“It’s a struggle to lift oneself out of poverty. Some people think that poverty is something of one’s choosing, but it’s not. It’s multiple factors beyond people’s control, not a lifestyle choice.”
A Vancouver businessman with a history of charitable endeavors, Ray Bergen, President of Canreal Management Corporation is the Greater Vancouver Food Bank’s most generous monthly donor. As someone who experienced extreme food insecurity as a child, Ray holds a deep connection to the work we do, providing healthy food to those in need. He grew up in a large family as 1 of 9 children. There were only a few days each month with well balanced, healthy meals for everyone, and the rest of the time they survived mainly on potatoes and bread, with his Mum baking 12 loaves at a time to try and fill the children up.
Today, Ray’s philanthropic work extends beyond the GVFB. With a particular focus on children’s needs, breakfast programs in schools, and eradicating poverty, he and his circle of friends have raised significant donations for their chosen charities. He also understands what it means to run a charity, spending two to three hours each day on his overall charitable endeavours. He says it feels important to give back at this point in his life now, that he’s able to do so.
“If you can afford to provide that sustained funding you should do it,” Ray says. “That’s the most impactful. It’s not just once a year at Christmas time. Poverty exists every day. It’s so gratifying to spend time and money on charitable activities, especially when you roll up your sleeves and get involved.”
In addition to being our champion monthly donor, Ray has left us speechless on more than one occasion by presenting us with a very large gift. The first time he did this was a few days after he came in to the GVFB for a tour of our operation. He simply said, “I was thinking about it, and I thought you could use this.” To this day, our COO Cynthia Boulter gets choked up when she remembers that moment.
Donations like Ray’s go such a long way to help support critical monthly programs such as our Pre-Schooler Packs for children from 2 – 5 years old, and our Grade Schooler Packs for children from 6 – 12 years old.
It takes a community to carry out our mission of providing healthy food to those in need, and our monthly donors are a key part of that mission. Thank you Ray and Canreal for your generous contributions to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and our community!