A Kelowna mother is raising funds to support and outfit ex-military members going to fight in Ukraine.
Bonnie Penner started The Bravery Foundation after her son told her recently that he was going to the country to join Ukraine forces battling the Russian military.
“There were a lot of emotions,” said Penner. “Of course as any mother, when her son announces he’s going to an active war zone, there are no words to describe it. That’s what spurred me on to start The Bravery Foundation.”
Penner said her son is closely connected to a non-government organization called the Norman Brigade, an international coalition of ex-military personnel. It was founded by two Canadians, but Penner added that her son is not one of the founders.
“He’s ex-military,” said Penner. “He was also in the French Foreign Legion and served with them for six years.”
The purpose of starting the foundation is not to raise money for her son, instead, it’s to support others who are going to Ukraine to fight.
“A lot of these guys don’t even have the basic gear,” added Penner. “Then of course they need medical supplies, not just for themselves but also for civilians. That is their ultimate goal, to extract Ukraine civilians that are trapped. The group liberated a Ukraine village a few days ago.”
Penner said her foundation has received large amounts of material donations such as body armour and medical supplies but what’s really needed is cash.
“My son spoke on the phone with one of the commanders and they need more body armour for the guys that are coming. Plus they need night vision goggles and scopes. Goggles can be around $6,000, and scopes for rifles can be around $2,000 each.”
Penner added money is also needed for airline tickets and extra baggage charges for military gear. Much of the money donated to Penner’s foundation has come from the average individual. She said she has been disappointed with the response from the corporate community.
“I don’t have a problem saying that,” she said. “I am proud of the grassroots movement people that don’t have much that have been contributing.”
There are local companies supporting Penner’s cause. CanHost Webhosting, which looks after The Bravery Foundation website. Acorn Law, which is providing living wills and powers of attorney for the ex-military members going to Ukraine, and the Save On Foods store on Lakeshore Road.
“On the Easter long weekend, Good Friday, they are letting me set up a table to hand out pamphlets and collect donations from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” she said.
More information about the foundation and donations can be found on The Bravery Foundation website.