Sunday, November 23rd3.0°C
Whats On

United Way: My Story

Earlier this month the United Way kicked off their fund-raising campaign with breakfast events in both Penticton and Kelowna. Their goal this year is to raise $1.5 million for various great causes in our community. 
We have all heard of United Way but do we know what they do and how they do it? Their mission statement is:
"To improve lives and build community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action"
I sat down with Shelley Gilmore recently to get a more in-depth idea of what that means and how they make that happen: 



In other local event news did you know that October 1st is National Seniors Day? At the Okanagan Volunteer fair last weekend I discovered a local organisation, CARP Okanagan, and they are hosting an afternoon fashion show with a twist at the Sparkling Hills Resort. For full information on the event check out their site but here is my video interview with their Chapter Chair, Mary Ann Murphy telling us all about the event next Wednesday. 

Tickets can be bought here.
When I talked to them they also wanted me to make mention that they have been blown away by the generosity of Vibrant Vines who have been very supportive of the event. 
Special Note:  
Do you want to write about events, creatives or the great people and organizations of Kelowna? Over the next few weeks we want to mix things up so Rob Balsdon wanted to invite you to send him your potential columns for consideration to run on Castanet.
I'll be taking a few weeks off so simply send him your pitch at [email protected]
Look forward to sharing more stories with you later this fall. This week actually marks my 3rd year anniversary with Castanet. Appreciate the opportunity this column has given me to help create and promote arts and culture, creatives, and some good folks/organizations in the Okanagan.


Talented Kelowna Launches

Talented Kelowna is a talent compitition that aims to find the best talent we have in our community and reward the top three with cash, prizes, and performances throughout our community valued at over $8000. The auditions run every Thursday from Sept 18th to October 16th at Freddy's Brewpub and start at 8pm (arrive at 7:30pm if you want to register to perform a few songs).  
Each week two acts will be selected by our panel of judges and they will go onto the final show at the Kelowna Community Theatre on October 25th. Last week Chantelle Bettuzi stole the show with her amazing piano and vocal skills. Check it out:
To wrap up this weeks column here is a video I took at the close of Music in the Park featuring the increasingly popular local Elvis Tribute act, Adam Fitzpatrick

Walter Gray Interview

Pretty soon our community conversation will be taken over by talk about the upcoming civic election (which happens on November 15th this year). A lot of that conversation will focus a lot on who will become our next Mayor. Before that becomes our community conversation I wanted to do an exit interview with Mayor Walter Gray. I wanted to take a moment to hear from someone who has been volunteering and serving in this community since 1975 when he founded the Snowfest committee. 
Below is my interview with him. I didn’t edit it down to 3 minutes as it felt best kept intact. Knowing that 25 minutes is a long interview below I’ve offered you some timestamps so you can skip to the section that interests you more than other sections. 
Ryan Donn Show: Mayor Walter Gray
           A history of Walter Gray, the politician, by Walter Gray
2:40    What motivated you get involved in local politics?
4:40    Which project are you most proud of? 
6:40    How do you create your vision?
9:00    His answer to the How do you create a vision question :)
10:00  Some per-capita stats about Kelowna
11:00   Any regrets?
12:00   Why he ran in the last election? Who was the first to suggest he should run?
14:00   What is your vision for Kelowna’s future?
16:30   What is the update on the former KSS site?
18:50   Do you have a bucket list?
19:50   THE BIG SCOOP - it has to do with a rubber chicken :)
21:00   Another personal plan for the future (tv related)
22:00   Our history together (we met in Japan of all places)
23:00   Everything is team! Bringing people together and making things happen
24:00   If you are running for council what you have is……
Full disclosure:
I first met Walter Gray as we arrived in Japan as part of a 2005 delegation to Kelowna's sister city, Kasugai. I have very few regrets in life but not getting a picture with him beside the  miniture Kelowna sails monument on Kelowna Blvd in Kasugai is one of them. My favourite memory of him has to be the moment our last chord was rung out for the song that I wrote with a few of my friends for the Kelowna Centennial “100 years”.  As I say in the above video he was first to his feet for not only my largest crowd but it was the most heartwarming and fulfilling standing ovation of my musical career. I haven’t always agreed with him but I should state that during the last election I got to know him a lot more by working on his campaign as the social media coordinator. To be honest until a close friend asked me I had fully intended to volunteer on Sharon Shepherds campaign but after a soul searching few days I accepted the offer to work on Walters campaign. Our town was torn last election and I think the closeness of the votes says exactly that. On the spectrum of politics they represented two opposite sides of the coin when truly what Kelowna wanted was somewhere in the middle of both and I think thats why the final tally was 50.5% vs 49.5% but thats just my two cents. I wanted to shoot this interview to show a more informal side of the man behind the office and I hope that it has given you a glimpse of what drives someone to serve their community for over 30 years. Thanks Mayor Walter Gray for your decades of service to this community. 
Next week my column will be about our Talented Kelowna program that launches at Freddy’s Brewpub tonight. For more details on that head to the Facebook event I’ve created for that talent competition by Creative Okanagan.


What's on TV this fall?

Well if the weather is to be believed we have jumped with both feet fully into fall. For those of us who plan on catching up on some TV I’ve compiled a highlight selection of new TV shows you may want to check out in the coming months. 

Gotham: Sept 22nd

Scorpion, Sept 22nd

The Mindy Project (totally don’t get this show but it’s currently playing in our house everyday as its my wife’s favourite :)

A to Z (NBC) Premieres Thu, Oct 2nd

The Affair (Showtime) Sun, Oct 19th

Black-ish (ABC)


Empire (Fox)
This one looks intriguing. With all the talk of ALS its interesting to see it as one of the main themes for an upcoming show. You’ll have to be patient though as this one doesn’t come out until 2015

Secrets and Lies:

Saving Hope:


How to get away with Murder:


Read more What's On articles


About the Author

Ryan Donn
(singer/songwriter, event producer, digital creative, connector)

I love creating and connecting. For years I spent most of my time in Kelowna creating songs. Those songs have been used by the Terry Fox Run, Kelowna’s Centennial Celebration, or heard on various local radio stations. 

In the past few years I've focused on creating community events including Music in the Park, New York New Years, Castanet’s Free Family Skate, Talented Kids, Talented Kelowna, etc. 

I use this column to connect some of our local creatives, events, unique local projects, or timely entertainment information. 

Originally from Scotland I’ve lived in Kelowna for over 20 years.  My wife, Kimberly, and our two daughters, Lyla and Bella, share our home with Tom (adult with diverse abilities). 


Connect with Ryan:
email: [email protected]
google +





The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

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