Community

Surrey company finds creative way to help

Raven general manager, Ashley Bouchard, left, and her sister Gabrielle, sit in on a Nepal elementary class in 2015 at a schoolhouse Raven helped build. - Contributed
Raven general manager, Ashley Bouchard, left, and her sister Gabrielle, sit in on a Nepal elementary class in 2015 at a schoolhouse Raven helped build.
— image credit: Contributed

It’s being called the “Raven Model.”

Several years ago, Raven Hydronic Supply Ltd. created an innovative way to raise money for charitable causes.

Now, that method is being used as an example by Room to Read, a nonprofit that supports girls’ education and literacy in developing countries.

The original concept was theorized, and put in place by South Surrey resident and Raven president, Brian DeJaegher.

“Brian had a fundraising technique in mind, as we never ask for a discount from our suppliers. We decided to start the “Room to Read discount,” where discounts from suppliers would be allocated to our fundraising and matched by Raven,” said Ashley Bouchard, general manager of Raven Hydronic Supply.

The company has been operating this tactic since 2013, and has since contributed more than $124,000 to Room to Read.

Room to Read was founded by author, activist and former Microsoft executive, John Wood.

“He has contacted us a few times to put together a draft of our model and how we ask for these funds. He’s presented it to different companies and speeches he has given. He called it the Raven Model, trying to get more companies to jump on board with that,” Bouchard said.

Since inception, Raven has been able to build schools, libraries and fund scholarships for impoverished children in several Asian countries.

“Our first project was in Palpa, Nepal, where we funded the construction of a two-room school house and library for $25,000. The projects are always half-funded by the local community in labour, materials, etc., so they have to buy-in and (have) the drive to see these projects succeed and last,” Bouchard said.

Bouchard and her sister, Gabrielle, went to Palpa in 2015 to visit the schoolhouse and library that Raven helped fund.

“They were so gracious and thankful we had given them the opportunity for a higher level of education,” Bouchard said.

Two weeks after the sisters returned to Canada, the April 2015 Nepal earthquake struck, killing nearly 9,000 people, inuring 22,000 and flattening buildings across the region.

With the experience still fresh in mind, Raven paid an additional $30,000 to rebuild a school that was destroyed.

Raven’s second year of fundraising was for teacher training and a library in Nepal. Following that, the company raised enough money to provide 50 high school scholarships to young girls living in India.

“A lot of girls are taken out of the public school system by Grade 4 or 5 to go help their families and work in their house,” Bouchard said.

The scholarships help pay for uniforms, school supplies and a community liaison that would ensure that the girls continue their education.

Last year, the company funded another 50 scholarships for girls in Cambodia.

This year, the company is fundraising for two libraries in Tien Giang province, just south of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

The projects are selected by Room to Read staff, which work in the countries which they support.

The Room to Read countries include Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Bangladesh.

For more on Room to Read, visit www.roomtoread.org

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