For Okanagan philanthropist Tom Budd, talking honestly about his life and the tragedies he has experienced isn’t easy.
After losing both of his sons to suicide in 2015 and 2017, he shifted his focus to mental health initiatives. It is one of the reasons he is sharing his journey of healing and hope at the Penticton Youth Resource Centre fundraiser on April 17 at Poplar Grove Winery.
“You have to be able to sacrifice a part of yourself to give to others,” said Budd.
He spends a fair bit of his time attending functions, talking to groups, hosting or speaking at events, all on behalf of his work with the Thomas Alan Budd Foundation. Previously one of Canada’s top investment bankers, the philanthropist said there are times he needs to step back to assess and nurture his own mental health.
“I’ve learned the hard way that any time you allow yourself to be as open as I want to be, or as vulnerable as I can be when I’m giving a presentation or a talk, it takes something out of you,” said Budd.
“But I’m trying to show people how to share and I’m trying to show other people it’s OK to express their feelings. And when that’s done I’m usually physically exhausted for one or two days, and it has its emotional toll. So I have to be careful with that.”
Originally only supporting a sliver of mental health initiatives when he started the foundation, he has stepped up his commitment and awareness in the past year and a half.
Budd toured the new Penticton Youth Resource Centre and Foundry Penticton at 501 Main St. in early April and said it’s not something he’s used to seeing. The centre will be a hub of collaborative youth services and resources for youth aged 12 to 24 and their families.
“I really enjoyed it. I was quite inspired by the fact that the community has been so involved, especially at the municipal level of government,” said Budd. “I’m not used to seeing that to such an extent … in other charities that I’m involved with.”
He plans to detail his life story at the fundraiser event for the youth centre in a summary manner, including the heartbreak of losing his two sons.
“My goal—obviously they’re looking to raise money for the Foundry, which is great—is to bring awareness to mental health issues in plural, with an emphasis on depression and suicide,” said Budd. “And because I try to be open, I want to try and reduce the stigma so other people can talk about their feelings and their issues and their challenges. So maybe teaching people to have a better emotional and healthy life. And then of course to raise some money for important initiatives. That’s why I speak, for all of those reasons, not just one.”
Tickets for the fundraiser are $50 each and are available online through eventbrite.com.
The event, for people 19 years of age or older, also features singer Jessica Singleton, a silent auction and live art by local artist and co-owner of the BeeLong Gallery, Jenny Long. Attendees are encouraged to carpool as the venue features limited parking.
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