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What does it take to be a great hostess? My mother was, and still is, one. The recipe is: take a mixed bag of people and throw them in a room with wonderful food, good music, cocktails, and a great cause.
How do you see your charitable work in the city? Leading by example. I was in my thirties when I started my charity and there’s a new group of thirty-year-olds getting involved now. It’s all about educating young people to know that they can make a difference. It’s not always about money. It could be donating clothing or feeding the hungry or donating your time.
What inspired you to found your own charity? When I was living in Los Angeles in the 1980s, I went to a gala called Share. It was a great event, a lot of fun, and they raised a lot of money and shared the proceeds with worthwhile organizations. When I moved back to Vancouver, I decided to do something similar.
Why is your charity called Face The World? There are world issues everywhere: poverty, starvation, abuse. We face those issues in our own backyard.
Why do you do it? It’s my pleasure to give back to the city that has been so good to my family. In 1991, it started with about 80 people, including my friend Tom Jones. We had an intimate evening outside my home and raised $80,000. This year we raised over a million dollars.
What do you think is going to happen to the Downtown Eastside? You mean Vancouver’s Soho? It’s already starting to happen. I’ve grown up there, so I can feel the synergy, the vibrancy in that area. What’s coming is exciting-I’m excited to be a part of it.
Do you have a vision for redevelopment of the Lonsdale Block, home of your flagship Army & Navy store? Well, when I close my eyes I envision a couple of towers with the beautiful facade of the Lonsdale building. I see social housing, perhaps a mini-commercial development. I still see an Army & Navy, and maybe other retailers as well. So yes, I do have a grand vision.
So we can put to rest rumours that you’re contemplating selling some of your real estate holdings? My buildings are part of my heart and soul, and I hope to turn them over to my daughter to continue the tradition started by my Grandfather Sam. It’s not just business; it’s my family’s legacy. Continuity is my end game.
You’ve suffered your share of tragedy, losing your brother Jeffrey to an overdose and your sister Karen to a car crash. How did that affect you? Losing such special people so early makes you realize how short life can be. And how important it is to seize the moment.