Briercrest alums’ ministry makes final round in charity contest

Posted: June 22, 2011

By Julie Cole

Travis and Debbie Parent. Submitted photo.

Briercrest alumni Travis and Debbie Parent have lots of Facebook friends who care about their ministry.

Their organization, Shepherd’s Gate Ministry—which seeks to help families who are struggling through crisis—received enough votes by Facebook users to place it in the running to win a sizeable cash award in an on-line charitable campaign.

The Parents, directors of Shepherds Gate Ministries are located on a small farm in Caron. The ministry offers mediation services, parenting seminars, children’s programs and community events for families.

The couple’s desire to help families in crisis began when they served on staff at a camp in New Brunswick.

“(There was) a select group of kids who were coming to camp and one week just wasn’t enough,” Debbie said. “It wasn’t consistent enough. We just felt like we couldn’t really understand where they were coming from. (We felt) if we just had an opportunity to love their mom and dad—their whole family unit—we would understand and know how to help. That’s how Shepherd’s Gate was born. We needed a better way to be connected to the whole family unit.”

The Parents meet with families wherever the need is.

“We sit with moms and dads every day at kitchen tables and living rooms and at parks,” Debbie said. “It’s very informal. We just help them through. Most moms and dads we interact with have not had moms and dads that were able to show them the way. Most of them want to do right by their kids but they can’t because they don’t have any base to go from.”

In Phase One of The Vivint Gives Back Project, which ended on June 11, Facebook fans nominated and endorsed their favorite local charities. The top 20 charities in each of the four U.S. regions and Canada were named regional finalists and moved on to Phase Two.

Shepherd’s Gate was one of the 20 regional finalists selected for Canada and the only organization from Saskatchewan on the list.

Phase Two of the project is currently running until August 27. During this time, fans vote on line for their favorite charity among the 100 regional finalists. Participants can vote for one finalist per day at In addition to voting, participants can also make donations to their favorite regional finalist. On select days during Phase Two, Vivint will match these donations dollar-for-dollar—up to $50 per donor and $2,500 per charity.

With other regional finalists being in more populated provinces such as B.C., it will take a dedicated effort for the Saskatchewan ministry to win. The loyal supporters of Shepherd’s Gate are hoping the province will get behind this cause and flood the website with their votes for this ministry.

“When you think Rider Pride, you think of the entire province of Saskatchewan standing behind a team they believe in,” Cheryl Kozun, friend of the Parents said. “Deb and Travis Parent of Shepherd's Gate Ministries are one such team. Not only do they have Rider Pride but they are daily part of a team that stands up for the wounded, the abused and those who no longer have energy to fight for themselves.”

Shepherd’s Gate doesn’t charge for any of its services to families. Most of the money it needs to run is gained through fund raising.

Winning a cash award from this campaign would not only give Shepherd’s Gate a financial boost, it would help them to achieve some future dreams for their ministry.

“Winning the Vivint Project would allow (Shepherd’s Gate) to build a "learning center" so they would be able to further their ministry by having a meeting room to meet with families to provide training, not only in crisis intervention but basic life skills,” Kozun said. “This is definitely a team worth cheering for.”