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Alumni

An OMHA Grad Raised Over $10,000 for Charity In One Night

By Mitchell Machtinger, 02/01/18, 1:00PM EST

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“I think he really can put himself in those shoes."

omha alumni mitchell brewer

Photo Credit: MRI

Given the opportunity to help out a cause that was close to him, there was no doubt that Mitchell Brewer and Camp FACES were a match.

Camp FACES, an acronym for Families and Children of Emergency Services, is an initiative dedicated to families who have suffered the tragic loss of a family member from Emergency Services in Canada. They work with families from across the country and provide the opportunity to be with others who have experienced a similar loss. Along with trained personnel and mental health oversight, these families will get to experience some normalcy all while developing lifelong friendships.

His father Mark has been a firefighter in Brampton for 20 years and has served as a driver for Camp FACES for four years. In this role, Mark is responsible for transporting some of the campers and families to and from the airport and camp during the summer. For a place like Camp FACES, this sort of support couldn’t have been a better fit.

“For me, I know what it’s like to have a family member in the service, whether it’s a policeman, fireman or paramedic. When he’s gone for two days, even one day, it’s pretty tough not to have him there,” said Oshawa Generals defenceman Mitchell Brewer. “You’re always worried that he might not actually come home. The work these guys do is amazing. To bring these families from across Canada, to try and make them happy and forget about what’s happened with the tragic loss of a family member is amazing. It’s bad when (my dad) is gone one day but if he never came back, it’d be horrible. I figured I’d help him out and go from there.”

The camp has grown every year simply through word of mouth. They have a one hundred percent return rate and sadly have new faces join them each summer. The typical ages of campers range from four to eighteen and the camp anticipates building a long relationship with the families.

From nearby Waterdown, Brewer was inundated with ticket requests from friends and family who wanted to see him play his first game against the Hamilton Bulldogs (he missed the previous meeting while playing for Team Canada at the World U17 Hockey Challenge). That got the wheels spinning for Brewer, who with help from the Generals and Bulldogs, sold a section of tickets with two dollars from each purchase going towards his fundraising. All families who attended Camp FACES were invited to attend and 36 people from across the province did – many of them to their first ever hockey game.

It was fitting that it was First Responders Night at FirstOntario Centre. Brewer was the representative for the Generals in the ceremonial faceoff before the game and was a part of the starting lineup. When it was all said and done, Brewer raised $10,747 for Camp FACES presented a cheque to the organization after the game with some local emergency service workers.

“When Mitchell and his father were looking at ideas of charities to support, I believe (Camp FACES) was really just a natural fit for him because I think Mitchell really could put himself in the families’ shoes because his father has had such a long career within the fire services,” said Kelsey Pitt, Chief Operating Officer of the Canadian Critical Incident Stress Foundation.

The money was collected through ticket sales, sponsorship as well as a $2,500 donation from the Bulldogs and Bulldogs Foundation. Even though there was a hockey game that night, both teams realized what was more important in the bigger picture.

The donation will be used towards bringing in new families to the camp and continuing to never having to deny an application.

mitchell brewer halton

Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images

“At the end of the day, people who are in the service, they don’t get a lot of recognition like other professions do. I figured by giving back to Camp FACES, it might spark something to recognize what these men and women do for us,” said Brewer, a Halton Hurricanes grad. “They never complain even though it is a dangerous job, they just go out and do it.”

Selected fifteenth overall in the first round of last year’s OHL Priority Selection by the Oshawa Generals, Brewer has appeared in 40 games so far, tallying three points while manning the blueline. Even though he may be a rookie, that didn’t stop Brewer from getting involved right away.

With his new platform giving him more of a voice and some spotlight, Brewer is hopeful that his relationship with the camp will continue to grow. The camp couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Brewer aboard. Having a positive male role model in the fold that is also a leader in their community is exactly what the camp is looking for.

“Our hope is that in the future he’s going to get more involved and be able to actually attend our camp and be kind of hands-on,” said Pitt. “I know his dad’s experienced it so he’s comes back and he’s able to explain in detail what it’s really about to Mitchell. I think he’s really excited about coming out and getting to actually be there for the kids.”

Brewer’s role with Camp FACES is the first of its kind for both sides. They have never had an ambassador like Brewer before - a young, active player who is able to put a cause like this in perspective.

“I think he has a great understanding because he knows the inherent risks of the job because his dad’s been a firefighter for so long,” said Pitt. “I think he really can put himself in those shoes, that he can really understand if that ever were to happen to my father, how would life be? How would life change? Who would take me to my hockey game? Who would support my OHL career? It’s a pretty big thing and I think he truly understands it.”

mitchell brewer camp faces

Photo Credit: Brandon Taylor/Hamilton Bulldogs

Brewer will likely visit the camp this summer, seeing first-hand what his donation has gone towards. There’s a ball hockey court that he will almost certainly get involved in but his ability to understand what the campers are going through could be the most important part of his time there.

This is just how Brewer grew up in minor hockey.

“It was all those things about being a teammate and learning how to be in a group and leadership qualities and character building,” said his father, Mark Brewer. “He saw the involvement that the hockey teams had with the community and vice versa, it was kind of a give and take. He sees the pros giving back… I think him being in hockey, he picked up and learned those traits about hockey is a game but within that game there’s the ability to give back to the community and to use the game for the community.”

You can learn more about Camp FACES and make a donation here.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mitchell Machtinger is the Coordinator of Communications at the OMHA. He's worked with various sport organizations and is an avid fan of all sports.

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