Charitable Choices: Patrick Curtis of Toronto Search and Rescue

Toronto Search and Rescue’s mission is to actively support boating and water safety by assisting people in distress and preventing loss of life and damage to property. We spoke with Patrick Curtis, Founder and Chair of Toronto Search and Rescue and Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, to learn more about them.

Toronto Search and Rescue

Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.

Established in 2012, our charity’s primary mission is to actively support boating and water safety by assisting people in distress, preventing loss of life and damage to property. This is accomplished through on-water surveillance, education and outreach programmes which include grades 2 and 6 programmes that are approved by the Toronto District School Board. Toronto Search and Rescue also provides a free Community Life Jacket Loaner programme, for those who can not afford a life jacket for themselves or their child(ren).

What problem does it aim to solve?

Injuries and death due to boating accidents. Increased awareness and education.

When did you start/join it?

Conceived Canada Day 2011
Incorporated July 24, 2012
Charitable Status Nov 13, 2013
Coast Guard Auxiliary Membership Nov 19, 2014

What made you want to get involved?

As Founder, I wanted to give back to my community as my father and grandfather had done. My grandfather, Air Marshall W.A. Curtis founded York University and my father led a $23 million campaign to rebuild the Bracebridge Hospital. My maternal grandfather, Chief Justice of Canada Gerald Fauteux, was a significant contributor to the Montreal community.

What was the situation like when you started?

On-Water: The Ashbridge’s Bay Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary was defunct so there was a significant loss of coverage on the waters of Lake Ontario.

On Land: The Life-Saving Society provides a “Swim to Survive” program for children in grades 3 and 7. There was nothing for the children in grades 2 and 6.

How has it changed since?

On-Water: Toronto Search and Rescue – Marine presence has filled the gap in coverage on the waterfront with an enhanced rescue boat and a vibrant, well-trained crew that is on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week throughout the spring, summer and early fall. Toronto Search and Rescue is on the water doing patrols every weekend including holidays as well as some weeknights.

On Land: We created a grade 2 and 6 classroom training module that has been approved by the Toronto District School Board. With school closures and Covid-19, the program will need to be reviewed and updated. Presently, we are searching for a new Educational Outreach Director to coordinate this program.

Prior to Toronto Search and Rescue, The Community Life Jacket Loaner program did not exist. Our organization lends out life jackets free of charge. We are looking to expand and further develop this program in 2023.

What more needs to be done?

As Toronto Search and Rescue is a charity, we do not receive permanent funding for ongoing operations. In order to sustain our service, we must rely on donations and benefactors such as myself, Ms. Kathryn Langley Hope, Rotary Club – Forest Hill and reimbursements for tasking and training from the CCGA.

In 2023, Toronto Search and Rescue – Marine will be embarking on a monumental fundraising campaign to raise $850,000 to replace the current boat. The new craft will allow for faster response times and will certainly be beneficial to those who enjoy Lake Ontario. To date, we have raised $50,000 and I will personally donate another $25,000 through the CIBC Miracle Day later this year. Ms. Langley Hope has also committed a personal donation
of $25,000.

As a volunteer organization, T-SAR is actively looking for volunteers who would be interested in becoming fully trained Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary members. These volunteers will fill a variety of positions including members of the crew on the boat and working in community / educational outreach. We are presently looking for the Director of Community Outreach and Education to help expand our classroom education and community life jacket loaner programs. For those who are interested in strategic planning and governance, our Board of Directors serves a three-year term. For more information visit our website.

Do you have any events coming up?

Our First Annual Charity Golf Tournament will be held on September 23rd, 2022. It will be a fun-filled day including great prizes, and a fun raffle, and the cost is only $160 per person for green fees, lunch and dinner.

How can our readers help?

– Join our team by volunteering with Toronto Search and Rescue
– Register online to receive our newsletter “Log Entries”
– Donate to our fundraising “Build a Boat Campaign”
– Follow, like and share our social media posts on your social media
– Share of First Annual Charity Golf Tournament flyer on your social media, friends and colleagues
– Register a foursome in our upcoming golf tournament and enjoy a fun-filled day and dinner on September 23, 2022.
– Be safe on the water but if you get into trouble on the water call *16 on your cell phone or channel 16 on your VHF radio.

Where can we follow you?

Instagram | Facebook

You can also learn more about Toronto Search and Rescue and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and subscribe to our newsletters called Log Entries on our website.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity/non-profit that you love?

There are so many worthy charities and non-profits but one I would like to draw attention to is the Cadet Program, Air, Sea and Army. It is a wonderful program for youth that teaches them valuable skills that they can utilize
throughout their lives. The age for participants is 12-17 years old and the program is free. For example, with the Air Cadet program, you can earn your pilot’s license.

On October 1, 2022, the inaugural annual Cadet Week will be launched at Queen’s Park with Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell followed by a week of local community celebrations throughout the Province of Ontario.

If you would like more information, please contact Charlene Orrell, or 705-768-6992.