The South Eastman Rotary Club’s annual fundraiser supporting D.A.R.E. took place on Tuesday at the Mennonite Heritage Village.
Krista Friesen from the South Eastman Rotary Club says the funds from the luncheon support D.A.R.E. in HSD and also in some of the SRSD schools.
These last two years, they have also been supporting the RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) camps, as well as their Ripple Effect Program, which funds building schools in Guatemala.
Friesen says they are so blessed that the business community and local sponsors are passionate about supporting the D.A.R.E. program.
“To date we've raised over $200,000 in total for this program.”
She loves being a part of the Rotary.
“I love that we're a small group doing mighty things. We have eight members who are passionate about making our world a better place, and sometimes that includes local here in Steinbach and area, and sometimes that includes the world.”
Colin Campbell with Hanover School Division says a large number of students in HSD are impacted by the D.A.R.E. program.
“This year, we're fortunate we're going to have over 800 students who have the opportunity to learn from our RCMP officers.”
He says these officers have been working with the students for over a decade now, which brings that number of students impacted up drastically to over 10,000.
Campbell says not only does D.A.R.E. help students' well-being, it creates and fosters a connection between students and the local RCMP.
“It's important that (RCMP) are seen as leaders in our community to keep our community safe, and I think that it is critical for our students at young ages to see them as people of safety.”
He says the RCMP genuinely want to build relationships with the students, and they do a great job at it.
“Which is just powerful to see and hear the great feedback from our students. When they see these constables out and about in the community, they want to approach them and say hi. Our students know that our safety officers are here to keep them safe and healthy.”
Campbell is thankful to the Rotary Club for putting on the luncheon.
“This is an important event for our community and once again we're just grateful that we have RCMP support.”
Gerry ‘The Big Bear’ Barrett spoke at the fundraiser.
The Indigenous man mostly tours First Nation communities in northern Manitoba and northern Canada.
Barrett says the youth up there are experiencing a lot of isolation, and they don't have the services or resources to reach out like we do here in the Southeast.
“I always tell them, if you're being bullied or if you have any problems talk to the teacher, talk to your guardians, talk to your parents, but talk to somebody about it.”
He says it is great to see what the Rotary is doing for the youth of the Southeast, and it’s great to see youth explore more serious topics like alcoholism and drug abuse.
Barrett says he tries to be an example for youth through his own life experiences.
“I've gone through some bullying and some intimidation in my life, but I found a lot of passion for my school work, my education, and eventually my career, and it's taken me to places that you wouldn't believe. Follow your dreams and you can accomplish anything.”
Students Madison Danish, Kayden MacFarlane, Makenna Medeiros, and Riley Plett also spoke at the luncheon on how D.A.R.E. has impacted them.
With files from Corny Rempel
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