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Posted: April 12, 2019

Summit Youth celebrating 25 years in a big way May 4

By Stephanie Stevens

When you have a lot to celebrate, you do it in in a big way.

The Summit Youth Centre Hub in Invermere is having a gala dinner on Saturday, May 4 at the Columbia Valley Centre to both mark its 25th anniversary and to honour resident Debra Fisher for her many years of working with youth.

The event will also launch the Summit’s new focus on youth mental health.

And to kick it off in style, Canadian icon Tom Jackson (The Big Guy) will be there to mingle, speak, sing and add his support to the event.

Jackson is a celebrated actor, musician, activist and long-time advocate of youth mental health and food banks.

And he has a special place in his heart for places like The Summit.

“As soon as I read about this, I knew I had to be there,” said Jackson (pictured above). “I have a history in my younger days that mirrors a lot of the young people that I think probably are being served (by The Summit). There was an organization, a drop-in centre, that fostered relationships, and kindness, compassion… offered opportunities for young people. It created a shift in their lives, a cornerstone, a fortress that amounts to one verb… love.”

The North of 60 star has appeared in multiple movies and television series, most recently recurring roles in Outlander and Cardinal, and Liam Neeson’s 2019 thriller, Cold Pursuit, filmed in and around Fernie.

His 14 albums reflect his first love, music, a love he parlayed into the Huron Carole which for 17 years raised money coast to coast for Canadian Food Banks, as well as the Dreamcatcher tour, which focused on youth mental health and suicide prevention. He has been awarded with several honours, including CCMA, Juno and Gemini Humanitarian awards and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime achievement.

Jackson refers to organizations like the Summit and people like Fisher as bridge builders.

“We all need a bridge from time to time to get from one side of the stream to the other,” said Jackson, “and those who have had the courage, taken the time and commitment to build that bridge, they want to – need to – see it used. It reinforces the purpose of those of us who are caregivers, shows us we have a valid place on earth.”

Debra Fisher

If love were a person, there is a good chance it would look much like Fisher.

This is the fourth annual local celebrity event the Summit has hosted, and society president Sherry Doerr said she is excited Fisher is this year’s local celebrity and that Jackson will be there to celebrate both her and the Summit.

“Each year we choose an individual who has gone above and beyond to inspire and support youth in their journey to adulthood,” said Doerr. “This year we are honouring Debra Fisher. Deb spent many years as one of the Aboriginal Educational Support Workers at David Thompson Secondary School, which has seen the graduation rate for our indigenous youth rise from 20 to over 90%. Additionally, she has formally and informally fostered over 35 youth and has been an ally for many more, as a foster parent, international student parent and youth ally in every sense of the word. Her compassion has been soul food for many youth struggling with issues and a guiding light for many more.”

As for the youth centre achieving the 25-year milestone, Doerr said the Summit’s journey has been aided by many past and present supporters, board members, volunteers and staff.

“We really want to thank all our donors and supporters who recognize the benefits of youth centres… we thank you tremendously. To the District of Invermere and our surrounding communities, the support provided has demonstrated the value youth have in our futures and we thank you for giving us this opportunity. We are passionate about fulfilling the responsibility given to us.”

As for Fisher, those who know her will not be surprised that she is not sure she deserves this recognition, saying she was not alone in any of it.

“We as a family fostered and hosted, not just me,” she said. “That is important for me to mention, as when they were growing up my children gave up a lot. My husband (Ken) is a kind and supportive husband and I couldn’t have done it without them. We did it because it was the ‘right thing to do.’ I was raised that way.”

The evening will commence at 6 p.m. with cocktails and mingling, followed by dinner, speakers and music.

Tickets to the event are $40 per person and are available shortly at Selkirk Cellular and Office supplies, Home Hardware, AG Valley Foods and The Summit Youth Centre. You can also call Summit centre director Kelsey Pritchard at 250-342-3033.

“As we look to our future we are focusing our energies on supporting youth mental wellness,” said Doerr. “Please join us on May 4 as we toast Deb, our youth, their future contributions and our collective support.”

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