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The IdeaWith a video camera in hand and a desire to make a short film on the realities of drugs and the drug addicted, off-duty Vancouver police officers Al Arsenault and Toby Hinton set out to make Through a Blue Lens to start a conversation and inspire kids to make positive life choices.The ResultsTheir debut film would be seen by thousands of students, and Odd Squad Productions was born. Since 1997, the society has produced a library of award-winning documentaries and videos to help youngsters understand the stark realities of drugs and gang life, keep them off the street and drive change.The PartyMarking Odd Squad’s 20th anniversary, society president Diana Zoppa and Chief Constable Adam Palmer fronted the firm’s Back on Track Gala at the Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront. Hundreds convened to raise a glass to the society’s efforts, fund more productions and hear from the evening’s keynote, Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Scott Oake, who candidly shared the loss of his eldest son, Bruce, to drugs.
The CauseFor 25 years, Mission Possible has been helping those burdened with the hardships of living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, one of the country’s poorest and toughest neighbourhoods. Working with businesses and community organizations, the social agency strives to support residents who face barriers to employment and provide them with opportunities to achieve a renewed sense of dignity and purpose through meaningful work.The RoomAs a roaring ’20s-themed affair, the Hyatt Regency ballroom was transformed into a spectacular speakeasy where Mission Possible CEO Matthew Smedley and an influential gala committee welcomed some 300 revelers who came ready to party, imbibe and celebrate the registered charity’s many achievements.The HighlightIn addition to collecting $176,000 from various fundraising games, the memorable night saw Downtown Eastside residents Violet Bittern, Mike Divine, Kelsey Duncan and Chris Reed cited with Mission Possible’s Comeback Awards for their dogged determination, courage and faith in overcoming great challenges and adversity.