Readers' Choice: Bridging the poverty gap

Ayako Turnbull has devoted almost half her life to volunteering to help those less fortunate

Attempting to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots, between the comfortable and the poor, Ayako Turnbull has been volunteering for almost half her life.

Turnbull, 30, a McMath secondary grad, splits a part-time job as bar manager at Milltown Bar and Grill on Richmond Island with running Fundamentals for Change (FFC), which she co-founded earlier this year.

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And although her charity — which is geared to help families living in poverty in Jamaica — is but seven months old, Turnbull has been devoting the vast majority of her free time for the best part of 14 years.

She also spent two years on the Canadian Board of Students for a Free Tibet and was a mentor for native youth for three years through the Urban Native Youth Association, for youths in foster care.

So, why does Turnbull continue to act with such selfless dedication in the pursuit of helping others less fortunate?

“I feel that, being born in Richmond and Canada, we’re so lucky to live in a safe and stable community and have so many opportunities compared to many other people,” she said.

“Most of the time, people don’t have those opportunities due to circumstances out with their control and I try to change that.”

Turnbull and two other FFC members, Richmond’s Jeff Kuzik and Ladner’s Meaghan Kyte, who co-founded the charity with Turnbull, are set to travel at their own expense this Nov. 17 to help an impoverished community in Kingston, Jamaica, where around 5,000 residents live in makeshift homes along the edges of the city landfill.

For a few weeks, the three will use their skills to teach the school’s staff how to use a computer for the students’ benefit, as well as showing them the work FFC, based in Turnbull’s home, is doing back in Richmond.

The three are asking the public to donate medical, dental and school supplies to take with them to Jamaica or financial donations to go towards the school’s lunch program.

FFC is looking to take down donations of non-prescription medical and dental supplies, school and art supplies, old cell phones, which use SIM cards, and monetary donations. Contact FFC at info@fundamentalsforchange. org or go to for further information.

Donations can be dropped off at Milltown Bar Grill (in Marpole) at 9191 Bentley St., Richmond.

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