Enthusiastic young volunteers led games and activities at the launch of Okanagan College Foundation’s $1.25 million campaign in support of a new on-campus childcare centre, planned to open in the fall of 2024.
Held on Mar. 1 at OC’s Vernon campus, the event drew 65 guests and celebrated the kickoff of the Sunflower Childcare Centre fundraising campaign. Donor and former College instructor Lloyd Davies spoke about his family’s decision to contribute $500,000 to the cause.
"Time and again, I would have students missing class, missing labs, missing exams because they were struggling to get affordable, reliable childcare. It was an ongoing issue for student parents," said Davies.
“Through this campaign we hope to inspire the community to support more parents with young children to be able to attend post-secondary here in Vernon, and to benefit from the programs available at Okanagan College as they advance in their careers and contribute to the community.”
Sarina Parsons, a student parent, says she struggled to find childcare while balancing her course schedule – and it added stress to her experience. "The Sunflower Childcare Centre will allow parents to focus on their goals and aspirations while knowing their most precious little ones are being cared for in a loving and nurturing environment."
The Sunflower Childcare Centre is part of the new student housing project at the College’s Vernon campus, which will see 100-beds built on the east side of the property, overlooking Kalamaka Lake.
The BC Childcare New Spaces Fund has committed $1.5 million to the Centre, with Lloyd Davies and his wife Janet Armstrong contributing a leadership-level gift of $500,000. The community campaign, now officially underway, aims to raise the remaining $750,000 required to complete the project and ensure it is fully equipped, including an outdoor play and learn space when its doors open in fall 2024.
According to a recent report commissioned by the City of Vernon, 51 per cent of local parents are on waitlists for childcare, and the typical wait time is two years.
"With community support, the Sunflower Childcare Centre will blossom into a vibrant space where student parents and their families can grow and thrive," says Helen Jackman, executive director of Okanagan College Foundation. “The event was a great way to launch the campaign, and we’re excited to connect with the community in support of the new Centre.”