When Devin Moldenhauer took ownership of the Avalanche Bar & Grill nine years ago, he likely never expected that someday his 8th Street establishment would be a major charitable contributor to local mental health needs and education in the Comox Valley.
After months of renovations that gave the interior of the Avalanche a pretty impressive transformation, Moldenhauer finally had the time to make a plan and give back to the community, something he has wanted to do for years.
“We’ve done quite a few different charity events at the Avalanche, but we wanted to find one charity to become involved with regularly,” Moldenhauer said. “I used to live in Australia and the pubs there are very community based where they sponsor various clubs and teams. I wanted to create the same community feel here that I saw at pubs over there, because that’s what I feel a pub should be.”
“By doing something like a regular charity event, we’re able to achieve that by inviting the community here to help us give back collectively.”
Years ago, a group organized a one-time charity event at the Avalanche with music bingo, and something about it stuck with Moldenhauer. Eventually he brought in Music Bingo each Friday at the Avalanche, for fun, not for fundraising, and then when the time felt right, he reached out to some of his connections to see if he could use music bingo for good in the community.
“I put it out in the universe and I spoke to my 98.9 Goat FM sales rep Carmen Christensen, and told her my idea,” he said. “She came in to talk about what we want to do here at the Avalanche and that’s when she was able to introduce us to Katie from Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation, and the three of us focused on local needs and decided that proceeds should go to mental health.”
“Mental Health as a whole is a problem everywhere, but in downtown Courtenay there seems to be some areas where you see it more often than in other places in the Valley, so to be able to gather our community together each month to help out mental health feels really good.”
The result of their brainstorming was Dab & Donate to Mental Health, a monthly music bingo event with 100 per cent of the sales of bingo cards going to Mental Health and Psychiatry at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and eventually at the new Comox Valley Hospital when it opens in the fall of 2017.
Proceeds will directly support patient needs in Mental Health and Psychiatry at St. Joseph’s, like funding programs and activities such as puzzles, games, cards and adult colouring books for art therapy, patient outings, as well as staff education, which is vital to providing proper care.
“There’s a great financial need for educating our staff,” said Robert Haubrich, Manager of Mental Health, Substance Use and Psychiatry Services at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “We’re getting more complex clients and patients, and to upgrade our knowledge and skills really benefits the patients, and there hasn’t been a lot of funding for education.”
“Events like this can help with that, while normalizing mental illness and mental health,” he added. “What’s really needed is acceptance of having mental illness, like there is for people having heart disease or cancer.”
The first Dab & Donate was held on Sept. 18, and over a dozen local businesses generously donated prizing for the event, with the Avalanche putting up a Vancouver Canucks package as the top prize. More people showed up than they expected at the inaugural event, and they sold out of music bingo cards, maxing out donations at $726.
“It went over really well,” Moldenhauer explained. “We had great prizing, lots of people coming in the door and everyone had fun. We had a chance to talk a little about mental health as well, so that’s really important to get to talk about why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
“People are having fun and local businesses are getting involved with sponsoring prizing, so with all of these local businesses coming on board and seeing what we’re doing, it’s going to bring in even bigger prizing which will lead to more people and more money raised for mental health.”
The next Dab & Donate to Mental Health is Nov. 15 at 7 pm, and once again a Canucks package will be up for grabs with two tickets to the Canucks vs. Flames on Feb. 18 including a pre-game tour of the Labatt Beer Institute. There will also be another long list of incredible prizing and door prizes donated by local businesses, and a raffle for WestJet tickets.
“It’s fun and you get to donate while winning some awesome prizing like Canucks tickets,” Moldenhauer said. “Also a big thanks to all of the incredible businesses who have been donating prizing to support Mental Health.”
“Grab your friends and come on out. You’re going to have a lot of fun.”
If your business would like to sponsor a prize for any upcoming Dab & Donate events, email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Upcoming Dab & Donate dates:
- Nov. 15, 2016
- Dec. 13, 2016 (Ugly Christmas Sweater Gala)
- Jan. 10, 2017 (80s Music Theme & Costume contest)
Visit the Avalanche Bar & Grill’s website for more information.