarkable actually.”

Targets purchased during the draw will be donated for use on Lady’s Range Day. Markling said that donation will help too.

“I educate women and beginners how to shoot guns, how to use guns responsibly,” she said. “One of my big things is having firearms, but also knowing how to store them properly and everything that comes along with firearm ownership.

“I have lots of women and beginners that come into the range here and we work on those fundamentals of shooting.”