Dab & Donate organizers recently met with Cathie Sturam, Acute Care Site Director at St. Joseph’s Hospital, to tour Mental Health & Psychiatry Services at St. Joseph’s and see where the $7,100 raised at the monthly music bingo event has been going. Left to right: Carmen Christensen (98.9 The Goat), Cathie Sturam, Devin Moldenhauer (owner, Avalanche Bar & Grill) and Katie Maximick (Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation).

When Dab & Donate to Mental Health was introduced to the Comox Valley last October, organizers didn’t expect it to be the sudden success it’s become.

Since it began in October, the monthly music bingo fundraiser at the Avalanche Bar & Grill has raised $7,100 for Mental Health and Psychiatry at St. Joseph’s Hospital via the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation.

“The last four events have been awesome,” says Devin Moldenhauer, owner of Avalanche Bar & Grill. “We were hoping to raise $10,000 in a year. We’re not even halfway there and we’ve raised over $7,000.”

“To me that’s a true testament to not only the event, but also the people who come out to support it each month and the local businesses who donate the prizing. It’s a fun event, we have themes, and it’s always different each time you come.”

At each event there are three rounds of music bingo when clips of songs are played and dabbers search for the songs on their bingo cards. Bingo cards are only $5, and there are three to four winners per round, as well as door prizes and games.

So far funds raised from the four Dab & Donates have helped purchase games, activities and Christmas presents for patients staying in Psychiatry Services at St. Joseph’s, and there are plans in place to organize special community outings for patients, as well as to provide specialty mental health training to staff in the department.

Cathie Sturam, Acute Care Site Director for St. Joseph’s and the new hospital, is a regular attendee of Dab & Donate, and gets to see directly how the funds from the monthly event impact patients and staff.

“This is a fun-filled evening full of energy and team spirit,” Sturam says. “Several departments from St. Joseph’s go early to reserve a table with their team and it’s a great team-building event.”

“I see this as a wonderful community event that directly supports the needs and requests from our Mental Health Services. We are ever so appreciative and honoured to be recognized as the recipient of this wonderful event and its contributions.”

Any unused funds raised from the event will remain in the Mental Health & Psychiatry fund with Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation (CVHF) for future use at St. Joseph’s and the new Comox Valley Hospital once it opens this September.

“There was zero funding for Mental Health & Psychiatry at St. Joseph’s back in September, and our Foundation had issues funding some specialized staff training,” says Katie Maximick, Communications & Fund Development with CVHF, “So when Devin asked, ‘How can I help?’ I knew exactly where the funds could go.”

“It was a great fit, and has been a success on so many levels. The three of us got to tour Psychiatry recently to see firsthand how, and who, Dab & Donate is helping, and it was truly humbling and a bit emotional. I’m pretty proud of how far this little event has come.”

One in four Comox Valley residents are impacted by mental health issues, and Moldenhauer is hoping that Dab & Donate can help spark up some much-needed conversations about it.

“More and more people who are coming out to these events are actually talking about mental health with us,” he says. “We’re starting to hear their stories on how mental health has affected them or someone they know. We just want to shine a light on mental health just like any other illness that is talked about.”

“Mental health will touch us one way or another in life, and this event seems to ‘normalize’ mental health. In fact it celebrates it,” adds organizer Carmen Christensen from 98.9 The Goat. “It’s a public event that’s all about having fun in the name of mental health, instead of sweeping it under the community rug.”

The next Dab & Donate to Mental Health is Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 7pm at the Avalanche Bar & Grill.

Even though it falls on Valentine’s Day, Moldenhauer insists that whether you’re in a relationship or flying solo, all are welcome to spend Valentine’s Day at the Avalanche for a good cause. You might even see a cupid or two.