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Veterans band together to raise money for a local mental health centre

Valley Veterans based out of the Ottawa Valley in Eastern Ontario have donated their work to help raise money for a registered charity that focuses on mental health services for youth. 

The idea originated from a veteran that is part of the artist group. He wanted to have his art “put to better use than to be stored in his basement,” said Marillyn Saffery, art therapist.

“Glen, one of my veteran art therapy clients, came forward a short while ago and offered to donate paintings that he painted at home to sell to benefit a good cause,” said Saffery. “This gesture was the kernel of the thoughts and plans that led to the idea of an art auction.” 

“The veteran community, having experienced the highs and lows of life, understands the value and need of continuing mental health support,” said Saffery. 

Saffery points out Valley Veteran Art artist Derrick Nearing, and Robbie Dean Centre founder Monique Yashinskie, have helped co-ordinate the action. 

“As a result, we set up a veteran initiative, an Online Art Auction with plans to donate the entire proceeds to the Robbie Dean Centre here in Pembroke,” said Saffery.

The centre relies heavily on financial donations it receives through the events it runs throughout the year. 

However, the centre has not raised the funds it typically raises during the spring months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few of the items created by Veterans up for grabs to help raise fund for the Robbie Dean Centre in the Ottawa Valley.

With the pandemic having been very stressful for individuals and communities, leaving many feeling isolated, Saffery noted people who already experience anxiety have found the last few months difficult. 

“But, it is also very common for people to display great resiliency during times of crisis as well. This is absolutely the time to be there for each other, emotionally, if not physically, to support and reach out and prepare for the future. The veteran community, having experienced the highs and lows of life, understands the value and need of continuing mental health support,” said Saffery. 

Rwanda Veteran Nearing noted, the auction has Veterans that have been through post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) coming together. 

“I think it’s a wonderful way for Veterans who have been through PTSD and other mental health issues to come through these times and then do something positive for our Ottawa Valley Community,” noted Nearing. “Have a look at some of the art, it’s beautiful, and even though many of us are not professional, it’s the message within each piece that carries so much meaning.”

“Have a look at some of the art, it’s beautiful, and even though many of us are not professional, it’s the message within each piece that carries so much meaning,” noted Nearing.

The auction wraps up June 15, 2020. 

“My hope is that The Robbie Dean Centre will benefit financially, as well as, personally, and that they feel the grassroots support that is driving this auction,” said Saffery. 

She added, “I am, as always, grateful to Derrick and to Monique, who have been pivotal in this endeavour. It’s been a learning curve for us all.”

The silent art auction is being held on Facebook from June 1, 2020, until midnight, June 15, 2020. 

For more information or to take part in the action, visit the auction’s Facebook page here. To learn more about the Robbie Dean Centre visit here

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