Kevin Bent has more than 20 years of print and online media and marketing leadership experience. He has held numerous senior sales and publishing roles throughout Canada. Currently, he’s leading two new ventures in the digital media industry.
Kevin is a founding Board Member and had been actively involved in a number of Boards prior to Streetohome, including BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, Sunnyhill Foundation for Children, BC Achievement Foundation and Vancouver Foundation.
Why did you join the Streetohome Board?
It’s incumbent upon all of us to give back to our community. I’ve been lucky to meet many individuals either through work or friendships and these individuals have inspired me to get involved. Streetohome does great work in the community and I thought the approach the group was taking was spot on – rallying the business community and community leaders to work together to tackle a significant social issue in our city – homelessness. The private sector brings together so many hardworking, dedicated, smart and caring people who know how to get things done.
Tell us about Streetohome’s renewed focus on homelessness prevention.
While part of our initial 10-year plan for Vancouver, the first step was to put people in a place they could call ‘home’, where they would be able to access the support they needed. However, the Board quickly realized that more needed to be done ‘upstream’ in order to have a significant impact. This meant dealing with the “root causes” and understanding why people are ending up homeless in the first place. Preventing people from cycling in and out of homelessness by helping them to achieve their personal goals, including addiction recovery, and move on with their lives, is where our focus is today.
Where do you think Addiction Recovery Pathways fit with homelessness prevention?
I co-chair a Streetohome Board Committee that oversees innovative addiction recovery pathways that fill gaps in the current homelessness services system. We were delighted to recommend that the Board contribute funding to the St. Paul’s HUB and Pacific Community Resources Society’s two new Youth Recovery Homes – each having a significant impact. We have made major progress with where we want to go and what we want to do as a committee, but some of the “heavy lifting” is just starting. We are brokering and leveraging three promising recovery pathways with a variety of service provider partners.
How should the media address societal issues, and how can it help?
When I became the President and publisher of The Vancouver Sun and Province in 2006, I realized I was in a very unique position where I could use my good fortune to benefit the community. In my mind the media has an obligation to shine a spotlight on major societal issues and hopefully spur debate and discussion with the right stakeholders. Saying that, the media just can’t highlight the issue or issues and walk away thinking their job is done. They also need to be a part of the solution. Using their incredible power and reach to positively influence policy change is one powerful tactic that works.
What advice would you give your sons as young adults starting to make their way in the world?
This may sound like a cliché but when all is said and done, I would want them to be happy. I’d tell them to be honest and hard-working, find your passion and exploit it, treat all people with great respect, be engaged in your community and give back to the less fortunate. When they ask why someone is sleeping on the sidewalk, I explain to them that the individual is just like us but things have happened in their lives that have brought them to this point. I tell them that we are lucky to have the resources and support we have; and that some people need help in getting back into a home and on with their lives.