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Many Hands, Doing Good marks first year of giving following Neville-Lake tragedy

July 19, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Brock Weir

A name, a number, and maybe a logo or two. That’s what’s on the backs of your average baseball player when they step out onto the diamond.

But, when William and his team do so, they do so with a very important message. Instead of a name or a logo, accompanying the number are four hand prints – one large print surrounded by three more, each one smaller than the last.

The large one represents Gary Neville, while the three smaller ones his grandchildren Daniel, Harrison and Millie, who all lost their lives at the hands of a drunk driver in September 2015.

Together, these hand prints form the poignant and evocative logo of the Many Hands, Doing Good Foundation, a non-profit established out of the tragedy by their mother, Jennifer Neville-Lake, to support children who have suffered the effects of trauma.

Reflecting Millie’s love of music, Harrison’s ingenuity and artistic creativity, Daniel’s passion for dance, and Gary’s fascination with broadcasting, the Many Hands, Doing Good Foundation provides nurturing and therapy to kids through art, dance and music.

These four handprints were proudly displayed by William in Aurora last Tuesday as the organization took over Aurora’s Air Riderz Trampoline Park to raise over $20,000 for local therapy programs.

William’s mother (and assistant coach), Helen Garrett, was on hand last week. A volunteer with the foundation since its inception, she said the organization means a lot to her.

“I have children myself and my heart breaks for Jennifer, I just couldn’t even imagine,” said Helen. “The fact she is trying to give back to the community even though she lost her own children has a big impact on me.”

Indeed, their story has had a big impact on the community over the last three-and-a-half years, including York Regional Police Constable Andy Pattenden. Working closely with the family in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, they are bonds that have endured and when Ms. Neville-Lake decided to honour her family’s memory by establishing the foundation, Mr. Pattenden was quick to join her efforts as a Board member.

“I have been with the Neville-Lake family ever since the tragedy back in 2015,” said Constable Pattenden. “My role as a media relations officer with the YRP brought me with the family, but there was just so much more there and the connection was so strong. I really wanted to use my skills and abilities to help Jennifer out to bring this organization to life, and now it is my passion – it’s the work I do outside of my real job and a night like this is amazing. We see everyone come together and have a great time, knowing the difference this money is going to make in the lives of kids. That’s why we do it.”

Last week’s event in Aurora was the second annual Family Fun Day.

In the twelve months since Many Hands, Doing Good’s launch at a similar event in Richmond Hill, the organization has grown significantly and has helped a growing number of children.

“We have had feedback from parents who have seen a noticeable difference in their kids after receiving therapy, primarily with music therapy,” says Constable Pattenden. “They have been kind enough to write us letters [telling us] that the therapy, which they couldn’t pay for themselves, has helped their child immensely and that is the reward for all of us doing this.

“We’re trying to work with various organizations [in the fields of music and art therapy] to raise awareness that this funding exists and that is really what our goal has been in the last couple of years, and we have done a really good job of that. Now, we’re also looking at scholarship opportunities at Centennial College for people who are looking to get into radio broadcasting because that was Gary Neville’s passion. We’re branching out, the more people that are aware of this funding exists, the more applications we’re going to get in and the more money we can give out.”

The July 9 Family Fun Day came just a day after what would have been Harrison’s ninth birthday. He was killed at the age of five, alongside Daniel, nine, and Milly, 2.

Since the inception of Many Hands, Doing Good, Constable Pattenden says mom Jennifer has been left “overwhelmed” by how the community has embraced the cause, helping others while keeping the memories of her father and children alive.

“She was overwhelmed way back in 2015 with the outpouring of support from the community and that is really how this organization got started: there was money left over from the Go Fund Me accounts people had put together and she wanted to use it to help other children,” said Constable Pattenden. “The donations and the community support just keep pouring in. It is allowing us to grow and do so much more and help so many more people. She is overwhelmed at the ongoing support from the community.”

For more information on Many Hands, Doing Good, visit manyhandsdoinggood.ca.



         


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