Black Tie Bingo raises $20,000 for mental health programs

By Sheldon Spackman
January 12, 2018 - 1:24pm Updated: January 12, 2018 - 2:47pm

Mental Health was the big focus for the Rotary Club of Red Deer when deciding where proceeds from their 25th annual Black Tie Bingo would go.

Event Co-Chair Bre Fitpatrick says mental health is a cause they wanted to make a commitment to, so a cheque of $20,000 raised from the October 2017 Black Tie Bingo was presented to Family Services of Central Alberta this past Monday.

“Family Services, they have a phenomenal program and they’re working with so many different schools and families in our community,” explains Fitzpatrick. “It was a really easy choice. We heard Judy (Scott) speak and there was over three suicides this year in elementary and junior high schools and that’s a really shocking number to hear.”

Fitzpatrick adds, “We know that they’re doing a lot of work and schools are calling them in to come and help support that, so we really wanted to make sure that we gave them some wings to be able to do that work.”

She says the money raised from the Black Tie Bingo will be used by Family Services of Central Alberta in their ‘Tame Worry Dragons’ program. Described on their website as an eight-week program designed to support children aged 5 – 8 as they explore their feeling of fear, anxiety and worry in a supportive environment. Essentially for families with children who are looking for coping tools relating to anxiety.

However, Fitzpatrick speculates that we as a community have yet to come up with a complete answer to dealing with mental health.

“I think that we’re pushing the dial forward on a variety of fronts and this is one of them,” says Fitzpatrick. “Until we see things being dealt with, we’re not going to know how effective something has been or that we found a 100 per cent solution but I think every step forward that we take, I think that is one thing that moves the dial and gets us a little closer to the objectives we’re looking for.”

October's Black Tie Bingo raised $106,000 in total, way up from $72,000 in 2016 and $88,000 in 2015.

Aside from the $20,000 going to Family Services of Central Alberta, Fitzpatrick says the other $86,000 raised will be distributed throughout the region to a variety of causes Rotary likes to support, such as "the Food Bank, to working with seniors, to so many different things".  

The Rotary Club's Legacy 100 Project is another initiative that stands to benefit from the Black Tie Bingo. It's a project that aims to commemorate the organization's centennial in our community in 2023. Currently, there is a call out for proposals from local non-profit organizations to be that $1 million legacy project for the Rotary. The submission deadline is January 26.

Fitzpatrick acknowledges there are many people to thank in making the Black Tie Bingo a big success each year.

“That’s everything from donating a bottle of wine, to donating a trip, to buying a ticket to attend or to volunteering their time,” explains Fitzpatrick. “It was every single person who had a hand in that that made the event successful.”

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