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More Rail Trail support

Jeff Payne, General Manager (left), and Jason Keis, Marketing and Sales Manager for the Armstrong Regional Cooperative recently presented a $2,500 donation to the Okanagan Rail Trail, received by Brad Clements, Trail Ambassador (right). Keis says, “We love this project and are proud to support it!”  

Med students raise $16,500

Hosting a charity golf tournament is an annual tradition for second-year UBC Medical students and one of the ways students get to know and make a difference in their community. This year, the UBC Southern Medical Program Class of 2019 chose the Canadian Mental Health Association, Kelowna (CMHA Kelowna), as their charity of choice. 

Together with event sponsors Scotiabank and MNP, over 100 faculty, students and community members participated in this year’s golf tournament at the Harvest Golf Club, raising  $16,500 which will support local youth through Foundry Kelowna. CMHA Kelowna is the lead agency for Foundry Kelowna, part of the BC Integrated Youth Services Initiative. The centre will bring existing services under one roof so families and young people can access a ‘one-stop shop’ for primary care, mental health and substance use, and social services.

“It is great to see young people, especially future medical professionals, take an interest in supporting the mental health of children, youth, and families in our community,” says Shari Slattery, Fund Development Coordinator at CMHA Kelowna. “We are incredibly grateful for their support.” 

“Mental health touches everyone’s life in one capacity or another. In recent years, we have taken significant steps towards ensuring everyone has access to the support they need. The Southern Medical Program (SMP) wanted to support this momentum. The SMP Class of 2019 is proud to support the Canadian Mental Health Association in their endeavour to open Foundry in Kelowna,” says Brandon Evtushevski, one of the students who helped to organize this event. 

This mother helps others

Alyssa Fulkerson is this week's Volinspire Volunteer of the week.

What inspires you to volunteer?

I am a mom of three children. Teaching them to give back to the community and doing the right thing by others is my main goal as a mother. It is this, and helping others in need, when there is nowhere else for them to go for help, that truly keeps me going. Seeing the signs of relief, the joy in their smile and the happiness in their eyes warms my heart beyond words.

Which causes are you most passionate about?

Mamas for Mamas is my main focus as it partners with many other organizations in the community. Through Mamas for Mamas, I have been able to assist with the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank, Kelowna Santas, Kelowna & District Share Society, Kelowna Women's Shelter, Kelowna Shoe Bank, Karis Support Society, Now Canada, the Salvation Army, as well as Saint Vincent de Paul. 

Mamas For Mamas now has more than 9,000 members, and it's helping families who truly need support. Support is provided when these families are put on waitlists and have nowhere else to go. It is one of the few organizations that works on weekends and is open around the clock, seven days a week. There is always a volunteer working, even on statutory holidays.

What impact have you seen volunteers make?

We provide fresh vegetables, fruit, eggs, and bread through the sustainable nourishment program. We provide pantry food and diaper hampers through office support and provide referrals to needed resources in the community for food, clothing, housing and mental health. Vehicles and tires, car repairs and diagnostics are funded through community dealership supporters of Mamas for Mamas. Thousands of dollars in funds are raised at community events and fundraisers. Emergency Christmas support is also provided for food and gifts for all families in need.

How can people get involved?

Diapers, clothing, food, home essentials and monetary donations are always needed.
Visiting the website at www.mamasformamas.ca, following the newsletter or even emailing me at [email protected] are ways to find out how to get involved and what events we have coming up in need of volunteers.

Anyone you would like to recognize?

Shannon Christensen and Cydney McDonald have been the reason for my involvement since day one. They provide me with continuous support to accomplish as much as I do. A big thanks to Ryan Lancaster from Scale My Life for assisting me at the Mamas for Mamas toy drive and raising awareness for Mamas for Mamas. He was able to help focus on the continued support that is needed through an amazing online video and many social media posts about the Mamas One Toy Challenge.

– Do you know an inspiring volunteer? Nominate them for a volunteer spotlight.


A bright future for youth

Finding a job isn't always easy; especially for those who are new to the workforce.
With little experience yet endless potential, sometimes youth simply need coaching, a support system and a nudge in the right direction, to find work. That is the goal behind the YMCA of Okanagan's Youth Employment Programs in both Kelowna and Penticton BC, which have proven highly successful for Okanagan youth. 
For Alannah, age 19, and her family, the YMCA’s Youth Employment Programs were life changing. 
“Before entering this program, my sister, mother and I were struggling with homelessness,” explains Alannah. “We moved away to help a family member, and when we moved back to Kelowna, we couldn’t find a place to rent since we didn’t have work. It was difficult. Luckily I have found work since entering this program.”
With a newfound community of people who care as well as employment coaching, certifications and a food, transportation and wage allowance, Alannah and her younger sister — who entered the program together — both found work and have been given an opportunity to create a better life for themselves.
“It is a misconception that everyone who is homeless is not qualified,” says Alannah. “The employment market in Kelowna was difficult for us to navigate, but this program, and the staff really helped. We have now found a home, and we are on a positive path.”
"Each and every day we work with bright, talented and driven young adults like Alannah, who more often than not, simply need encouragement as well as a bit of instruction and a support system to point them in the right direction,” says YMCA Program Supervisor, Jan Yelland. "We are truly grateful to help youth reach their career and life goals.”
The YMCA of Okanagan offers a variety of employment programs geared to helping young adults find sustainable employment. Programs vary in length and include a mix of components including career assessments, skills upgrades, interview and networking experience and often match employees with employers in the industries they desire to work in. 
The YMCA of Okanagan is currently accepting registration for its next program starting January 16, 2017, downtown Kelowna. If you, or someone you know is interested, text 250-826-3093 or visit ymcaokanagan.ca/youthemployment for more information. 

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