October 5, 2021 (Vancouver, BC) – The BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF) is delighted to announce that it has given a total of over $1 million to hospitality and tourism workers facing financial crisis due to a health condition experienced by themselves or a family member. Beneficiaries of the charity include not only restaurant chefs and servers, hotel workers, and baristas, but many behind-the-scenes workers such as delivery drivers, sales representatives, writers, brewmasters, winemakers, and vineyard workers.

The BCHF was created in 2006 in response to the situation of longtime local wine agent Michael Willingham. When Willingham had a stroke that left him partially paralyzed, his friends and colleagues rallied around him, raising $50,000 to purchase a machine that would enable him to breathe at night. Willingham was deeply grateful for the assistance, but he also recognized that there were many others in the hospitality industry who needed help, so he requested that a charity be set up to assist those in need. In the past 15 years the BCHF has provided financial assistance to 254 people.

Over the years the BCHF’s mandate has expanded to include a scholarship program to foster the development of the next generation of hospitality industry workers and leaders. The charity has now given over $230,000 to more than 260 students, providing tangible support that shows we value our homegrown talent.

BCHF Executive Director Dana Harris says the organization “is based on the idea that we in the hospitality and tourism industry work together to help our own. We couldn’t have reached this significant milestone without the support of everyone in the hospitality and tourism sector, as well as our Board members and many volunteers. Thank you!