Million dollar idea: OC alumnus creates a charitable gala in time of need

By Public Affairs | April 14, 2020

Drew Vincent
OC alumnus, Drew Vincent

OC alumnus, Drew Vincent knew he wanted to bring the community together during a global quarantine. His challenge: how to hold an in-person online and still generate the kind of participation needed.

His ingenuity and the community’s generosity yielded results that surpassed expectations. In just five days, his idea turned into a $20,000 donation to help the Okanagan community during COVID-19. The event also laid the groundwork for an even bigger charitable effort on May 2.

A graduate of the College’s Bachelor of Business Administration program, Vincent is the creative mind behind the Stay at Home Gala which launched March 27. The event was organized by a group of people from the Okanagan with the intent of bringing everyone together during what has been a hard time for many people.

“The positive response we have received is a testament to our community’s values,” says Vincent. “We started calling it social distancing at its finest, but we might have to change that to community at its finest.”

The first-of-its-kind event hosted all the familiar elements of a gala: optional dinner from a local restaurant (delivered to your door), game-changing speakers, including Lane Merrifield, an Okanagan College Honorary Fellow and the newest “dragon” to join CBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den and more. There were over 200 Okanagan households that participated.

Tickets were sold at three different price levels, starting at $25, with all funds going to the Community Foundations of the Okanagan which will direct funds back into the most in need charities from the Okanagan community.

“During times of uncertainty, I was so heartened to see OC alumni stepping up to think creatively about how they could create some much needed help, and promote connection in our community,” says Dr. Kyleen Myrah, Professor at Okanagan College. “Drew has always had a passion to use his talents to help others and despite just coming back to Kelowna, he did not hesitate to step up and make this happen.”

Vincent and team’s goal was to reach $20,000, of which they reached $22,270 in just five days.

Now Vincent and team are looking at moving to a national level and encouraging people to set up their own Stay at Home Gala in their communities with the toolset they’ve created, on May 2.

“Life has changed for everyone right now but we can still come together as a community and support local businesses,” says Vincent. “We created a template and have all the resources needed to host these events on May 2 with the idea that people can use our model to raise money for their communities.”

With people already stepping up and showing interest, the team’s goal this round is to raise one million dollars to help Canadians affected by COVID-19.

Each location will stream their own local speakers and additional spots will be filled with national keynote and celebrity acts, including Hayley Wickenheiser and Erin Cebula, organized by Vincent and team.

If you’re interested in finding out more about hosting your own Stay at Home Gala visit

Tags: Bachelor of Business Administration, Okanagan School of Business, Stay at Home Gala, OC Alumni Association



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