Charitable Choices: Ed Gavsie of Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives

Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives (RCRG) has been a volunteering network based in Vancouver for over 50 years. They provide direct support through their programs as well as offering indirect support by referring Richmond residents to other community agencies. RCRG offer an array of programs such as Child Care Resource & Referral Centre and Senior Community Support Services to name a few. We spoke with Ed Gavsie, the President & CEO of Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives to learn more about them.

Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives

Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.

For over 50 years, RCRG has been a hub for volunteering and giving, working to connect Richmond residents with meaningful opportunities to support their community.

In addition to our role as an information & volunteer centre, we’re a direct service provider, operating a Child Care Resource & Referral Centre, the Richmond Christmas Fund, and a wide range of Seniors Community Support Services.

Whether by building capacity in the charitable sector, or offering programs that improve the day-to-day lives of Richmond residents, we continually strive to make our community stronger, healthier, and more resilient.

What problem does it aim to solve?

Our work is about bringing people and services together. We want to ensure that Richmond residents – especially those from vulnerable groups – are aware of the programs, resources, and supports available to them.

Richmond has a vast network of community services, which can be difficult to navigate. We’re here to help people find and access programs that will enhance their quality of life.

Of course, we deliver many of those programs ourselves. Through our Child Care Resource & Referral Centre, for instance, we host a variety of free, educational playgroups, and assist parents in finding child care.

Our Seniors Community Support Services are another example. We help older adults stay healthy and independent by offering services like grocery shopping, transportation, and friendly visiting.

Every day, we provide direct support through our own programs and indirect support by referring people to other community agencies. It’s the same dynamic with volunteer opportunities. We recruit volunteers for our own programs, while also assisting the volunteer recruitment efforts of fellow Richmond non-profits.

Keeping people connected and engaged with their community is a constant challenge. Whether they’re seeking help, or want to offer it, our role is to make the process as easy as possible.

When did you start/join it?

I became President & CEO of RCRG in April 2015.

What made you want to get involved?

I have been involved with RCRG since 2004, when the organization was called Volunteer Richmond Information Services. During that time, I served multiple terms on the Board of Directors, including stints as President and Vice President.

I got to see, firsthand, the organization’s impact on the community, and how Richmond residents – from children to seniors – benefitted from the services we offered. I was proud to be a part of it.

In 2015, I was still on the Board, and the organization was undergoing an unexpected leadership transition. To maintain stability, I was asked to become acting Executive Director, a role that was meant to be temporary.

It turns out that “temporary” is a relative term, as I’ve now held the position for nearly nine years. A lot has changed over that period, by I remain as proud as ever of the work we’re doing.

What was the situation like when you started?

When I started, we were in the middle of a major re-branding process, changing our name from Volunteer Richmond to Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives. This was necessary, to reflect a greater focus on supporting the local charitable sector. But it also created a lot of confusion in the community, and while our programs and services hadn’t changed, we had to work hard to re-establish our identity. Despite the upheaval, it was an exciting time to lead the organization, as we were implementing a bold new vision that, in the coming years, would allow us to better serve the Richmond community.

How has it changed since?

In different forms, under different names, RCRG has been serving the Richmond community for over 50 years. This latest chapter has been overwhelmingly positive, and I feel that today, the community embraces our new identity, and that, as an organization, we’ve fully grown into our role as a hub for volunteering and giving.

Our programs and services are responsive and resilient, capable of meeting ongoing and emerging community needs. Most recently, our Richmond Christmas Fund program, which provides grocery vouchers and toys to low-income families, had its busiest holiday season ever, helping 3,920 people.

What hasn’t changed – what’s remained constant throughout our organization’s history – is the incredible support we receive from volunteers, donors, and partner agencies. We wouldn’t be here without them.

What more needs to be done?

The work of community building never stops. We remain focused on growing and supporting Richmond’s voluntary sector, and helping residents find rewarding volunteer opportunities that match their skills and interests.

We’re also committed to strengthening our partnerships with local non-profit organizations. Richmond has hundreds of agencies and community groups doing amazing work in their respective fields. RCRG is here to be a resource – a place organizations can turn for professional development, volunteer recruitment, and other support that will enhance the effectiveness of their services.

As a service provider, we have a responsibility to step up, as much as we can, to meet emerging community needs. We did that with the Christmas Fund this past year, assisting nearly 4,000 residents who couldn’t afford a holiday celebration. We do it every day through our Seniors Community Support Services, ensuring that older adults have access to groceries, transportation, social connection, and other life essentials.

And we do it through our Child Care Resource & Referral Centre, which is constantly developing new and innovative early-years programming.

The Richmond community is diverse and dynamic, and we’re proud to do our part in helping it thrive.

How can our readers help?

There are several ways your readers can support our work. Of course, monetary donations have a huge impact, as they help ensure our services can continue meeting the needs and improving the lives of Richmond residents. Tax-deductible gifts can be made online.

Your readers can also volunteer! Our online database includes dozens of opportunities from organizations across Richmond. In terms of our own programs and services, we’re always on the lookout for Volunteer Drivers who can bring seniors to medical appointments and community activities.

Finally, we’d love for your readers to subscribe to our newsletter. It’s the best way to stay up to date on everything happening at RCRG, from the latest volunteer opportunities to upcoming events to new program offerings.

Do you have any events coming up?

Throughout the year, our Child Care Resource & Referral Centre hosts a variety of workshops for parents and early learning professionals. More information is available here.

On the opposite end of the demographic spectrum, our Family & Friend Caregiver Hub organizes workshops for individuals who provide unpaid care to an older adult living in Richmond. Upcoming topics include armchair yoga, watercolour painting, and healthy cooking. The sessions are free to attend and are offered in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, and other languages. A complete schedule is posted here.

Finally, as Richmond’s Information Centre, we maintain an online Events Calendar, updated regularly with a wide range of community activities. It can be accessed here.

Where can we follow you?

Website | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

It would be too difficult to choose just one charity, so instead, I’ll simply encourage readers to visit our Member Directory. It features nearly 50 organizations of all types and sizes, each doing amazing work in the Richmond community.

Whether you’re passionate about animal welfare, arts & culture, food security, or another cause, the directory is a great place to find organizations that align with your interests and to learn different ways you can offer support.


About Sabrina Greggain-Lord 34 Articles
My name is Sabrina Greggain-Lord and I am a Community Outreach worker for the Vancouver Guardian. I am passionate about writing and bringing recognition to those doing wonderful work within their communities.