Kristy Gill joined Variety BC in January of 2016, just in time to dive headfirst into her first, and Variety BC’s 50th Show of Hearts Telethon. Since she joined the organization, many positive changes have happened, new directions and initiatives, with Variety BC on Global BC, Oct 31 – Nov 4 being just one. We invite you to meet Kristy and learn what her innovation and leadership means to kids, families and the future of Tent 47 aka Variety BC!
Q: With all your experience leading non-profit organizations, what drew you to Variety BC?
A: I love the fact that we can make a direct impact in a family’s life. My two children both have Type 1 diabetes and I couldn’t imagine what I would do if I wasn’t able to provide them with the lifesaving medication and supplies they need. It makes me so proud that Variety is able to help ensure parents are able to give their children every chance to strive and that we give kids the opportunities to live their childhood to their fullest potential.
Q: What do British Columbians think about when they think of Variety – The Children’s Charity?
A: I think the first thing people think of is Telethon! The Show of Hearts Telethon is such an amazing event with a rich history of entertainment and sharing of amazing children’s stories! This past year we celebrated our 50th Anniversary of telethon and got to reflect on so many of those stories. But I think in recent years we have become known for so much more throughout the year too! Our Sunshine Coaches, our Variety Cares program, our Gold Heart Dinner and the hundreds of kids we help throughout the province.
Q: Everyone under the age of fifty who grew up in this province has also grown up with Variety. What are your first memories of Variety – The Children’s Charity?
A: Well I spent a lot of time growing up and living with my Grandparents. My grandma loved the telethon and I remember so fondly watching her tap her feet to the entertainment, tear up watching the children’s stories, and then look so excited when the total was announced. It’s a great memory for me.
Q: “Special needs” is a broad term that evokes different things for different people. How would you define “special needs” as it pertains to who Variety BC helps?
A: Well, I think all kids are special in their own unique way – and all kids have different needs But at Variety we have typically helped children who have extra needs and who are unable to get funding for those extra needs. This can include mobility devices, speech therapy, medication, counselling, orthotics, and so much more. I am also very proud that we are supporting a lot more in the mental health realm as well. Kids suffering from anxiety, depression and more also need our support in this young developmental years.
Q: What are some programs Variety BC supports that British Columbians might not know about?
A: I’m not sure what to choose! Everything we have supported this year is so important and unique! There are summer camps – giving kids opportunities to take part in new experiences such as wheelchair paddle boarding, or equestrian therapy. We have supported NICU’s in several of BC’s hospitals. There is a great program in Surrey we supported this past summer called the “Wrap Program” where kids in “high risk conditions” are able to to take part in a program every day of the summer. It helps get them on the right track and support them in making the right decisions. – I love this program! And, you’ll be learning more of it shortly when Variety Week kicks off on Global BC!
Q: Variety BC is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016. What are you most excited about looking ahead to the next 50 years?
A: The sky’s the limit! I have only been with Variety the past 10 months and feel we have done so much for so many kids! I hope to be able to help more kids on an individual basis as well as support more organizations that support our Variety kids. I also want to share all these amazing stories with our donors and let them know how truly grateful we are for them. Without these donors we wouldn’t be able to help any of BC’s kids!
Q: What’s new with Telethon for 2017?
I am so excited about Variety Week! In partnership with Global BC we will be celebrating some of BC’s special kids that we featured on last year’s Telethon and introducing new stories! Also the BC government has proclaimed the week of October 31 – November 6 2016 – “Variety Week”. This will be so exciting as we feature stories on all Global newscasts between October 31-November 4, 2016. Then Telethon will take place on Sunday, February 12, 2017 and will update on our Variety Week kids!
Kristy Gill is the CEO at Variety – The Children’s Charity of BC. She has worked with numerous other non-profit organizations, most recently Lions Gate Hospital Foundation and Cystic Fibrosis Canada. Kristy is a proud mom with two kids, aged 13 and 10. Both Kristy’s kids have Type 1 Diabetes and this makes her even more passionate about Variety’s work for families. Kristy holds a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation, and a Non-Profit Management Associate Certificate from BCIT. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) where she has taught sections of the Fundamentals in Fundraising Course, and represents the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce as its 2nd Vice President. Learn more about her on LinkedIn.