Officer Raises Funds and Spreads Wellness Through Veterans and Everyday Heroes Initiative

Posted On Wednesday January 27, 2021
Cst. Stephens joined the OPS in 2019
Cst. Stephens joined the OPS in 2019

What started with a good-natured challenge turned into a fundraiser to support the mental health and well-being of veterans and first responders in Ottawa.

Cst. Satara Stephens spent ten years in the military, serving her last post in Ottawa. Since her husband grew up here, they wanted to stay. She joined the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) in 2019.

Last December, when her platoon members jokingly said they wanted to have input on her next hairstyle choice (she’s known for her edgy look), she laughed and told them they would have to pay for the privilege. They jumped on board, giving her the green light to donate the funds raised to the charity of her choice.

Without hesitation, she picked one near and dear to her heart, Veterans and Everyday Heroes. This federal charity was started by a veteran and now London Police officer, Sgt. Andy Gough.  He served 21 years in the military and has been a police officer for 20 years. The initiative gives back to military vets, officers and emergency responders with acts of kindness to help them through periods of stress or struggles with mental health.

With January 28th being Bell Let’s Talk, Sgt. Gough wants to emphasize, it’s okay to ask for help and even more importantly, to take time to listen to a loved one and give some words of encouragement, now more than ever.

“Military members and first responders are people too,” says Cst. Stephens. “We put on a uniform to serve, but we still experience illness, loss and trauma, like everyone else.”

Cst. Stephens knows first-hand what life can throw at you. One of her children fought a battle with cancer and won. Being close to CHEO was another reason her family chose to settle in Ottawa.

Through generous donations from police members, family and friends, Cst. Stephens raised $1000 to put towards Veterans and Everyday Heroes initiatives.

“I called Andy to tell him,” she recalls, “and he was adamant I use the money to do good here in my own community.”

Here’s how Cst. Stephens used the donations:

  • Meals and Home Depot gift cards were delivered to a member of the OPS Communications Centre, whose house burnt down. Additionally, her husband is facing a life-threatening illness, a situation made more difficult with Covid-19 restrictions.
  • A woman with a young son and no vehicle, whose husband is currently deployed overseas, received gifts, treats and presents to uplift their spirits when he couldn’t be with them.
  • The HCMS Winnipeg experienced a traumatic event at the end of its recent deployment. One of her sailors was the recipient of a basket full of gifts to welcome him back with the comforts of home, including Tim Hortons.
  • A paramedic, who lives on Cst. Stephen’s street found a gift basket on his door step. “He has one of the hardest jobs in the world,” says Cst. Stephens, “especially now.” Coincidentally, two weeks later they attended the same emergency call.
  • Another neighbour, who is a hospital nurse was given a basket of gourmet food so she could pamper herself after caring for so many others.  
  • A Correctional Officer in Cst. Stephens’ neighbourhood was another recipient. “Thank you so much for the wonderful gift,” Mike wrote in a note of thanks. “We love being neighbours with you guys and love our community as well. So awesome of you to do this and we will be digging into the chocolate tonight.”

Sgt. Gough is pleased to see his idea of kindness is resonating in communities across the country, like what Cst. Stephens did in Ottawa. He’s prepared to help anyone who wants to start something in their area.

Sgt. Gough can be reached at everydayheros1@outlook.com, on Facebook at V-EH Veterans and Everyday Heroes, at @Eh-Heroes on Twitter, @veteransandeverdayheroes on IG and www.v-eh.ca