40K Reasons to Love Bingo World!

Fundraising!  For AO York, it’s a fact of life:  we’ve got to do it in order to exist.  Autism Ontario York Region has a laundry list of things we need to fundraise for – and an even bigger ‘wish list’ of things we’d like to do, if we had the means.  Unfortunately, none of us know any billionaires with nobody to give their cash to (if you’re a billionaire in this position, DM us!).  So, we reach out to our community.

three women - Kelly, Sima and Georgia, in blue Autism Ontario T-shirts, at Richmond Hill Bingo

Kelly, Sima and Georgia, AOK Camp parent volunteers, ready for their shift at Bingo World

Community partners make a huge difference.  This is a big shout out to Richmond Hill Gaming Centre/Bingo World, for donating a portion of their proceeds to several local charities, including us. We use this money to help fund the best camp in Ontario – AOK Camp.

Our camp was started in 1987 by parents whose kids couldn’t be served elsewhere.  Today, we’re proud to offer fun for ages four through adulthood and spanning the spectrum.  For seven weeks each summer, AO York offers a one-to-one staff to participant ratio; each camper can do it all with as much, or as little, stewardship as they need.  Swimming, day trips, overnight camping, restaurant visits, music and more!

We’re especially proud of our camp staff.  Many of our counsellors are educators or studying in that field – we also have young adult autistics, people studying in various post-secondary fields, and siblings of autistic people.  Our camp staff are rigorously trained and background-checked.  They love being with our peeps and it shows.

One week of AOK camp costs $1,500.00 to create.  Our chapter fundraises almost $1000.00 per week, per child, to bring the costs down as much as possible; every camp family is required to contribute as well, by volunteering and doing their own fundraising.  Some of our families volunteer at Bingo – they say it’s great fun getting to meet so many people!

Meet Jaime

Head and shoulders shot of three young women. They are all smiling.

Jaime (left) and two of her BFFs.

For 20-year-old Jaime, camp means time with her BFFs.  Jaime is non-verbal, and uses alternative communication minimally, so her mother Deb told us about how much Jaime loves camp.  The camp staff are a big part of what she loves.

“Jaime sees her counsellors sort of like her big sisters,” says Deb. “At camp, she has lots of girlfriends to hang out with.  Together, they help her conquer her fears and build the courage to try new things.”

“Everything is done at Jaime’s own pace.  She spends the summer in a world of acceptance and independence.”

Thanks to bingo enthusiasts and our fantastic volunteers, we receive approximately $40,000 annually from Richmond Hill Gaming/Bingo World.  So when you head out for gaming fun at Bingo World, be proud of yourself!  You’re helping give autistic kids and adults, like Jaime, a great summer.  Look at you, doing such good work!!