Odd Squad Productions (OSP) held their 15th Annual Fundraiser Gala this month and sold out at over 1000 guests. The Vancouver Convention Centre was overflowing with black ties and evening gowns, with everyone looking chic as they perused the silent auction and sipped on a glass of wine. The large support was shown through people of all ages, social statuses and races including many from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD).
What began as a community of volunteer police offers determined to beat work on the East side of Vancouver in 1997, is now an organization at the forefront as a highly regarded resource directed at prevention education and awareness for youth. They began using the scare tactic with the debut of their award-winning “Through a Blue Lens” production. Take a moment to watch the film and you'll understand the effect it can have. Since then, they have grown to incorporate many educational videos and peer-to-peer programs in an effort to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble.
After a walk down the red carpet with the VPD lining each side, the night unfolded in to an evening of entertainment, education and eating. There was a special marine unit show in the surrounding harbor, as well as traditional Chinese dancing by the Public Dreams Performance group.
An overcast but warm night brought many out on the veranda to sip on their wine or enjoy a chilled cocktail or beer as they were entertained. Once inside the ballroom The Odds, a Vancouver-based alternative rock band, played their hearts out on stage with a beautifully illuminated backdrop.
When the program began and after the initial introductions, Launa Hinton led the national anthem wowing the crowd with her small stature but her big and beautiful voice. Many speakers ensued, including Chief Jim Chu, who spoke on behalf of the Vancouver Police Department, as well as OSP members Al Arsenault and Jim Byrnes, and Whistling Bernie Smith, an original Odd Squad Member famous for his unorthodox policing and whistling ways. He's well known for his song Thin Blue Line and the documentary titled "Whistling Smith" in which he walks the Downtown Eastside in 1975. He was honored on stage that night with a hug and a screening of an Odd Squad Production featuring him, the Odds and Jim Byrnes.
Laura, a Grade 10 student who participated in the On Track Peer to Peer Program, spoke to the crowd explaining her experience with the VPD and Odd Squad Productions. She is a huge advocate for the program and has spoken on multiple occasions to peers and large groups like there was at the gala.
Mayor Gregor Robertson made an appearance and stayed for most of the night, mingling and munching with the rest of us.
Our three course dinner that night was served with Stimson Estate Cellars wine from the Columbian Valley.
Thin slices of maplewood smoked chicken breast atop a dupuy lentil salad with a red pepper rouille dressing