A local father and son hit the road recently, traveling 10,000 kilometres across Canada to bring awareness to foster children and kids from single-parent families.
Mazas and Emanuel Salvas left late last week from their home in Agassiz, with their farthest destination Prince Edward Island, before returning and finishing the trip in Stanley Park.
Along the way, the father-and-son-duo will be talking up their non-profit organization, the Mazas Children Foundation, and playing a few jam-sessions in town bars and pubs.
“Dad and I have been playing music together for the last three years,” Emanuel explained. “He sings and plays guitar and I play bass. We figured if we play some music at local jams along the way it would really help to tell people about what we’re doing.”
The Mazas Foundation received non-profit status in 2010, originally an idea thought up by Mazas and his wife, Nathalie.
“It is a big love story that started more than 25 years ago in Quebec,” Mazas said.
During their time in college, studying music and heading a church youth group, the pair “decided we were going to dedicate our lives to more than just working at making money,” he continued.
While Nathalie had “a wonderful childhood,” he explained, Mazas grew up in a single-parent household with his mom and sister.
His dad, who was a foster kid from France, and his mom got a divorce in 1982.
“I saw my mom struggling with everything; from finances to relationships, and I felt the emotional insecurities of my dad throughout my youth,” he added.
Between Nathalie’s interest in helping others, and Mazas’ background in relating to kids in foster care or from single-parent families, the Mazas Children Foundation was born.
Now, as Mazas works in film making, and the music industry, profits from the films, the music and the foundation’s YouTube channel are all for one purpose: raising funding and awareness for the foundation.
“This was the motivating factor behind everything,” Mazas said.
Emanuel has also gotten involved with the foundation, with fundraising a full-family effort.
The 21-year-old grew up with “many friends that were youth at risk,” he said.
Some of these friends are on the streets, struggling with substance abuse, abusive relationships and jail, he added.
“This painful situation could be avoided if more care was given at a younger age,” he continued. “Sadly quite often it is simply impossible for the caregivers of these kids – some fostered and some still at home – to afford to take the time off of work due to the price of living and other issues.”
Funds collected from this trip across Canada will be used towards a retreat and film camp the local family has in the works.
“It is a film summer camp for kids during the summer and a retreat for single parent families from September to May,” Mazas explained.
As preliminary blue prints and designs have been made, and potential locations scouted, what’s left is the necessary monies to allow the ball to start rolling.
“We’re ready to start digging as soon as the funding starts flowing,” Mazas said.
The idea behind the camp, is so kids can enjoy a regular summer camp “but with a twist,” he added.
“They will learn how to film themselves as they play and learn how to edit and turn it into a film. They will bring the DVD of their adventure back home to show friends and families.”
As for the parents, the camp will act as a “retreat to get a break from the life struggles,” with massage therapists and yoga teachers on site.
For Emanuel, the camp could be a place for caregivers and kids to experience together.
“I think our camp/retreat could give them something to unite under,” he said.
In the meantime, the father-son-pair are focusing on the drive, and spreading the word about their efforts to advocate for youth.
Emanuel said the trip will be viewed as a success depending on how it translates to the viewer count on the foundation’s YouTube videos.
“Since the money made on the channel goes for the kids, I’d like to see some of our videos go viral. That would be a real success,” he said.
To follow the pair on their travels across Canada, visit youtube.com/user/Mazas777.