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Port pushes Reach over top

Society is able to 'close the door' on fundraising after $400,000 commitment
A $400,000 funding commitment for the Reach Child and Youth Development Society’s planned child development centre in Ladner was announced last Friday at an event at Tsawwassen Springs.

The Reach Child and Youth Development Society is now able to "close the door" on construction costs for its planned child development centre in Ladner. It was announced last Friday that the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and its Port Gala partners have committed to providing the remaining $400,000.

"With your generosity and our community of support, in just over a year from now Reach will be moving into its new accessible 20,000-square foot community-based child development centre," society president Donna Burke told the audience at Tsawwassen Springs. "It will allow our organization to help change the lives of so many more children each year."

Reach currently serves more than 1,000 children with special needs and their families annually.

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority president and CEO Robin Silvester explained the port is committed to providing $100,000 and then collectively with its Port Gala partners, is committing another $300,000.

The gala is an annual event that brings together port tenants, suppliers and partners to raise money for community organizations, he said.

It has raised money for Reach for the past three years, he added. The partners include DP World Vancouver, Fraser Surrey Docks, Global Container Terminals and Western Stevedoring.

"As the federal authority that oversees and manages the Port of Vancouver, one of our goals is to enable thriving communities in the municipalities where we operate, including, of course, here in Delta where we have such a big footprint," he said.

Mayor Lois Jackson said Reach recognizes the uniqueness of each and every child and that we are "very fortunate to have this organization in Delta."

She said Delta is proud to partner with Reach for the construction of its new centre, adding the municipality is providing a $1 million contribution along with servicing valued at an additional $1.3 million.

Reach alumnus Myles McKie was the keynote speaker at the event.

McKie, who lives with autism, said his time with Reach was brief, lasting a little over a year, but it was long enough to make a big difference in his outlook.

"My friends at Reach did not set out to cure my autism. They generally cared about my wellbeing.

They wanted me to flourish. And I have," he said. McKie, who does plenty of public speaking, said he's held a full-time job with a large national firm for the last five years.

"Many families lose hope when faced with the difficulties of raising a child with special needs. I want to share my story to help struggling families move forward. I want other children and youth to access help that I had."