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Fighting Homelessness in Our Community, One Night at a Time

MaryAnne Connor & Merinda Widmer
Merinda presents her check to NightShift Founder MaryAnne Connor.

Surrey BC is a city in a period of growth. The third fastest-growing city in Canada, Surrey welcomes more than 1000 new residents every month. It’s affordable housing prices make it a desirable spot for young couples and recent immigrants to set up their home.

But not everyone is benefiting from this economic boom. In Surrey alone, an average of 600 people sleep on the streets every night, in doorways, makeshift shelters, tents, or dilapidated motor homes without heat or plumbing. This number soars to over 2,000 when you count the entire homeless population of the Greater Vancouver area.

Surrey is also the home of Raven Supply. Our head office is located near the rapidly growing Newton area. Our staff live nearby and know the businesses and community first hand. We also try to do what they can to give back to the city when we can. 

Inside Sales Engineer Merinda Widmer kept this in mind when she chose NightShift Street Ministries as the recipient of her Raven Giving Fund donation. 

“I chose NightShift as my non-profit organization because of the amazing things they’re doing for Surrey’s homeless population,” she explains. “At a time when more than 7,000 people in our province are homeless, their services are more crucial than ever.”

NightShift Kitchen
New kitchen facilities at NightShift.

During a 2018 survey of the homeless population in BC, 58% of individuals surveyed reported that they live with two or more medical conditions, while 44% reported one medical condition and 33% reported a physical disability. When it came to mental illness, the numbers were also sobering, with 40% of respondents battling mental health conditions as well as spending cold nights on the street. 

“It’s always surprised me how many misconceptions people have about the homeless community,” Merinda says, adding that she believes that no one is to fault for ending up without a roof over their head. 

“This organization does fantastic things to help our local homeless population,” she continues. “In 2017, NightShift provided 36,500 hot meals, 3,500 warm blankets, 810 safe nights of sleep for women, and 105 evenings of the car bus. All this and more without any government funding.”

Merinda’s Raven Giving Fund contribution of $250.00 will go towards helping NightShift continue this valuable work. Every year, the Raven Giving Fund gives each of our employees $250.00 to donate to a charity or non-profit organization of their choice. Thanks Merinda for being a great community member and an outstanding member of the Raven team!

To find out more about NightShift, please click here. 

Linna Luu Picks the Volunteer Grandparents for Her Raven Giving Fund Donation

Volunteer Grandparents LogoGrandparents play a much more substantial role in children’s lives than simply providing free childcare, according to some recent studies. A 2018 study claims that children who have regular interactions with grandparents have less behavioural problems,  and one from 2014 suggests that kids who have regular interactions with a grandparents are less likely to suffer from depression as adults. 

But in Metro Vancouver, where many young families are far from home and extended relatives, children are often raised with once a week Skype calls as their only contact to grandparents overseas. That’s where the Volunteer Grandparents come in. Volunteer Grandparents is a non-profit organization that connects seniors with some spare time to children in our community who don’t have grandparents nearby. 

Linna Luu knows how important grandparents are in a family from personal experience. 

“My grandparents have made a great impact on my life,” explains Linna. These days, Linna is a Project Engineer at Raven Supply. When it came time for her to make a donation to the organization of her choice through the Raven Giving Fund, Linna wanted to help other kids have the same beneficial experiences that helped her become successful. 

Linna Luu drops off her Raven Giving Fund donation at Volunteer Grandparents.

“I’m positive these Volunteer Grandparents will make a significant difference in the lives of many children,” Linna explains. She knows that like any relationship, the one between child and grandparents is a win-win on both sides.

“I think that seniors often get left behind in our society, and this non-profit provides a way for these seniors to share their knowledge and experience with a younger generation while staying connected with their community,” she adds. 

Volunteer Grandparents runs several programs. The Family Match program matches the volunteer with a family with kids aged 3 to 14 looking for the senior to take part in their family community. The School Grandparents Program connects seniors with elementary students, and the Ambassador program gives seniors the chance to volunteer at summer events. 

But like everything she does, Linna had a very specific plan for her $250.00 Raven Giving Fund donation, and made the decision to direct her support to the Volunteer Grandparents’ Florio Bursary Program

“I specifically chose to support the Florio bursary because of the process required to be eligible for this bursary – the Volunteer Grandparents must provide a written explanation on why the grandchild they recommend should receive financial assistance to help fund an activity such as piano lessons or ski lessons,” she explains.

“This process not only provides a screening process for applicants, but also shows the children that their Volunteer Grandparents think of them and care for them as much as a biological grandparent would.”

Thank you Linna for all your hard work, and for doing what you can to make sure more children have the support they need to achieve their own successes. 

To learn more about the Volunteer Grandparents, please visit www.volunteergrandparents.ca.

Linna and Merinda Visit the Land of the Midnight Sun

 

Downtown Whitehorse YK
Storefronts in Downtown Whitehorse. Photo courtesy of the US Embassy in Canada.

Raven Supply works with consultants and contractors from all across BC and the Yukon. Phone calls and emails are nice, but when we get the chance, we love to travel to meet these partners in person and get to know the city they call home, too.

So when Merinda Widmer and Linna Luu got the opportunity to take a short trip to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territories in June, they jumped at the chance. 

Merinda and Linna, two of our engineers, were especially excited to check in on a few of our boiler projects in person, as well as find out more about this community that Raven Supply works in.

Bryan Boilers at Whitehorse General Hospital
Bryan Boilers at Whitehorse General Hospital.

“We got to see the three Bryans we have at Whitehorse General Hospital,” says Linna. “We also dropped by Yukon College to see how our venting compared to the other stacks.”

Impressed (but not surprised) with how well these projects were holding up, next stop on the agenda was getting to know the people and places of Whitehorse. 

“It was great getting to meet all the consultants, engineering firms and contractors we work with on a regular basis,” explains Merinda. “It’s fantastic to finally put faces to these names we know so well!”

“Everyone was very welcoming and took time out of their schedules to speak with us. The sense of community is very apparent!” adds Linna. 

With a population of around 25,000, a strong sense of community in a smaller city like Whitehorse is to be expected. But our engineers enjoyed the way this community atmosphere existed side by side with bustling downtown core of this Provincial Capital.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of restaurants, cafes, and breweries Whitehorse has to offer,” explains Linna. “Given Whitehorse’s population, I was expecting only a handful of eateries to choose from. Boy was I wrong!”

MacBride Museum
Inside of the MacBride Museum.

In fact, Linna and Merinda found more than enough to keep them busy each of their three days in the city. 

“The MacBride Museum was very interesting to walk through,” recalls Linna. “We were also lucky enough to have Bob Baxter from Yukon Brewing give us a tour of the brewery and show us the engineering that was involved in their process!”

“One afternoon, Linna and I visited the Miles Canyon suspension footbridge and got to see one of the many amazing views Whitehorse has to offer!” says Merinda. 

Miles Canyon
The view at Miles Canyon.

“I’ll remember to bring my hiking shoes and explore some nearby trails on my next visit,” chimes in Linna, laughing. 

No good trip is complete without trying out a few favourite local feasts. 

“Last but not least,” says Merinda, “Trying the famous bread pudding from Klondike Rib & Salmon was definitely a highlight.”

With so many highlights, the time flew by, and soon Merinda and Linna were back on a plane heading home to Surrey BC. But for these avid travelers, another trip to meet our community of suppliers, contractors and clients is surely just a short hop and adventure away. 

 

What do Race Cars and Boiler Technologies have in Common? Nic Sun Explains.

Nic Sun behind the wheel.

Remember Nic Sun? He’s our make-it-happen VP of Engineering with a love of all things high-octane and high pulse rate too (more on that here). 

Well, it turns out Nic is off on another adventure – learning the ins and outs of high speed driving at the Mission Raceway. His specific vehicle of choice to train on is his very own Subaru WRX. 

Nic purchased this 2015 model completely brand new in 2014 following his graduation from the University of British Columbia. Since then he’s been working on upgrades to bring out the best in his vehicle. And like everything else, Nic didn’t just take this task on half way. 

First he changed the air and exhaust ducting, upgraded the turbo controls, and perfected the ECU tuning to improve the engine’s power delivery. Next came upgrades to the brakes, drivetrain mounts, suspension, and differentials.

“These changes came together to bring out the car’s full potential, making it capable of contending with a lot of other higher end sports cars,” explains Nic. “I find it amusing to see the similarities between tuning a forced draft burner and a turbocharged car.”

Looking under the hood of Nic’s 2015 Subaru WRX.

It turns out that these are just a few of the many similarities between streamlining a car’s speed and building a more efficient boiler systems. 

“Efficiency, power output and reliability are all affected by variables like air and exhaust duct diameters, combustion air temperature and pressure, air/fuel ratio, and presence of emissions control devices. The car’s ECU even uses the same data communication protocol that is found in the LMV linkage-less burner control platform!” Nic says, adding “maybe this is why so many burner technicians are also car enthusiasts…?”

All Nic’s hard work came together as he saw just what his newly upgraded and turbocharged vehicle could do on the racetrack. 

Nic and Christina take on the track.

“The track day was loads of fun and taught me a lot about how the car performs at the limit under extreme conditions. It was a very hot day which put a lot of strain on everything so it was a great test of what this Subaru could do ” he says, smiling.

As he pushed that pedal to the metal, Nic’s fiancé Christina also came along for the ride. Used to life at the speed of Nic, she spent the day hanging on for dear life and laughing the whole time. 

The Raven Supply GTM Race Car in action.

Nic shared the track with Tony Pregal of T’N’T Energy Systems. We’re proud to annouce Tony as the driver of a GTM race car sponsored by Raven Supply that proudly sports our logo alongside the logo of Room to Read, a global literacy charity we support with help of our customers and vendors.  We look forward to seeing Tony compete this year, and hopefully take the championship title in 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Ashley Supports The Surrey Women’s Centre

Ashley Donates to the Surrey Women's Centre
Ashley was thrilled to drop off her donation to the Surrey Women’s Center

When it came time for General Manager and Partner Ashley Bouchard to make a choice about how to spend her Raven Giving Fund donation, she knew exactly what to do.

“I chose to donate to the Surrey Women’s Centre- Surrey Mobile Assault response team, because the statistic of 1 out of 3 women who experience physical or sexual assault in their lifetime is too high,” she explains.

“It’s my hope with this program is that women will be able to get out of dangerous situations, and in turn raise healthy, happy, and strong children,” Ashley says. “It’s all about stopping the cycle of abuse and violence. Everyone can use help and these programs help prove that you don’t have to go through this alone.”

Ashley has been a supporter of the Surrey Women’s Centre for the last 7 years. In addition to the Mobile Assault response team, this non-profit organization operates as a crisis centre for women and girls escaping domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence complete with a drop-in centre, workshops, and legal and counselling services .

Ashley first came in contact with the organization when she was looking for some place to donate clothing and household items and came across the Sharing Closet at their Drop-In Centre location. Immediately, she was surprised and impressed by the selection of services this organization provides to women in need.

“What I love about them is that they do not charge the ladies to take clothing and supplies home. They have shopping days on Wednesday where the ladies can come in to a comfortable environment and get the things they need.” Ashley smiles. “They also take children’s items and personal care items as well.”

Like every staff member, Ashley got the opportunity to drop-in and give her donation to the Surrey Women’s Centre staff in person.

“I felt very fortunate to be able to contribute to such a worthy cause in our local neighbourhood. The team at the centre was so welcoming and eager to share stories about the rest of the work that they do,” she recalls.

The Raven Giving Fund gives each member of our Raven Supply team with a $250.00 donation to give to a community group or non-profit they feel passionate about. It’s just part of our way of staying connected to our community, and also supporting our team members in their interests and passions outside of work. Curious? Read more about it here.

The Raven Giving Fund Supports Children and Youth in Foster Care

Day to day, the ins and outs of running a thriving business can distract from the fact that our business is a part of a larger community. One way that our company keeps our connection to our community in focus is through the Raven Giving Fund.

Introduced in 2018, the Fund provides each of our team members with $250.00 a year to donate towards a community group of their choosing. For Office Administrator Megan Davies, this meant giving to a local organization that she holds dear- the S.O.S. Children’s Village in Surrey BC. Megan has a background that includes teaching english to school aged children overseas, so we weren’t surprised when she decided to spend her Giving Fund allotment on programs for children here at home.

A super sized cheque for some super kids. 

“I chose this non-profit because I’m passionate about children and raising kids in a healthy, loving, and safe environment,” she says.

S.O.S. Children’s Village provides Lower Mainland children and youth in care with an alternative model of foster care that operates separate from the provincial system. S.O.S. Children’s Village services includes foster homes, an inclusive and supportive community, and social, art and therapy programs all designed to help foster children and youth grow into caring, self-reliant adults. One of the most unique aspects of this approach is ‘the village’ – a cluster of of 5 foster homes where children live together with adults who care as a community.

“There are thousands of foster children in BC and Canada who aren’t raised in stable environments, and so they don’t get the guidance they need,” explains Megan. “If I can contribute to this group home and positively impact the environment of these children and youth even in a small way, I would be grateful.”

Megan’s contribution of $250 through the Raven Giving Fund can be used to cover the costs for a session of the Village Learning Club– a homework club where foster children can get help from BC Certified Teacher Support as well as enjoy themselves through guided games and physical activities.

A street view of the S.O.S. Children’s Village in Surrey BC.

S.O.S. Children’s Village in Surrey also helps fill another major gap in support many teens in care face when they ‘age out’ of the system, usually when they’re 18. S.O.S. Children’s Village makes sure the youth in their care are ready once it’s their time to strike out on their own with a gradual independence program. Teens start gaining the knowledge they’ll need as adults beginning at 16, and the program culminates with them receiving an “apartment in a box” with many of the supplies they’ll need – including a bed.

Thanks Megan for inspiring us with your charity choice for the Raven Giving Fund! To find out

more about S.O.S. Children’s Village in Surrey and to get involved, visit them online here. 

Meet The Team: Our Exceptional Engineers

Nic, Bennett, Linna, and Merinda of the Raven Supply Engineering Team

Taking a look at our team of engineers, you could easily mistake this bright crew for a group of students. But proving the adage that age has no bearing on one’s success, Raven Supply’s tight team of talented engineers may be young, but offer the right combination of experience and knowledge to stand out as industry leaders.

Shortly after graduating from UBC Integrated Engineering program in 2014, Nic Sun joined our team in the role of an Outsides Sales Engineer. Nic first got to know Raven Supply as a company during his 2012 rotation as our coop students, but these days he’s known around here as the VP of Engineering.

That means that Nic is always in motion- visiting engineering and contractor offices and also working with our clients one-on-one to determine their unique needs. But if you can catch him mid-action, the skills he’s gained through extended service training as well as hands on experience on the job site are a treat worth watching, and his success proves that he’s guiding the engineering team in the right direction.

Nic’s fast upward trajectory speaks to the importance of Raven Supply’s policy on employee growth. Here at Raven Supply, we do the best we can to give our employees the opportunity to flex and grow into the right position for their skills and talents.

Bennett Lee is another example of rising talent that has become an invaluable part of our team.  Bennett Lee came to our company as a coop student in 2007, and then joined our team full time in 2008 after graduating from UBC’s Bachelor of Commerce program.  Initially working with our clients as a Venting Estimator, Bennett quickly graduated to VP of Venting Sales. Now days, Bennett is the one training our incoming co-op students as well as our entire team on the latest and greatest in venting products.

Linna Luu stepped into her role as an Inside Sales Engineer in 2016 after completing her Chemical Engineering degree at the University of Alberta. Linna joined the team at the perfect time, just as we needed a capable new individual to round out our Venting Department. Since then she’s excelled in a series of roles at Raven Supply, demonstrating exceptional technical abilities and close attention to the important small details. Currently in the essential position of Project Engineer, Linna is extremely valuable to our team and to our customers, offering adaptations for each project’s unique needs flawlessly and with ease.

Merinda Widmer also comes to us from the University of Alberta’s Chemical Engineering program. The most recent addition to our Engineering Team, Merinda joined us in 2018 as an Inside Sales Engineer. First hired to support the needs of our many venting customers, Merinda had proven herself to be a valuable all around team member. Now her responsibilities extend to design projects, tanks, and other parts. This quick learner with a keen eye for detail also brings a lovely outgoing personality. We know Merinda is destined for great things, and we can’t wait to see what her future here at Raven Supply holds.

Truly, Raven Supply wouldn’t be the company it is today without these bright and ambitious individuals. A big THANKS to our Engineering Team- we couldn’t do it without you!

Bennett Lee Tests the Potential of the Electric Car

The team at Raven Supply is big on new technology, so when it came time for Bennett Lee to get a new car, it was no surprise that he decided to make the leap and test out the potential of electric vehicles.

Bennett has been driving his 2005 Honda Civic to our Surrey office from his home in South Vancouver since he joined the team in 2008. However, lately, his trusty vehicle has been showing signs that it’s ready to retire to the great compactor in the sky as it trudged along with one working electric door lock and a whopping 300,000 km of driving distance under its hood.

That’s how Bennett came to be the proud owner of a 2019 Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

Bennett’s new Volt can be found at its charging station in the back of Raven Supply’s office.  He can count on 85 km of driving distance on the battery alone but don’t worry; the vehicle has a gas backup of 500 kms for all the venting site reviews with our customers that they have come to count on & appreciate!

If you’re ever in our neighbourhood and need a charge, please stop by. Bennett will be happy to share his charger along with his enthusiasm for the potential of the electric car market.

Raven Supply Aims Its Sights High on Fundraising Efforts for Room To Read Nepal in 2019

Female Nepalese students study at a Room to Read school

At Raven Supply, we’re excited to gear up into another year of fundraising for the outstanding literacy non-profit Room to Read.

Last year, thanks to the support of our customers and vendors, we surpassed our original fundraising goal of $20,000, reaching a total of $24,000 raised, bringing our total amount raised for Room to Read since 2013 to $170,000.

This year, we have our sights set on raising another $30,000 to provide 75 Nepalese girls with scholarships through Room to Read Nepal. Today the charity’s Literacy and Girls’ Education Programs in Nepal continue to make a tangible mark on the educational well-being of Nepali children, although there are still many challenges.

Nepal is a small, landlocked country wrought with political instability and widespread poverty. About 40% of students drop out before finishing the primary grades, and a third of children aged 5 to 14 work instead of attending school. Additionally, the 2015 Nepal earthquake destroyed school buildings across the country, leaving one million students without a place to learn.

Plaque on Room to Read School in Nepal mentioning the support of Raven Supply and its valued suppliers.

Young girls in Nepal face additional barriers to their education because they’re at a greater risk of dropping out due to financial limitations of families and the pressure to marry early. 40% of girls will marry before 18, and this is one reason that the country’s female population is 22% less likely to be literate than their male counterparts.

The only organization in Nepal that focuses solely on literacy and gender equality in education, the Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program has supported nearly 5,000 girls since 2001. The charity has piloted an early warning system to identify students in the program who are at risk of dropping out, allowing for early intervention and support. Early detection allows for social mobilizers in Nepal to visit these girls at home, mentor them, and tutor them on the content of missed classes.

So far, over $2000 has already been raised in 2019 between Raven Supply and our community of customers and vendors for Room to Read Nepal. We couldn’t do it without you!

Room to Read students host visitors at their school in Nepal.

That’s why we love sharing updates and news about just how many scholarships have been raised out personalized thank you letters to our customer and vendor supporters. Additionally, Megan Davies here at Raven Supply will visit the Room to Read Nepal project this year to take photos and report back on all the outstanding work happening there, and we’ll sure to keep you updated here.

Raven Supply Takes on Chicago

Our team in front of the Weishaupt facility.

Recently, the Raven Supply team went to Chicago to learn more about the latest advances in burner technology.

Our trip to the Windy City gave us a chance to do some hands on training at the SSC Combustion for Siemens Controls and Weishaupt USA facilities. The four of us- Bennett Lee, Nc Sun, Merinda Widmer, and Linna Luu- spent time at each facility, touring and learning all we could about various new models on the market.

“The Weishaupt model installed inside the SCC Chicago office was very impressive,” recounts Bennett. “Seeing a red burner on a brochure versus feeling the substantial heft of the material and seeing light bounce off that shiny finish in person is worlds’ apart.”

“We even got the opportunity to ‘service’ the burner where we swung open the burner head hinge. It was very enlightening to see the ease of service and now I understand why service technicians love this aspect of the Weishaupt design,” he adds.

Merinda also appreciated the up close and personal experience that comes with visiting a facility in person.

“At SSC, we spent a lot of time just playing around with the demo machine. It taught me how to navigate the control system and troubleshoot,” she says. “David Lehrer was a fantastic instructor. We learnt A LOT in two days and got to ask question

Cutaway of ignition electrode assembly at Weishaupt USA.

after question!”

Nic was struck by the accuracy and ease of the newest burner technology to hit the marketplace.

“Siemens’ stepper motor actuators have redundant position feedback sensors, accurate to 0.1 degrees of rotation. Because there are 2 sensors, the actuators never require recalibration,” he enthuses.

In addition to our training, we spent some time enjoying the sights of Chicago, and even put in some time trying our luck at the lanes at the famous Pinstripes bowling alley.

“I was surprised by the number of bowling alleys in Chicago, and how up-scale they were!” continues Bennett. “It was fun hanging out with the team and having an upscale dining experience at a bowling alley. Almost placed #1 in the overall bowling score with a 2nd half run but unfortunately I couldn’t complete the comeback!”

Here at Raven Supply, we’re always doing our best to stay up to date on the latest and greatest in burner technology, so that we can bring you the best service possible. Stay tuned for more news on our next adventure!