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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. 

From Iowa to BC, Industrial Steam is here!

Deaerators, boiler feed systems, blowdown separators and more.

Here at Raven Supply, we’re always excited to connect with new suppliers. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce a new partnership with Industrial Steam.

industrial Steam Accumulator
Industrial Steam Accumulator

Industrial Steam is a longstanding engineering and manufacturing company known for their exceptional catalog of boiler heaters and ancillary equipment that includes state-of-the-art deaerators, wet steam accumulators, and feedwater, blowdown, and fuel oil systems.

Jet Spray Deaerator
Industrial Steam Jet Spray Deaerator

Established in 1952, Industrial Steam was born out of a spirit of invention by self-taught engineer Martin “Mike” Bekedam and by Jim Williams, who joined the company early on. Together, they perfected their boiler systems to serve a huge variety of customers that included wineries, meat processing facilities, and tomato processing plants. Together they built and perfected customized boilers, burners, deaerators and chemical feed systems.

It was in this way that from its earliest days, Industrial Steam distinguished itself as an early adopter of technology and an innovator in the industry. So it was no surprise to us that its product line includes some cutting-edge offerings. For example, the one-of-a-kind Industrial Steam Jet Spray deaerator offers new potential for boiler protection by using a 2-stage process to remove atomized water in order to reduce oxygen in boiler systems. And Industrial Steam’s sturdy skid-mounted oil pump sets and day tanks for ring main distribution systems offer built to use filtration systems that automatically filter and chemical treat the fuel to remove water, microbes and solids which are discharged into a containment tank.

Industrial Steam is based in Atlantic Iowa, and we’re sure happy to bring their product line up to our Surrey BC warehouse for our commercial and industrial customers in BC and the Yukon.

 

Nic Sun Shares His Love of the Outdoors Through the Raven Giving Fund

Nic Sun gives his cheque to the VASS
Nic Sun visits the VASS to drop off his Giving Fund donation in person.

As VP of Engineering, Nic Sun gives his all to every project he takes on. That means that Monday to Friday, Nic is ready, energized and enthusiastic about every proposal or client plan that he dives into. On the weekend, Nic finds another way to get his energy out- by making the most of the outdoor activities offered by the incredible mountains, lakes and oceans surrounding Greater Vancouver.

So when it came to deciding where to send his Raven Giving Fund donation, it seemed only natural that Nic would pick an organization that helps make the great outdoors accessible to everyone. That’s why, this year, Nic selected Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports (VASS) to as recipient of his Raven Giving Fund donation. Introduced in 2018, the Fund gives each of our employees $250.00 a year to donate to the charity or community group of their choice.

“Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports enables persons with disabilities to access the mountain experience, allowing them to discover their unique capabilities with the assistance of coaches and mentors,” he explains.

“Skiing and mountains have been a huge part of my life since birth. To me, nothing else in the world delivers a greater sense of freedom, joy and self-expression,” he adds. “These are all fundamental parts of the human experience that I believe all people are entitled to.”

Nic’s donation will help support VASS’s ski and snowboard programs for people living with physical and intellectual disability. This non-profit, membership based organization is run entirely by volunteer instructors who offer snowboarding, skiing, and sit-skiing classes for students of every level and any age group. 

Every instructor is Canadian Adaptive Snowsport (CADS) certified, and is dedicated to working side by side with VASS members to help them achieve their athletic goals. For some more serious members, that means preparing for races as a member of the VASS Blue Streaks Adaptive Alpine Racing Program. The Blue Streaks practice twice a week and enter general races hosted by the Grouse Mountain Tyee Ski club.

VASS also hosts the annual VASS Cup event. The VASS Cup features snowboard, ski and sit-ski races, along with sledge hockey, an adaptive snow sports experience zone, a silent auction, and even a costume contest! This year, more than 300 people came out for this event, which raised $83,000 for VASS’s programs. You can check the VASS Cup in the media here.

Thanks Nic, for letting us know about this cool organization. To find out more, visit www.vass.ca.

Raven Supply Hits the Road (Again)! Making Visits to Our Friends in Michigan and Indiana

Linna and Merinda poise outside the Niles Factory in Michigan

This April, two of our team members headed south to spend time getting know the people behind the products we support.

Inside Sales Engineer Merinda Widmer and Project Engineer Linna Luu hopped on a plane heading to the Midwest of the good ol’ U.S. of A to stop in and visit two of our vendors.

First stop was Niles Steel Tanks in Niles, Michigan. Niles Steel Tanks fabricates custom built pressure vessels for a variety of industries, and we often use their products on commercial and institutional projects throughout BC.

“We were very impressed at just how organized this factory is, especially with so many things going on,” remarked Merinda. A highlight of the visit was seeing the process it takes to make the Ultonium™ glass lining that Niles uses for their hot water applications.

Tanks being manufactured at Niles Steel

“It was fascinating to see the vessels being fired at 1500° F, the melting point of Ultonium™, and then “soaked” at that temperature for a period of time, which bonds the Ultonium™ to the steel substrate,” she says.

Merinda and Linna were also amused by a blast from the past when their guide Terry shared some photos from the earliest days of Niles Steel Tanks. The photos showed tanks being built from the ground up in the back of trucks! Even more remarkable though is previous owner Jerome C. Woods’ legacy of helping to develop the ASME code that is now a standard required of all boiler supplies.

Niles Steel tanks wait to be shipped in Michigan

Next up on the itinerary was a quick road trip south to Peru, Indiana, home of the Byran Steam factory.

Bryan Steam has been in the steam business for more than 100 years, and is the leader in flexible water tubing. In fact, their flexible water tubes were a staple of steam operated tractors- that is, until motors overtook this market.

These days, Bryan Steam has transformed their water tube technology into leading boiler products. Bryan Steam has an advantage over other boiler manufacturers because they manufacture boilers that can be disassembled at the factory and the reassembled at their final destination. This is especially important in locations with restricted space, for example when a contractor needs to replace a boiler in a mechanical room with limited access.

Linna and Merinda stand outside the Bryan Steam factory in Peru, Indiana

“Visiting Bryan was such a good experience,” says Linna. “Witnessing a knock down boiler in person really makes you appreciate all the work that goes into manufacturing a flexible tube boiler.”

But Merinda and Linna weren’t just sightseeing- they were at Bryan Steam with a specific project in mind.

An inside view of the Bryan flexible tube boiler

“Bryan Steam is providing the knock down boiler we’re using in our retrofit project with Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital. This is the first time we’ve used one of these knock-down models,” explains Linna. Linna and Merinda were there to learn first hand the ins and outs of knocking down and reassembling the Bryan Steel boiler for this project. To find out more about our involvement in this rural healthcare initiative, please click here.

Their time in Peru, Indiana wasn’t all work though- the Bryan Steam team took our Raven Supply roadtrippers out for a meal.

“For lunch, we enjoyed a favourite local restaurant, where we were introduced to the famous pork tenderloin sandwich,” recalls Linna, laughing.

Now Merinda and Linna are back, and armed with even more knowledge to bring to our projects and customers. Feel free to ask them more about their travels next time you’re in the office.

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. 

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.