A record amount was raised at the 2018 Chief’s Gala to support Victim Services Toronto (VST).
At a media conference at police headquarters on February 22, it was announced that a total of $674,420.38 was raised at the gala, which is VST’s major fundraiser. This more than doubled the previous best of $301,533.54 raised in 2017.
A record total of 1,300 guests attended last year’s fundraiser.
“Last year’s gala was phenomenal and I am so proud of everyone that helped put it together,” said Chief Mark Saunders. “The important role that Victim Services play is second to none and I have experienced that first hand. It is one of the agencies that is near and dear to my heart and we always do our best to support it anyway we can.”
VST provides a lifeline for nearly 20,000 victims annually.
Those subjected to crime and sudden tragic circumstances can access the organization that offers response, trauma and support services 24 hours a day.
Supervised by crisis counsellors, volunteers provide crisis intervention and referrals, assist on the telephone or attend the scene as requested. They also aid with fundraising and other community outreach initiatives
VST executive director Bonnie Levine said 2018 taxed the organization to the limit.
“The past year has been one of extreme traumatization in Toronto with reverberating effects felt through the province, the country and internationally,” she said. “The violence in the city has been like none other we experienced before with the van attack in North York, the shooting on the Danforth, a serial killer terrorizing the LGBTQ2S community and all this happening while there is an unprecedented number of homicides and shootings. It’s a year that many are still reeling from.
“But in the midst of all these horrifying tragedies, Victim Services Toronto has met so many unexpected heroes doing incredible things for complete strangers like wrapping wounds of people on the street and holding the hand of a stranger as she takes her last breath. We have met people who have become the instant caregiver of a neighbour’s child for weeks on end. These are the everyday heroes who inspire us and give us hope.”
VST is staffed by about 50 people in full and part-time roles and supplemented by 200 volunteers.