Getting into the Swing of Sleep Out

On a hot and sunny Saturday in August, CHV’s Sleep Out team arrived at the Fraserview Golf Course. They weren’t there to play, they were there to support The Takahashi Group Charity Invitational golf tournament.

The Takahashi Group Charity Invitational golf tournament is a fundraising initiative created by Kevin Takahashi. Kevin is a financial planner with RBC Royal Bank and has been with that organization for 17 years. This year marks the 10th anniversary of this tournament. This year also marks Kevin’s 10th anniversary of being involved with CHV’s Sleep Out: Executive Edition. So, how did this tournament come to be?

RBC and the RBC Foundation are known for their community involvement, initiatives, and support. They have been a supporter of CHV for over 20 years. On one occasion, the RBC Foundation was scheduled to present a cheque to CHV, but the manager who usually carried out this duty was out of town, so Kevin was asked to make the presentation.

As Kevin was leaving CHV, a staff member offered to give Kevin a tour, whenever he was available. A few weeks later, Kevin took that staff member up on their offer and came to learn more about our organization. “I saw how important the work that was being done was. Most people, myself included at the time, they kind of just equate CHV to a shelter. And I’m sure that’s the stigma, that’s what people think and obviously it’s much more than that. And so, I learned that and I said, ‘This place is pretty important.’”

Kevin organized clothing drives and other initiatives to become more involved with CHV. Entering into its third year, the Sleep Out: Executive Edition team asked Kevin if he wanted to become involved. Kevin agreed to participate in the fundraiser, and to help him raise funds to participate Kevin brainstormed his own fundraising idea and came up with the golf tournament. “It was something I just floated by some good friends of mine. I said, ‘Would anyone be interested in a golf tournament?’ and everyone put their hand up. So, I threw it together in a month and it went well. We raised a couple thousand dollars. And then, after it was done, I had people asking me about the next year. And so, I kind of had to keep going and it just grew, and it’s grown over the years.”

The goal is to have 18 teams, which is 72 players. This year we have 56 players, so 14 teams, which is a good number.” Kevin explained that now that the world has opened up again, many people from Kevin’s network couldn’t make it because they were on vacation at the time of the tournament.

“I know everyone who’s here from my network and it’s just a really good group of people that come every year. Everyone has a great time and it’s super casual and people have enjoyed it. And now, people just want to be involved. So, I don’t have a problem getting people to come because everyone wants to come back.”

“I am lucky to have the support I have from my family and from the firm [RBC] and others. And even though it’s not an RBC event per se, I have full support from them, and a lot of people come to the tournament from there.”

Not only does RBC support Kevin’s fundraiser, but members from the bank, including Regional President Martin Thibodeau, participate in Sleep Out. “He [Martin] didn’t hesitate, which was amazing because he is so involved in the business community and the community at large.”

Kevin believes that the Sleep Out events are important, not only for the awareness that they bring, but also for the funds that they bring in, so that CHV can keep running the programs and services that it does. “The astounding thing about the organization is how much of it is privately funded and most people don’t realize that.”

From a community perspective, Kevin believes that organizations, like CHV, are so important because they get youth off of the streets, make sure that they’re safe, and help them work through their traumas and gain valuable skills that will help them follow their dreams. “

“Also, a kid shouldn’t be on the street, they should be a kid. And a lot of these kids, they’re leaving worse situations at home and the street is better than that, which is wild. And so, this organization helps those kids, when they find their way in there, to be able to be a kid and be safe. I have two little kids. I like to think that I am doing everything right in raising them, but you never know. And so having a place like this around for them, hopefully they never need it, but if they did, I’m glad that this place is here.”

What’s it like to sleep outside for a night? “I mean it’s not comfortable. It doesn’t get any easier physically, no matter how many times you’ve done it. The first time is always the hardest, more mentally, because it’s not even the sleeping outside itself, but it’s leading up to it, because you don’t know what to expect. And when you start to really look at the following day, trying to function is where it really hits, because you’re tired, you’re sore, even if you’ve gotten some sleep, you’re just not fully functioning. And then to go and have to execute daily functions your life and your job, it’s a struggle. And that was one night, whereas the night before I had a great sleep.”

“I know people who have done it and they turn around and say, ‘Wow, that was an experience. I’m never doing that again!’ And I have others who are like, ‘I’m coming back because I get perspective every year.’”

Sleep Out: Executive Edition is happening on Thursday, November 16th. If you would like to support Kevin, another Sleep Out participant, or you would like to donate to Sleep Out, you can do so here.

Best of luck this year, Kevin, and we hope that you get some sleep.