BVCU branch manager Halley Finch presented the cheque to Houston SAR’s Andy Muma and a few volunteers of the 31-member team. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)

BVCU branch manager Halley Finch presented the cheque to Houston SAR’s Andy Muma and a few volunteers of the 31-member team. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)

Houston SAR wins the $20,000 BVCU legacy grant

Houston Search and Rescue (SAR) won Bulkley Valley Credit Union’s (BVCU) legacy grant in the Houston District representation area.

Earlier in May, BVCU had announced that they would be donating a total of $80,000 with $20,000 going to each of the regions of their branches in Houston, Smithers, Hazelton and Lakes District. Community members were able to vote for their favourite project or finalist through the month of June.

The Houston SAR team was one of the finalists for the BVCU legacy grant funding and through community voting, the team secured the win of $20,000 for the Houston area. The funding will go towards buying a four-wheel drive rescue truck to move people and equipment around during SAR tasks and training.

Over the years, SAR, which is entirely run by volunteers has witnessed personal equipment being provided and used by the volunteers on top of the volunteers hours they contribute.

“We have been working hard to eliminate the personal equipment being used in training and tasks. There is already a lot that our volunteers do and it is just too much to me to ask them to bring in their truck or snowmobile or boat on top of the volunteer hours they put in,” said BC SAR Regional Director for Bulkley Nechako and the president for Houston SAR, Andy Muma.

The Houston SAR has a command vehicle and it is setup at a central location and the team conducts searches through that but they also continue to use personal vehicles for most part. Muma said that last Fall during a task, the team had to go through some rough terrain and logging roads which ended up scratching a few personal vehicles. This didn’t sit well with him and he realized that a dedicated truck for moving through rough terrain was much needed for the team even though the volunteers didn’t complain about the personal equipment use.

“Personal vehicles would still be used to drive out to the tasks because we do searches all across Northern B.C. but having a basic truck with equipment in it that can move people around through the rough terrain once they reach the location in their vehicles, that is pertinent. It is one of our last goals of removing the burden of using personal equipment for our volunteers,” he said.

Muma has just started the funding campaign for this truck.

“With the timing of the credit union doing this legacy grant funding, we applied right off the bat. Now there is still $28,000 that needs to be raised and the SAR is working on additional grants to raise that amount,” he said.

In Smithers, the Cycle 16 Society won the grant while in Hazelton, the Hazelton Cross Country Ski Society was announced winner. In the Lakes District representative area, the Lakes District Film Appreciation Society won the $20,000 legacy grant.

“Over the years the BVCU has supported us a lot and with this added support from them and the community, it’s been pretty cool,” said Muma.

READ MORE: Bulkley Valley Credit Union announces finalists for legacy project donation