Katia Brosseau and the gift of giving

Philanthropy benefits mental health resources

  • Nov. 22, 2019 8:19 a.m.

– Story by Kathy Michaels Photography by Darren Hull

Katia Brosseau knows the joy that comes from giving will last longer than the satisfaction of helping build a successful business.

When the director of marketing and client services for Innov8 Digital Solutions sat down to talk, while smack dab in the middle of a busy work day, she radiated happiness by just discussing the concept of giving back.

“It just makes you feel good and so proud,” Katia said, as the conversation about work took a turn toward the topic she’s most passionate about.

She explained that the returns on giving first became apparent while she was living in Alberta. While there, she regularly participated in the annual Festival of Trees event, which is a holiday celebration, defined by community spirit and philanthropic passion.

It’s considered the city’s signature kick-off to the holiday season, raising funds and building community around the hospital foundation.

“Decorated trees are donated by businesses and they get auctioned off,” Katia said. “They have Santa’s workshops, a daddy/daughter dance and so many other things — it’s just an amazing event.”

It gave her an opportunity to step out of her own busy schedule and into something of greater significance to the community. She was able to do it with her young children and husband Andre by her side. They still look back on it fondly and have even continued to take part in a similar event held in Victoria, year after year.

“There really is no greater gift than volunteering and giving back,” she said.

When her family picked up from Alberta and moved to Kelowna, she decided to take the lessons she learned about community to her new home. In the time since she’s arrived, she and her husband have not only built a thriving business but are also leaders in community spirit.

“Small businesses are the backbone of communities. With philanthropy they help provide the support that’s needed when the government can’t,” she said, pointing to the creation of Kelowna’s youth mental health service, the Foundry, as just one example of how citizens working together were able to fill gaps and make the community service stronger.

“You can really see a difference when people come together.”

It’s what prompted her to ramp up philanthropic efforts this summer as she launched herself headlong into what ended up being a major fundraising campaign.

Katia had been at a charity event with her husband and at the end of the night there was a live auction for a private concert with country sensation Aaron Pritchett.

“Get Andre at an auction and it’s a dangerous thing; I don’t even want to go into all the stories. Of course we knew it was for a good cause and we could not help ourselves… Whenever we bid on anything, I think, ‘How can I make it benefit people more than just once?’” she said.

Katia immediately thought she could turn the backyard Pritchett performance into a fundraiser for mental health supports, an issue that is near and dear to her heart.

“Our daughter had gone through a hard time a few years ago, and at that time we didn’t have the Foundry,” she said. “The wait time to see a specialist was over a year. We were fortunate enough to have coverage to be able to access private care, but if we couldn’t … how would you deal with that?”

She asked Pritchett if she could sell tickets to the intimate backyard concert he was going to provide and donate funds raised to the Canadian Mental Health Association and Foundry Kelowna, to help them further knock down the barriers facing young people in need of mental health support.

“We named it Let’s Build Longer Tables, Not Taller Fences,” she said.

“When someone has a mental illness, the stigma is still there, but it should be treated like any other illness.”

She linked together enough tables for 130 guests to take in an intimate concert and together they had a great night of music and camaraderie that generated $45,000 for the two mental health organizations. It was so much more than the $15,000 she had hoped for.

“I can’t recall all the details but Andre started working the crowd and made a deal with one very generous anonymous donor. If we could raise $20,000, another $10,000 would be donated.”

Andre grabbed the mike and the crowd was challenged to raise $20,000.

Many hands went up but they were short just a thousand dollars, and then Jillian Harris texted Katia to say she’d chip in another $1,000. Amazingly, in the spirt of giving, another anonymous donation of $5,000 was received right after that. It was a gargantuan effort that paid off.

“They are all awesome people,” she said, adding that Aaron Pritchett put on an amazing show, as did Scotty Berg, a 12-year-old Kelowna singer.

While so many in the community are inspired by her efforts, Katia hopes it’s the ones who inspire her that will take away the most from it.

“I’m proud my children recognize the value of giving back. If we can find more kindness and be less judgmental, we’ll all be in a better place.”

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

LifeLifestyle

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

The chair and vice chair of Chilliwack’s School Board, Dan Coulter and Willow Reichelt, at a Jan. 29, 2019 meeting. (Sarah Gawdin/ Chilliwack Progress)
Coulter confirms plan to resign from Chilliwack school board if elected

Dan Coulter says ‘it’s a little early’ to call the election, as mail-in votes wait to be counted

Two schools in Chilliwack have sent out notices to parents or been listed on the Fraser Health school exposure event website in the past week. (Pixabay)
Two Chilliwack schools send letters out regarding potential COVID-19 exposures

One public and one private school reporting mid-October exposure events

File Photo
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Agassiz Seniors Community

First declared outbreak in Agassiz-Harrison since pandemic began

The family and friends of Abbotsford resident Kaitlyn Cassels have launched a GoFundMe for her after she suffered serious injuries following a bad fall on Thursday night. (Submitted)
GoFundMe created for Abbotsford woman after horrible fall

19-year-old Kaitlyn Cassels suffers many injuries after falling 27 feet off Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
Police situation leads to ‘hold and secure’ at North Okanagan school

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak forces closure of Kelowna school

The outbreak is the first within B.C.’s school system since classes resumed back in September

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

Braley had bought the CFL team prior to 1997 season

Most Read