S.U.C.C.E.S.S. fundraising walk set for Sunday
July 15, 2015
By Chuck Chiang, Vancouver Sun |
The growth of the annual Walk with the Dragon fundraiser for the SUCCESS immigrant services society over the past 30 years has mirrored the tremendous growth of that organization.
The walk, one of the largest non-profit fundraising events in Metro Vancouver, takes place in Stanley Park on Sunday.
The first Walk with the Dragon 30 years ago was predominantly a Chinese-Canadian event, with only 500 attending. Last year, it drew a multi-ethnic crowd of 13,000 as well as many provincial and municipal political leaders.
The target this year is $400,000, the same as last year, when the walk surpassed the target by $50,000.
The money pays for SUCCESS social programs that are not supported by government grants, including those targeting youth leadership, seniors health, family counselling and other workshops not specifically serving the new immigrants community.
“In order to provide the highest level of service to the community, we have to fundraise,” said Sing Lim Yeo, chair of the SUCCESS Foundation, which raises money to support SUCCESS and organizes the Walk.
“If you look at this event in its first year, it was a small gathering. Today, it is a major community event with 13,000 people. Maybe, if the weather is good, we’ll see even more.”
Last year, rain fell on the walkers.
For years, SUCCESS has expanding its services beyond the Chinese community, to South Asian, Korean and Latin American groups. The multicultural nature of today’s SUCCESS is heavily promoted by walk organizers — their poster highlighted past performances at the walk of taekwondo, southeast Asian dances and fashion shows of Eastern European traditional fashion. This year, the performance slate includes Latin American music and a Japanese drum demonstration.
“If you look at this 30 years ago, it was a Chinese event, but today it is very much a multicultural reflection of the Vancouver community, “ said Terry Yung, vice-chair of SUCCESS. “This is what we hope to provide for our new community members, to help them bridge the gap and help make an impact in the community. “
In recent years, Canadian non-profits have felt the squeeze of economic uncertainty with several facing challenges in fundraising as citizens tighten their spending and donations.
Yeo said the SUCCESS has faced the same issue in recent years, in addition to adapting to a shift from Cantonese-speaking arrivals from Hong Kong to Mandarin-speaking residents from Mainland China.
“We face challenges like everyone,” he said. “But we’ve been around for 40 years, and we have families that have been with us for 40 years, who support our services. We have great corporate partners. We have been lucky to have been supported by the various levels of government.
“But that’s not enough. Especially with the group of new Canadians from Mainland China, we hadn’t done very well a few years ago. That’s why we have been refocusing our efforts. We are a multicultural society, and our prosperity depends on the prosperity of all our communities.”
Yung said the fact SUCCESS was able to win a federal contract in April to provide pre-arrival services to new immigrants in China, Japan and much of Southeast Asia signalled that the gains made by the non-profit in recent years have been recognized. SUCCESS is scheduled to open offices in Beijing and Shanghai this summer.
“We won Beijing and Shanghai opportunities because we see the future of where our services is,” he said. “We need to continue to see what kind of services people need, like helping new Canadians get gainful employment. We need to continue to have relevant programs, because without it, we would not be making a difference.”
The Walk will start at 8:30 a.m. at the Lumbermen’s Arch and goes for seven kilometres around the seawall. More information can be found at www.successfoundation.ca/walk/details.php.