Think Local  

October is Foster Family Month, the perfect time to consider fostering children

'They capture your heart'

It was about 15 years ago when Julie Holmlund was asked to look after one of her friend’s foster children for the weekend.

Holmlund and her husband, who didn’t have any children of their own, had a great time over those 48 hours looking after their friend’s child. It made such an impact, in fact, they decided to sign up as relief foster parents.

“One thing led to another, and all of a sudden we’re applying to be a full-on foster family and foster home,” Holmlund says. “It just kind of took off from there.”

Did it ever. The Holmlunds welcomed the first foster child into their home in 2009, and since then they have cared for 29 children overall, adopting seven of them.

“They capture your heart, right?” Holmlund says. “These little ones, they just want to be loved and feel safe. And it’s the best feeling to be able to provide that. It gives them a sense of family and belonging and what every kid wants—a safe place to fall when they get home from school.”

October is Foster Family Month in B.C., and BC Foster Parents Association is honouring those who step in to care for children and youth who, for many reasons, are unable to live with their families.

The emotional rewards that come with fostering know no bounds, according to Holmlund, who says if she’s crying when her foster children leave for a new home, it’s because a deep connection was made.

“When you hear their stories, you just can't help but say yes, let them come here,” Holmlund says. “I will love on them, I will keep them safe, I will help them transition, and I will help them, you know, be kids.”

She says it’s important for foster parents to have thick skin, a big heart and a willingness to care and love unconditionally. It’s not always a smooth relationship—then again, which ones are?—but the good massively outweighs the bad.

“The toughest part for us was dealing with the biological family,” Holmlund says. “We have worked hard with our relationships with the birth family. We tell them we’re not replacing you. We’re just caring for your child for now. You just try and remain neutral, amicable, kind and considerate.”

Nine times out of 10, that results in a relationship that lasts well after the foster children have returned home or moved on to a new home.

“I still have families that some of the children were adopted out to Alberta,” she says. “I’m still in contact with the birth family for those kids and still send Christmas presents back and forth. You can develop some strong, lifelong relationships.

“I love being connected, because I get to see them grow up, even if it’s just in pictures. I’m like the faraway auntie or grandma.”

If you are thinking about becoming a foster parent, Holmlund wants you to know it is more a lifestyle than a job, nor are you going to get rich doing it. She says it’s also important to have a strong support system.

If you are interested in becoming a foster caregiver, visit BC Foster Parents Association on its website here or call toll-free at 1-800-663-9999.

This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

South Okanagan boasts array of exciting stops for unforgettable girls' getaway

The perfect girls' itinerary

Gather your girls and prepare for an unforgettable getaway as the autumn hues take over the South Okanagan.

There are many places you could go for that girls’ day or weekend, but here are several reasons why you absolutely need to treat yourself to a South Okanagan getaway:

• Indulge in crafted elixirs at Controlled Entropy Distilling: Nestled in Summerland, Controlled Entropy offers a tasting experience like no other. This boutique distillery invites you to sip on artisanal spirits, crafted with the utmost care by local legends Shea Bennett and Nahome Boule-Paquette. Their unique spirits are a testament to their passion for shaking up the cocktail scene.

• Treat your taste buds at Exotix Candy: Unleash your inner child in this global candy paradise right in the heart of Penticton. From uber-sour delights that have kids and adults swooning to exclusive MrBeast chocolate bars, Exotix Candy promises to satiate all your sweet cravings.

• Relive the romance of railways at Kettle Valley Railway: Dive deep into the annals of B.C. history as you explore the iconic Kettle Valley Railway. This marvel was birthed from a vision, sustained through challenges and hardships, and stands today as a testament to those who believed in B.C.'s potential. Enjoy a scenic ride through the preserved railway and let the rich history transport you back in time.

• Wine, dine and animal cuddles at Ve Oh Lay Acres: Visit a winery with a twist. Maddi and Laurent Violet invite you to their haven of fun, love and wine. From honey wines that break conventions to petting farms filled with adorable animals, this place guarantees pure joy. Enjoy their unique wines, breathtaking property and embrace their vision of making wineries more accessible and fun.

• Find your perfect fit at Peaches Lingerie: Every woman deserves lingerie that makes her feel beautiful and confident. At Peaches, its professional staff takes pride in finding the perfect fit for every body type. Whether you’re searching for elegant lace or comfortable, everyday wear, they’ve got you covered.

• Dig into nostalgia at The Grooveyard: The rhythm of the past meets the beats of the present at Penticton’s legendary record shop. Relish the nostalgia and enjoy the resurgence of vinyl at this iconic store that has charmed music lovers for three decades.

In between these highlights, the streets of Penticton and Summerland brim with local cafes, artisanal shops and the beautiful backdrop of nature. Your weekend will be filled with memories of laughter, bonding and sheer indulgence, as the South Okanagan leaves an indelible mark on your heart.

So pack those bags and let the unforgettable journey begin.

This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Pythe Navis MDP helps navigate your insurance claim and puts you in the driver’s seat 

Navigating your claim


When you or your family experience a catastrophic event, such as a fire or flood, and need to make an insurance claim, it helps to have an advocate on your side that works for your best interests.

That’s where Pythe Navis MDP comes in.

“We are a multi-disciplinary practice offering both adjusting and legal services to our clients, and because of the unique structure of our business we are typically able to provide both services at a lower cost than if you had to obtain those services separately,” says partner Liam Corcoran, a lawyer and licensed adjuster at the firm.

Together with his partner James Smart, who is a long-time licensed adjuster with more than 35 years experience, the pair help those navigating insurance claims to fulfill the terms and conditions of their insurance policy from start-to-finish and they exclusively represent insureds, not insurance companies.

“Having a professional on your side is important,” says Corcoran. “And it’s becoming more and more necessary.”

The experience of suffering loss or damage to your home, personal property or business is devastating and that is what most people buy insurance for—to protect themselves in the event of a catastrophic loss. But the reality of navigating an insurance claim is often radically different and much more complicated than what most expect.

While many people expect the insurance company will be responsible for taking care of them in the event of a claim, the reality is that the burden of fulfilling the terms and conditions of a claim falls almost entirely on the policyholder.

Since most people are unable to satisfy all the requirements without assistance, and as a result are unable to properly present their claim to the insurance company for a settlement, insurance companies assign their own in-house adjusters or hire an “independent” adjuster to assist the policyholder. Those adjusters are hired and paid for by the Insurer and are therefore incentivized to work towards the interests of the insurance company, which may not be the same as the interests of the policyholder.

As Smart puts it, relying on the insurance company’s adjuster to get you where you want to go is a lot like getting on a bus without knowing where it’s going. You may get to your intended destination, or you may not. The bus might start out heading in the right direction, but then it might change course. The problem is that you aren’t driving the bus and therefore don’t have any control over where the bus or your claim is heading. And once the bus starts moving, it can be very difficult or impossible to get it to stop or change direction by yourself.

He says Pythe Navis MDP steps into the driver’s seat on behalf of its clients and helps them get to their desired destination, which involves achieving optimal recovery consistent with their goals and objectives.

“Insurance policies are a form of contract. Like any contract, there are often shades of grey and the contract can be interpreted multiple ways” says Corcoran, who was called to the bar in 2015 and previously worked on behalf of insurance companies at a large Vancouver litigation firm.

“The objective is to settle claims without litigation as much as possible. Sometimes it is necessary, and we can provide those services, but the process is lengthy and extensive, and clients are often better served by treating the legal system as a last resort.”

As B.C.’s only multi-disciplinary legal/adjusting practice, Corcoran and Smart represent the policyholders making the claim, not the insurance companies paying it out.

The partners at Pythe Navis take the time to explain how insurance works and the different options clients have available to them under their policies.

“When dealing with something as important as the loss of your home or your business, it doesn’t make sense to take a chance and hope for the best. It makes sense to hire people who are trained to provide you with assistance and to ensure that you get the benefit that you are entitled to from your insurance claim.”

During the stress of dealing with a catastrophic event, those making an insurance claim should not feel forced into settling for less than is fair. With Pythe Navis on your side, you can have peace of mind knowing your interests will be well looked after.

Pythe Navis MDP is based in Surrey and has an office in Vancouver but represents clients throughout British Columbia. For more information, call 604-590-5886, email [email protected] or go to the practice’s website at pythenavis.ca.

You want experience when getting your car fixed, and The AutoDoctor has plenty

AutoDoctor cures your ride

Whether you have an issue with your tires, front end, brakes, alignment, air conditioning or most anything else that has to do with an automobile, The AutoDoctor will see you now.

The Kelowna automotive repair shop can do it all when it comes to your ride—the only exceptions being fluids, transmissions and engines. The AutoDoctor was previously called AirDoctor, mostly because of its ability to fix any air conditioning issue with your vehicle.

The shop got so good at fixing and servicing air conditioning that people did not realize it had the ability to do so much more.

“We are still having longtime customers coming in here and saying, ‘I didn't know you guys change tires. I didn’t know you guys did alignments. I didn’t know you guys could do my brakes.’ We do pretty much everything,” The AutoDoctor head mechanic Dave Leake says.

The AutoDoctor is located at 2670 Enterprise Way, which is basically the intersection of Enterprise and Harvey. It is close to Okanagan Dodge and Budget Rent a Car.

“We’re the little shop that grew up and moved to the spot on the corner,” owner Perry Harris says of his shop, which he expanded to approximately double its size in 2016.

Harris and Leake boast decades of experience in the automotive industry, which allows them to make an assessment quickly and to find the best solution that will have you back on the road in no time.

Harris met Steve Wolfe and Dave Ward, who taught him all about air conditioning and auto electric in their respective companies, AirWolfe and Ward’s Electric. Harris purchased AirWolfe in 2014 and renamed it AirDoctor. Leake, meanwhile, has been twisting wrenches for his entire adult life, and it shows.

“We have one of the best front end mechanics in the shop,” Harris says. “Dave is just simply amazing. We have all the most up to date diagnostics that money can buy and know how to use them.”

Harris and Leake are also guiding the next generation of mechanics, as The AutoDoctor hired Maddie Christian as its apprentice earlier this summer. Christian comes from an automotive family and already has years of experience through Kelowna Secondary School’s auto service tech program.

Another popular service The AutoDoctor offers is digital video inspections for people who are looking to buy a used car.

“We recommend that every person who is buying a used car gets it inspected,” Christian says. “Video inspection means we go over the whole thing and we record it so that there is proof of everything that we’ve done.

“Both the buyer and the seller can have a copy of it, so in case there’s any issues with the suspension, or lights or body or anything, they’ll be able to have a record of that.”

To celebrate its growing staff, The AutoDoctor is offering a winter tires deal. If you purchase your winter wheels from The AutoDoctor, it will mount and balance them for free.

More information about The AutoDoctor can be found on its website here.

This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Think Local articles