Melvyn Mani (right) and mentor Jerry Gunadasa were connected through a Surrey Crime Prevention Society program. (submitted photo)

Melvyn Mani (right) and mentor Jerry Gunadasa were connected through a Surrey Crime Prevention Society program. (submitted photo)

Surrey Crime Prevention Society relaunches mentorship program with $150K in funding

Program supports vulnerable youth and helps them develop ‘a sense of civic pride’

A Surrey Crime Prevention Society program that helped Melvyn Mani become an award-winning volunteer has been relaunched with funding of $150,000 through grants, sponsorships and private donations.

The organization’s Community Safety Mentorship Program pairs mentors with vulnerable youth who may be experiencing bullying or isolation.

Mani was one such teen five years ago when he first met Jerry Gunadasa, a volunteer and trained mentor with SCPS who was studying criminal justice at the time.

Both mentor and mentee sought careers in policing.

Back in 2015, Mani was struggling to fit in at high school. He ended up valedictorian of his grad class and today, at age 23, works at an electronics company and studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

“Jerry was there through the rough patches,” Mani recalled. “Jerry motivated me to prepare for a career in policing and worked with me to secure a spot in the prestigious RCMP Youth Citizens Academy.”

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Mani was recently given the Pursuit of Excellence Award by Surrey Crime Prevention Society for his volunteer work in the Citizens Community Safety Watch Program.

“He’s come a long way,” Gunadasa said of Mani. “When he started off in the program he was pretty shy and timid and really closed off. It took a while for him to open up to me, and I was able to share a lot of my knowledge about policing with him.”

Surrey Crime Prevention Society announced the relaunch of its mentorship program on Tuesday (July 7).

“We are profoundly grateful for the generosity of our donors and sponsors,” said Karen Reid Sidhu, executive director of SCPS. “This program will support vulnerable youth while engaging them in activities that help them develop a sense of civic pride in their community.”

Since 1984, the volunteer-based Surrey Crime Prevention Society has backed community safety programs in Surrey. Today, SCPS has 350 volunteers, most of them university and high school students. Over the past five years, 1,600 volunteers contributed 145,000 hours toward the enhancement of community safety. More details are posted to preventcrime.ca, or call 604-502-8555.

The organization’s annual awards event for 2020 has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s Volunteer of the Year is Darren Brierley, who joined Surrey Crime Prevention Society in March of 2019. Since then, he has volunteered close to 350 hours of his time. “He participates in multiple programs including Citizens Community Safety Watch, Special Events and Traffic Safety,” according to a bio.

“Darren continues to demonstrate strong leadership, professionalism and has a can do attitude. He is reliable and always here to support programs above and beyond his program requirements. Darren leads new volunteers providing them with mentorship ensuring they are following proper procedures. His problem solving skills are superior and is capable of handling difficult situations that arise in his roles. SCPS is very fortunate to have such a dedicated volunteer.”

Other SCPS volunteer awards have been given to Samantha Mitchell, Kushal Patel, Amandeep Brar, Rob Gelderman, Gazaldeep Cheema, Anny Zhang, Amritvir Singh, Jasjot Sandhu, Manveer Rai and Simone Saini.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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