april lewis zoomer

PENINSULA ZOOMERS: Surrey women in need fortunate to have Options

Options Community Services aims to raise $1.5M for affordable housing

I imagine by now you have watched the interview.

The interview with Meghan and Harry who sat down recently with talk show queen Oprah to bare their souls.

Poor Meghan.

Poor Harry.

Didn’t Meghan realize what she was getting herself into when she married into The Firm? Had she never heard of Princess Diana?

Was Harry blinded by love and clueless to the repercussions of marrying an older, divorced American?

I’m surprised Oprah didn’t compare Meghan to Wallis Simpson, another divorced American who wooed a previous royal away from the Institution.

Meghan, the consummate actress, pulled at our heartstrings as she relayed the horrors of her royal life.

Not to belittle her mental health struggles in any way, but luckily, she can nurse her wounds in the comfort of her US$15,000,000 mansion in tony Montecito, Calif. while the rest of the country battles the insidious onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I must admit the interview provided me with a much-needed reprieve from the daily pandemic news.

But indulge me as I get back to reality as I write this on International Women’s Day.

In Surrey, hundreds of women are threatened with homelessness or in need of affordable housing. They are facing violence, mental health issues, racism and poverty.

They don’t have an Oprah to highlight their problems.

But Surrey is fortunate to have Options Community Services.

Options Community Services has launched its first capital fundraising campaign to raise $1.5 million for affordable housing units in Surrey. The purpose-built, mixed-income housing site will be at King George Boulevard and 81 Avenue.

Of the 100 housing units spread across the top four floors of this building, 30 will be market rentals (still targeted to vulnerable populations, as not all vulnerability is financial), while the remaining 70 will be non-market rentals—designated as affordable housing, with rent starting as low as $375 per month for a one-bedroom.

These units will be for women fleeing violence, refugees, seniors, at-risk youth, and others facing barriers in finding decent and affordable housing. The ground and second floors will host several community services, such as: Early Years, special needs services for children, and mental health outreach – allowing Options to expand accessibility of its services to not only the tenants, but to the community as well.

The money is currently being raised through a partnership with 50 local women, all of whom have pledged to raise $25,000 each in support of this project.

My colleague and good friend, Ramona Kaptyn, President of CARP in White Rock/Surrey, is one of these women.

Ramona is a former journalist, editor, teacher, public information officer for the government of Ontario, hotel managing director, and fundraiser in Canada, Australia, England, and Asia. She is an active community volunteer and is considering running for Surrey city council.

From 2002 to 2008, she worked in international development in Southeast Asian countries to contribute to a more equitable world.

The Women of Options affordable housing campaign resonated with her and she jumped at the chance to support the initiative because she feels everybody needs a sense of belonging, a home, a place to feel secure. In her travels, she didn’t have a permanent home for several years, couch surfing with friends and her sister. Settling in Surrey has made her feel at home at last.

Please consider supporting Ramona in her quest to raise $25,000 for Options Affordable Housing Campaign by going to womenofoptions.ca/ramona-kaptyn/ or call her at 778-294-0787 to learn more about sponsorship opportunities. No amount is too small.

We are fortunate to call Surrey home.

I’m sure Harry and Meghan would agree.

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.


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