They thought they were on a video conference call to talk about their charity and its current focus on youth programming, but three women from Carya were surprised when Canadian professional golfer Mike Weir popped up on their screens.
“Hey guys,” said Weir, rather nonchalantly to his shocked audience.
“I was very starstruck as well and it took a minute to register,” laughed Carya fund development manager Jennifer Moir.
“I couldn’t wait to get off the call to tell my husband,” Carya chief operating officer Carolyn Frew.
Formerly Calgary Family Services, Carya is one of over 200 charities in Alberta that benefit from the Shaw Charity Classic’s (SCC) Birdies for Kids program. Weir would have been in town this week for the tournament had it not been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
A newcomer to the PGA Tour Champions event, Weir would have also been able to deliver his next surprise in person. Instead, he delivered it during the call.
“Ladies, on behalf of the Shaw Charity Golf Classic, I’m proud to donate on their behalf another $10,000 for your foundation, and hope it goes to good use and I know it will,” said Weir, who shares his support for youth mental health initiatives with the group.
“You guys are doing such great work and we thank you,” SCC executive director Sean Van Kesteren said.
Carya has provided counselling and development services to Calgarians of all ages for more than 100 years, but recently turned its focus to its youth and family programming due to the pandemic.
“I think what we’re really seeing is as time goes on that youth and families are particularly struggling with mental health issues,” Frew said.
Frew said Carya moved many of its youth engagement programs to an online platform then added a number of physically distanced outdoor activities to its programming when it discovered youth were yearning for more than what the virtual programs could offer.
“They just really needed to see each other to be able to put eyeballs on their friends and they lit up being able to connect,” Frew said.
“A lot of the funding that we received goes to a program that we call functional family therapy,” Carya Chief Development Officer Jolene Livingston. “It really is a program where we we do support the entire family to be successful in raising youth.
The money donated by Birdies for Kids will help the organization’s planned expansion of its community building and mental health programming when it opens its new centre, Village Commons, early next year.
Weir’s own charitable foundation has also provided support for the construction of a similar centre in his hometown of Sarnia, Ontario.
“Especially with what’s going on right now, it’s a huge factor in helping our kids so I’m super happy what you guys are doing,” Weir said.
So happy in fact, Weir offered to brainstorm with the group from Carya on how it could include golf as part of one of its mentorship programs.
“Holy smokes, happy Friday,” Livingston laughed. “What a gift.”