Board member profile: Frank Bassett

When someone says the words Electronic Arts Canada (EA Canada), images that come to mind might include gaming consoles and stacks of video gaming products.

In fact, EA Canada employs roughly 1,300 people and houses one of the world’s largest video game development studios, located in Burnaby. It’s through this studio that this story begins, a story of how Frank Bassett joined the board of directors in 2010 and started his family.

In 2007, Frank was invited to an event at Directions Youth Services. Several EA Canada staff were invited as corporate donors to take a walk in the shoes of homeless youth. Frank toured the Centre and interacted with a number of the young people that depend on the services that the Centre provides.

“I got to see first-hand some of the challenges they have to deal with, and that really struck a chord with me. I wanted to learn more about the agency that was supporting Directions, because I thought it was such important work.”

Electronic Arts’ Corporate Social Responsibility programs align on several pillars which guides the company in deciding where they want to focus their support – two of them are educational programming and at-risk youth.

“A lot of at-risk youth really relate to the video gaming industry because a lot of them play games, so it was a way to connect us to this important work and it was a very good fit for our philanthropic mission.”

When asked to describe how EA Canada leverages its community investment dollars, Frank says, “at EA we do some grants, but we do a lot more in-kind and ad hoc support. So for example at Directions they identified a need for a media room to be built and equipped with the latest technology so that these kids could actually start creating their own videos, their own media.”

In 2010, EA sponsored the creation of a media room at the original site of Directions, valued at over $150,000 of in-kind donations including design, gaming systems, media equipment and furniture.

Four years down the road, the relationship between EA and Directions continues to thrive with the construction and equipping of another media room at the new site of Directions on Burrard Street, slated to be open in May.

At around the same time however, the relationship between Frank and Family Services became even more personal. In 2009 Frank and his partner turned to the agency when they wanted to start a family.

Frank recalls, “I first learned about the agency through EA because of our support for Directions so I was already familiar with the agency but I wasn’t familiar with the breadth of services it offered. I didn’t know it as intimately as I do now until I became involved in the adoption process.”

In 2009, Frank and his partner began their adoption journey, researching various agencies that provide adoptions services in B.C. and decided to go with Family Services of Greater Vancouver Licensed Adoption Agency.

“It felt like the right decision to register with Family Services and it was a great experience. We were very impressed with how the agency supports adoptive parents through the entire process, they really held our hand the whole way.”

They were thrilled when they got the call two years later from the agency indicating their two day old son was ready to go home.

“We’ve felt so supported,” Frank recalls, “it’s been a journey that we’ve shared with the Agency, since the adoption began and the ongoing support with the birth family has been great.

The agency made it clear that we would continue to receive support as long as necessary, as we chose to go with an open adoption.”

It’s less surprising that by the time 2010 rolled around Frank had become comfortable with the people and services offered at Family Services and the choice to step forward and take on a board position seemed natural.

“Joining the Board seemed like a great fit, given my deep involvement with the Agency.”

Today Frank puts his skills in facilities management to work to help the Board of Directors manage their real estate portfolio and assets effectively.

“It’s a really diverse agency serving many client needs. Although FSGV competes for donor dollars with so many other non-profits, all of whom do great work, we serve a huge community of people,” he says.

“It’s hard to find another organization that offers such a diverse range of services.”