“Since 1975, Griffin Centre has been delivering services to people who thought their needs didn’t count.”
This is the first thing you see upon entering their website and nothing encapsulates this wonderful non-profit organization more. Since the 70s, families who need it have been supported through services that include counselling, day/residential services and respite services.
I have been volunteering on the Fundraising committee with Griffin Centre since I found their posting on through charityvillage and hit it off with the Fundraising Director on that fateful day in 2007 during the interview. Every year, we raise funds for what is definitely the main event that pulls the most support from the community – a themed boat cruise they are able to put on thanks to presenting sponsor Compass Creative Media.
What I always love most about the boat cruise is the sense of family and camaraderie that fills the air. Most attendees work for or with Griffin Centre and already know each other, but even for someone like me I am made to feel like “one of them”. From my very first year working on the cruise, I have been welcomed with open arms and my efforts to raise funds never go unrecognized. This organization has grown near and dear to my heart. If this is how I feel, imagine what they do for their clients.
Over the years, through everyone’s efforts, we are able to raise upwards of $20,000 annually through donations, sponsorship and ticket sales for the boat cruise. Amazing. The event includes a meal, raffle prizes, games, musical entertainment, a poker table, free pictures taken by Black’s photographers and endless dancing thanks to a great dj. Over the last few years, the cruise has been held on the Empress of Canada which – with 3 levels – is the perfect size and layout for the event.
The themes are always really exciting; from “Something blue” to “Ride the wave” to even all-white and even “Disco”, but THIS year I was BEYOND excited to find out the theme was Glow – The Neon Edition. Say what? NEON?? A theme after my own heart!
Despite the cold temperature, supporters showed up. The event started with people checking in as either the VIP or regular then attendees were able to enjoy some hors d’oeuvre while they waited to board the Empress of Canada. As people arrived, I couldn’t help but get more excited at seeing all the bright colours!
Everyone got a glow stick along with a ticket for a complimentary Hypnotiq shot!
Some people took the theme and costume ideas very seriously and well represented. I was loving every minute of it, really. I guess I wasn’t the only one excited to have an excuse to wear really bright colours for an evening.
Once all was settled and the boat was out on the water, dinner commenced followed by a magic show while some of us volunteers sold raffles tickets. The sponsored raffle prizes are always pretty impressive (7-piece bed sets, winery tours, ROM tickets, movie gift sets and various gift baskets to name a few) and before we know it the sales start to take off. I however truly believe that many purchase tickets to support a very good cause, and do not care if/what they win. The generosity of many is immeasurable.
The highlight of the evening would of course be the dancing. After dinner, most hit the dancefloor and don’t get off until the boat has docked.Not only was there an amazing drummer this year, but he was accompanied by an equally amazing Sax player. It was definitely a well-rounded evening.
Like every other organization, the volunteers make a huge difference. Without the committment and passion of people, events wouldn’t be the hits we know them to be. Each step of the planning takes the time and selflessness of a small group of people who work towards that one common goal. I was once again amazed by the work of a great team of people!
If this post has touched you and you’d like to support Griffin Centre and its services, please visit their website to make a donation. Thank you to EVERYONE who has supported us – your generosity did not go unrecognized. A special Shoutout to my friends as well – you helped me get within a couple hundred dollars of my $10,000 goal that I have raised cumulatively since I started volunteering with Griffin Centre! Your name is on the board that was displayed at the cruise. THANK YOU!