COCHRANE— Throwing its support behind the Wayfinders Wellness Retreat and its mission to help first responders and military personnel heal from traumatic mental injuries, Canlin Energy donated $5,000 to the organization on Friday (Aug. 20) at the historic Wineglass Ranch.
Paul Wagman, the founder of the Wayfinders Wellness Retreat said the donation Canlin has made extends beyond the financial support they have offered to the organization.
“This is a partnership, not just a donation. Really, they’re making an investment in the community, they’ve been talking about how this partnership that we’re going to working with, and them following what we’re doing, is going to contribute back to their organization in navigating mental health and knowing there’s a network of support out there,” he said. “We are the poster children, even though we’re first responders and military, we’re sharing this with everybody.”
Canlin Energy has agreed to supply a crew of volunteers to help complete some of the ongoing projects at the Wineglass Ranch, which will help transform the ranch house there into a functional base of operations.
“We’re in a real crunch to get … the project at the ranch house, which is our base of operations, completed, so we can get our podcast going again, get our core programing running again,” he said. “We still have more work to do, a little bit more fundraising. Canlin has also volunteered a crew of people to help us with the work that needs to be done. We really need some physical volunteer work done within the next couple of weeks. The paint is ready to go, the floor is ready to go, the appliances are ready to go back in, we just need manpower.”
The day also included the donation of a saddle with a special connection to the Wayfinders from Kathleen Beynon, a long-time resident of the area.
Beynon grew up in the area and used to visit the Wineglass Ranch as a child. She described the ranch as a hub of activity for many of the ranching kids in the area, who used to visit to play in the river that runs through the property, visit with the animals or take a walk through the garden.
Beynon’s family bought a ranch horse and saddle from Wineglass Ranch, which she has now returned to its former home, along with a special stand that features photos of the old ranch and the story of the saddle.
“Captain Bryce Talsma was talking about the irony of how we are trying to get people back in the saddle,” Wagman said.
Wagman said those simple donations, as well as the monetary donations and volunteer support they have received from the community are all important, because it lets the injured first responders know that they have a community of support behind them as they try to get back on track.
“It takes community to heal,” Wagman said.
The Wayfinders are currently looking to fill several positions on the board after losing a few during the turbulent months of COVID-19.
“We’re looking to fill a lot of positions, we need help with fundraising, marketing, the business end of operations— There are going to be lots of opportunities,” he said. “We want to make sure that people know that there are opportunities to get behind this movement of raising awareness of mental health, and it’s so needed now.”
Some members of the board were individuals who had dealt with mental injuries like post traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries, and COVID-19 has had a negative effect on some of them.
“COVID has had a huge impact on all operations, but certainly on our fundraising and our ability to atttract board members and keeping our marketing strategy moving forward. The pressures of that have had an impact on some of our board members who are injured,” he said. “COVID has had a very negative impact on our organization and the mental health of some of our people. That’s why we’re focusing on trying to rebuild our board with members who are philanthropic.”
Having those board members in place who can navigate the needs of the non-profit is crucial at this stage in the organization’s development, Wagman said, as it will allow the people who run the programming to focus on helping those who are dealing with mental injuries.
“It’s critical. We developed this from a steering committee of injured responders who were moving beyond healing into recovery and road mapping mental health in a dynamic way,” he said. “In order for us to continue that work, the board members have been the ones doing that work, and now we need to transition to doing only that work, and to leave the operations and the maintenance of a well-built non-profit to the people who can do that best and facilitate everything. We need that in order to continue to have a measurable impact.”
To find out more about volunteer opportunities visit wayfinderswellness.ca/.