Dec 3, 2013 / 5:00 am
Many people are surprised to learn that there are more than 100 local United Ways in Canada. Each United Way serves multiple communities within their territory. In the Okanagan region, there are two United Ways: North Okanagan Columbia Shuswap (serving the region spanning from Vernon to Golden , Nakusp and Sorrento) and Central and South Okanagan Similkameen (serving the region from Oyama to Osoyoos and Princeton.
A wise person once stated that day to day interactions are the building blocks of our society. United Way is made of local community members, who bring together their financial resources, knowledge, skill sets, visions, labour, media, community leaders, and a host of other resources that can be leveraged to create change in an efficient and lasting way. As each person reaches out within their own network and engages others, hands and hearts join to form a social safety net. That net is the United Way.
The vast majority of United Way’s “hands on deck” are volunteers; a small number of staff in the Okanagan help to coordinate this collective of caring and committed citizens. This is one of the reasons that United Way is so efficient. Another reason is the ability to leverage everyone’s resources, so that the impact of the movement is greater than the initial investment.
Here’s how it works in practice. Someone connected to United Way visits a children’s charity. They learn that the playground has a safety problem. The charity doesn’t have the money, time, or skills to repair the problem, but the children still need a safe place to play. A phone call is placed to one of the companies who run a workplace fundraising campaign, and they mobilize a team of employee volunteers to help out. The charity learns that they can apply to the United Way Community Fund to cover the cost of materials, and a volunteer team reviews the application to make a funding decision. Local media help out by letting everyone in the community know what is happening. A café provides sandwiches and coffee for the volunteers. A tradesperson steps forward to contribute expertise to the repair job. The municipality helps with getting the proper licensing and inspection for the work.
As more people get involved, they too discover that they have ways to give, volunteer, or take action to support kids. In this way, the needs of children in the community are taken care of, which makes the community stronger and healthier for everyone.
In addition to supporting children and youth, United Way also works to create change on issues like health and wellness, the needs of seniors, abuse, diverse abilities, and poverty.
Many people don’t realize that the services they rely on are supported by United Way. Know someone who had surgery and needed to borrow medical equipment? Or do you know any young people who have attended a youth centre or looked for volunteer opportunities? Have you been touched by someone with a mental illness, or do you know a senior who struggles with day to day tasks? United Way has a positive impact on all of these social issues.
Want to belong to a thriving movement, and see your contributions result in real change? Check out your local United Way. For the North Okanagan, visit www.unitedwaynocs.com. For Central and South Okanagan, visit www.unitedwaycso.com . We can’t wait to meet you!
This column was submitted by Avril Paice, Director of Community Investment, United Way of the Central and South Okanagan Similkameen.
Nov 4, 2013 / 5:00 am
At the United Way, our business is in facilitating Community Impact! Community Impact is lasting change that benefits this amazing place that we all love to live, work and play in. We facilitate community impact in two ways – through consultation and participation.
In terms of consultation, we work with individuals just like you, throughout our region, asking them what really matters most in their communities to them – what are the most pressing issues that our communities face? Then this information is what drives our investment decisions after we run our Annual Campaign.
Secondly, we invite people to Give, Volunteer and Act in the United Way to genuinely participate in the Movement. While giving and acting are vital pieces of contribution and participation to our organization, I believe Volunteering with the United Way is what is crucial to our viability. Volunteers make up the majority of our organization – without them we truly wouldn’t exist! From our leadership volunteers at our Board of Directors level, Campaign Cabinet and Community Investment Committee, to our front-line volunteers on our Community Impact Teams and Special Event and Operational Support roles. Whenever I speak with one of our volunteers about why they chose the United Way to donate their time, there seems to be a common denominator with each of them – that they wanted to participate in something that can make a difference in our community and they see the United Way as doing just that. So, now we’re back to our business – facilitating Community Impact. We can only do it if people make a commitment to participate.
One of our volunteers, Dawn, shared some thoughts that really emphasize why choosing to volunteer with the United Way is important to her: “…(I) witnessed just how many local charities are impacted by the United Way…it inspired me to learn more and get involved …”
We would love to inspire more people in our community to Give, Volunteer and Act and participate in creating Community Impact with us – so please consider the United Way when you are deciding where to volunteer.
Oct 5, 2013 / 5:00 am
United Way has three focus areas that the groups they fund must be working towards: moving People from Poverty to Possibility, Healthy People in Strong Communities and Helping Kids Be All That They Can Be. The Family Place program at Enderby & District Community Resource Centre works in these focus areas.
For the past 4 ½ years, Angela Casey has been coming to Family Place with her kids. “Some of the moms and I put our heads together to come up with why we like coming to Enderby Family Place” said Angela. “We came up with a long list of reasons; anything from the kids getting together and learning to share and play; to visiting and having coffee with other moms where we can relax and not think about the dishes, laundry and making meals. The kids enjoy crafts, colouring, songs, stories, snacks and playdough. There is a clothing exchange, and Family Place provides information on other community programs and brings the Health Nurse and other professionals in for us and our children.”
“During the warm summer months we enjoy the playground and activities and lunch at the park,” said Angela. “The tables are always full at lunch time with homemade soup and chilli. The most delicious biscuits are served! Every Wednesday, I look forward to the relaxation, many laughs and the carefree playing for the kids and social interaction with other moms. It takes a whole community to raise a child, it's really true and it really does take a community.”
In addition to the socializing for the kids and Mums this program brings in early childhood professionals, the pubic health nurse, dental nurse and others to help the kids be healthy and school-ready.
United Way invests in programs like Enderby Family Place to give kids the best start in life possible. To find out more go to www.unitedwaynocs.com.
Article submitted by Linda Yule
Aug 6, 2013 / 5:00 am
There is new funding for charities that make an impact in the Central Okanagan, thanks to United Way. The application can be downloaded at unitedwaycso.com or by calling 250-860-2356. Charities are encouraged to submit their applications quickly; those received at the United Way office by September 6 will receive a decision by the end of September.
“Our new grants program targets one-time investments that make a real difference in our priority areas,” says Marla O’Brien, Executive Director. “We wanted to open the doors to new ways of investing in our communities, as well as creating new partners in the charitable sector for the United Way.”
The Pets and People Visiting Society is a great example of a local charity that made use of the grants program to change lives for the better. Pets and People volunteers come from all walks of life and all ages, but they all share one thing, a desire to share with others the healing touch that only pets can provide. The society provides the opportunity for hospital patients and care facility residents to visit with friendly pets and their owners. These visits provide warmth and companionship to reminisce, and the simple pleasure of interacting with a friendly pet. Pets and People has no paid staff.
This organization received an Impact Project grant of $1600 in 2013 to cover expenses such as insurance, event fees, and promotional materials. This grant will allow the pets to make an average of 56 therapeutic visits per month. Each visit can positively impact all of the residents and employees of any facility. Up to 1000 people a month might benefit from the service, which is a terrific return on a small investment.
Most people are familiar with the traditional member agency style of annual funding offered by United Way, something that O’Brien says United Way is continuing, while adding new types of investments to the mix.
“United Way strives to be more than a funder. We’re responding to shifts in our community and emerging needs, thanks to the generosity of our supporters,” says O’Brien. “We work with over a hundred not-for-profit organizations through our programs, capacity-building initiatives, and investment portfolio. This grants program gives us new strategies to make positive changes happen.”
Those new strategies include funds for pilot programs, collaborations between charities, events, necessary renovations, and emergency situations. With good success in the 2013 pilot round, United Way CSO hopes to open the grants program up to charities in the South Okanagan in the coming year.
Read more Change Starts Here articles
- Unity House: healthy connections Jul 2
- Moving from poverty to possibility: Jim's story Jun 2
- Changes & the charitable sector Apr 28
- Giving back: Part 2 Jan 20
- Giving back: Part 1 Jan 6
- Hampers for Holidays Dec 23
- 360 Degree Young Professionals Dec 9
- Inn from the Cold Nov 25
- Those who serve Nov 11
- Community Living Month Oct 28
- 'Hope' Oct 14
- Essentials for women Oct 6
(Click for RSS instructions.)