It’s world kindness day, so tonight the Joseph Richard Group team will sleep outside to raise money for Covenant House, to help at-risk youth. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Team sleeps outside Langley pub to help homeless youth

Joseph Richard Group staff experience life on the streets by camping out at Oak & Thorne.

LATE BREAKING CHANGE:

Due to the severe weather tonight, part of team will only be at the Langley’s Oak & Thorne until 9:30 p.m. tonight.

At that time, they’ll move to the South Surrey location of S+L Kitchen & Bar, 16051 24th Ave., which offers a parkade option to held minimize the impact of the high winds, said spokesperson Greg Descantes.

“Sorry to do that, but we had no choice,” he said. “The weather is so rough, all their tarps are blowing away.”

He went on to say there was a plus side.

Despite the weather, there are 94 sleepers involved, and they’ve now surpassed the $89,000 mark in fundraising.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

As the weather continues to turn ugly tonight, think how a number of Joseph Richard Group staff are feeling as they prepare to sleep on the street in front of the Oak & Thorne restaurant.

They’re braving these harsh elements to help raise money for homeless youth.

The restaurant chain has long been a supporter of Covenant House, and some of the management team has participated in the Vancouver Sleep Out in past.

But this time out, they’re bringing the fundraiser closer to home, hosting three different Sleep Outs in the Valley, specifically South Surrey, Maple Ridge, and Langley.

About 100 JRG staff will be participating throughout, about 30 of them at the Langley location, said spokesman Greg Descantes.

Last year, the team hoped to raise $13,500. Turns out they collected more than $35,000.

Already this year, and the night has yet to begin, the team has raised close to $80,000 for the cause, which Descantes said would set a JRG team record for Covenant House and the at-risk youth they help.

With approximately 950 people employed at 20 JRG public houses, restaurants, and liquor retail outlets in British Columbia and Alberta, more than 100 employees are expected to spend tonight sleeping on the street, said JRG co-founder Ryan Moreno.

Then, three days later (on Thursday, Nov. 16), Moreno, fellow co-founder Andre Bourque, as well as chef Matthew Stowe will take part in the downtown Vancouver Sleep Out–Executive Edition at Covenant House.

For Moreno, community philanthropy is an important part of JRG’s corporate philosophy, as well as its success.

Individual JRG establishments are each involved in neighbourhood events, fundraisers and charities, and being BC’s fastest growing food, beverage and entertainment organization provides JRG with additional opportunities to support the communities it serves.

“We are all fortunate to have a roof over our head and a bed to sleep in,” Moreno said.

“Last year, Matt and I spent a cold night on the street and got a glimpse into what a night is like for those who are less privileged. We also learned a great deal about the important work Covenant House does and how they support at-risk youth from around the Lower Mainland.”

It’s a cause that struck a chord with the men, their guests, and their staff – whose ages are largely the same as the young adults Covenant House helps,” Moreno explained.

“I was so moved by the experience and felt that there had to be more that we could do.”

This year, they strove to do more.

“We plan to make this an annual event and our hope is to also inspire other businesses, organizations and people within our communities to get involved,” Moreno added.

Each year Covenant House Vancouver provides shelter, food, clothing and counselling to 1,400 young people through its daily drop-in, street outreach, and residential programs.

Because Covenant House is 94 per cent privately funded, its Sleep Out events play a critical role in supporting its youth crisis program, which provides 35 beds for males and 24 beds for females.

“Our work, and the support of companies like the Joseph Richard Group make a tremendous difference in the lives of street youth in BC,” said Krista Thompson, covenant’s executive director.

“We admire their commitment and creativity, and encourage their friends, families and patrons to support this worthwhile cause,” she said.

To raise funds, JRG is accepting donations online or at any of the locations, including the Oak & Thorne at 20169 88th Ave. in Walnut Grove, from 7 p.m. Monday until 7 a.m. Tuesday.

JRG has been encourage donations by providing donors with a $25 gift card for every $50 donated.

Additionally, for any donations of $1,000 or more, JRG is offering a dinner for up to six guests, hosted by the company’s director of culinary operations, chef Matthew Stowe (Top Chef Canada winner) or JRG’s corporate chef David Jorge (Masterchef Canada winner).

JRG operates S + L Kitchen & Bar, Townhall Public House, Oak & Thorne Pub, and the upcoming The Italian Osteria & Cheese Bar.

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