Although Susann and Mike Wolf only moved to Canada two years ago, that hasn’t stopped them from becoming a driving force in the community.
The couple is in the process of organizing Art for Hearts, a charity event featuring local artists and musicians to raise funds to put life-saving equipment in police vehicles.
Specifically the fundraiser will purchase heart restarting defibrillators and oxygen masks.
Mike is an emergency doctor at Cariboo Memorial Hospital and Susann is a graphic artist so between them they developed the idea for the art night fundraiser taking place at the Tourism Discovery Centre June 20.
While working in emergency, Mike says he noticed times when ambulances were not available.
“There are times in town where we have patients who have to be transferred to Kamloops by ambulance which takes away an ambulance from town,” Mike says. With only two ambulances in the city, if one is in use transferring a patient to Kamloops and the other is busy on a call, perhaps as far away as Riske Creek, he says emergency aid can be delayed.
“It creates a void of adequate treatment in town,” Mike says. “We thought that if we put defibrillators and oxygen masks in police cars then we would at least be able to provide emergency care and basic emergency aid to the community.”
“The fundraiser has brought people together — police, paramedics, artists and the city,” Mike says.
Local ambulance paramedics have offered to train the police officers in how to use the lifesaving equipment.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” said Blaine Wiggins, the district superintendent for BC Ambulance.
“It also speaks to the relationship we have with the RCMP,” Wiggins said.
The RCMP are also supportive of the fundraiser.
“Although we do have AEDs, I do not have enough for all of our police vehicles,” said Williams Lake RCMP Detachment Insp. Warren Brown. “I think an event such as this would compliment and enhance our efforts towards ensuring public safety.”
The organizers hope to raise about $6,000 through ticket sales and donations to purchase the lifesaving equipment for police vehicles.
Since Mike is often busy working, Susann and lakecity photographer, Laureen Carruthers, have taken on the lion’s share of organizing the fundraiser.
Susann and Carruthers will both be showing their art work. Music will be provided by Olivia Harrison, Christine Constable, Joel and Dean, the Wittenbergs and Rachel Walker.
Originally from Germany, Mike and Susann emigrated to Canada from Australia two years ago with their four children.
They had been living in Australia for seven years when a former co-worker of Mike’s in Williams Lake asked if they might like to move to the lakecity.
“He asked once, I said no. Twice. I said no. The third time the answer was maybe, and we ended up here,” Mike says.
They arrived in June, with a balmy Cariboo temperature of 22 C. “It was freezing!” Susann says.
They immediately had to buy jackets.
Having relocated from Germany to Australia they knew that moving again would take some adjustments.
“It is tough to move countries,” Susan says.
Mike adds, “It takes about two years to reinvent your infrastructure.”
Although the family had to leave many great friends and even the family dog in Australia, they are thriving in the Cariboo.
“We’ve adapted to the Cariboo lifestyle,” Mike says.
Adjusting to the Canadian weather was the hardest part about the move.
“In Australia we have two seasons. Wet and dry,” Mike says. “We used to joke that last year, we had winter. It was a Thursday.”
They built their first hockey rink last winter and one of Susann’s friends has given them two horses.
“Having horses was my childhood dream,” Susann says. “I can ride every day and it’s just so special!”
Their children, who range between three and 16 years old love the area as well.
In Australia, where the rivers hide crocodiles and other unknown dangers, there was less chance for the kids to play outdoors, Susann says.
The only thing the couple is unsure about is how to deal with Canadian bears.
“The rule in Australia was that if it’s smaller than your palm, just smack it. It doesn’t matter if it’s poisonous,” Mike says.
That rule doesn’t exactly work with a bear.
The children have lost their Australian accents since moving to Canada. Mike has kept more of his Australian accent, while Susann still retains her German accent.
“We speak German at home so that we don’t lose the language,” Susann says. “We want [our children] to keep the language. It’s a huge opportunity to learn German on the go, just by osmosis.”
Tickets to the fundraiser are $10 and available at the Book Bin on First Avenue. Donation boxes are also available at various locations.