$272K raised in dance
Nicholas Johansen - Mar 21 - Get Involved

Image: Voth Photoraphy

Dancing pairs swung their way to hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Central Okanagan Hospice Association.

The 10th annual Swinging with the Stars event on March 10 raised $272,500 for hospice.

“This was an incredible way to celebrate a 10th year anniversary,” said Natasha Girard, executive director of the association. “We are very thankful to our community dancers who stepped up to raise money, our sponsors and guests who helped make our event the success that it was.”

Almost 500 people attended the event, inspired by the Dancing with the Stars TV show. The Kelowna show was held at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort.

Dancers who learned new routines and raised money for hospice included husband and wife pair Laura Draycott and Stephen Maser, Taylor Kolar and Naythan Smith, Martine Parent, Marika Wolf and Shannelle Connell.

Planning has already begun for the 2019 event, and organizers are looking to recruit new dancers. Those interested can call Nica Graziotto at 250-763-5511.

United Way celebrates
Contributed - Mar 20 - Get Involved

Image: Contributed

United Way CSO celebrated the South Okanagan 2017 campaign at Poplar Grove Winery this week. Over 60 Community leaders, corporate sponsors, media partners, workplace campaign staff, volunteers and funded partners were treated to an evening of appreciation thanks to sponsor, TD Bank Group.

“We are immensely grateful for the support of all of our donors, workplace campaign, volunteers, corporate partners and media partners,” said Helen Jackman, Executive Director of United Way CSO. “We simply could not achieve the impact we do without their generosity and commitment.”

As a result of the annual fundraising efforts and provincial funding, a total of $460,826 was invested in the South Okanagan communities in 2017. This was allocated to 16 programs and services delivered by community agencies that ultimately support children, youth, families and seniors in South Okanagan communities.

Other impactful services such as the Child Safety Initiative, Emergency Transportation program, 100 Homes Penticton, and other strategic initiatives rounded out United Way’s community support.  The Better at Home and Success by 6 program make up the balance of the provincial initiatives supporting the region.

Toyota revs up facility
Darren Handschuh - Mar 16 - Get Involved

Image: Darren Handschuh
Vernon Toyota is the official sponsor of the city’s indoor soccer pitch.

Vernon’s indoor soccer pitch has secured a sponsor for the next six years.

Vernon Toyota has stepped in to provide the facility with $15,000 a year and in return, the facility will be known as the Vernon Toyota Indoor Sports Centre.

Kyle Johnson, with Vernon Toyota, said sponsoring the facility was a good fit for the local auto dealer.

“Vernon Toyota is part of the active lifestyle store and what a better way to be a part of something than an active lifestyle building,” said Johnson. “It’s a nice fit for us. The opportunity came up and we took it.”

Kai Tolpinrud, general manager of the facility and general manager of the High Performance Soccer Club, said he was thrilled with the sponsorship.

“This is fantastic. Without community sponsorship like this, these kinds of facilities wouldn’t be able to go, and the importance of the centre to the soccer community is incredible,” said Tolpinrud.

Weather limits the amount of time local teams can practice outside, which puts them at a disadvantage when competing against players from the Lower Mainland who can practice pretty much year round.

The indoor soccer field gives aspiring soccer players in the North Okanagan the same chance to train 12 months out of the year.

“It’s vital at all levels of soccer from three and four year olds all the way up to adults,” Tolpinrud said.

“We have more than just soccer in here. We are full from September, right through until the outdoor fields open.”

Baseball, lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee and other groups benefit from the indoor field as well.

“It really is an all-sports centre,” he said.

Big bucks for Easter Seals
Josh Winquist - Mar 15 - Get Involved

Image: Contributed

Between Vernon and Kelowna, Century 21 Executives Reality raised roughly $75,000 for BC Easter Seals.

The money will go towards the Easter Seals Summer Camp program.

“There’s only one thing that is more important than kids and that is kids with disabilities that just don’t get a chance,” says Bill Hubbard from Century 21 Executives Realty in Vernon.

For 23 years, Hubbard and his fellow realtors in Vernon and Kelowna have been raising money for charities.

“There has always been a desire for the realtors to keep the money local, we wanted to contribute to a local campaign and we wanted to contribute to something we thought was the most substantial charity that we could.”

Hubbard says the realtors donated portions of their sales, they raised money through poker tournaments and they raised money through special events.

“The idea of seeing a kid that is a quadriplegic being raised up by pullies up a climbing wall so he has the sensation that he is climbing the wall, and he is screaming and yelling and loving it and laughing, it gives you an idea of why you are doing it.”

The Vernon brokerage, which consists of realtors in Enderby, Salmon Arm, Sicamous and Vernon raised a little less than $36,000. The Kelowna brokerage raised a little less than $39,000.

Hubbard says he hopes both offices will top $40,000 next year.

“You know, these kids, they live under judgement and ridicule all year long, except for one week, and that is when they are at camp.”

Fortis gives to OK campus
Contributed - Mar 14 - Get Involved

Image: Contributed

FortisBC is putting $42,000 towards Okanagan College’s new Vernon campus Trades Training Centre.

In addition to supporting the facility, the money will also provide students with some state-of-the-art equipment and help the college deliver training on the latest techniques in energy efficient construction.

“We are pleased to provide support and funding for the new trades training centre at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus,” explains Gary Fillingham, Fortis BC’s operations manager, in Interior South.

The gift from FortisBC includes a $20,000 donation toward the facility, bringing the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons–Building for Skills fundraising campaign closer to its $1-million goal.

An additional $10,000 gift-in-kind of gas meters will provide plumbing and electrician students with invaluable opportunities to train using equipment they’ll encounter out in the industry.

FortisBC’s Conservation and Energy Management group is also contributing $12,000 to support curriculum development that will allow the College to deliver training on energy-efficient construction techniques.

“The demand for skilled tradespeople is increasing at FortisBC and in the energy industry, so having this high level of training in Vernon is good for our organization and for the region in general,” adds Fillingham.

“This significant gift from FortisBC will have a tremendous impact on our students and on our campus,” says Kathy Butler, the executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation.

“Not only does this support assist in providing equipment for teaching and skills to our students for in-demand trades, but also develops the next generation of energy leaders in our community. It is extremely reaffirming to our students to see a national leader like FortisBC make an investment in trades as a career choice.”  

Construction is well underway on the 13,450 square-foot training complex and on track to complete in early summer. Trades students currently train in a leased facility off-campus and will begin programs in the new facility in August.

Julene Ashford-Koslowski
Okanagan Edge Staff - Mar 14 - Got the Edge

Name: Julene Ashford-Koslowski.

What business or organization are you involved with? Camelot Haven Alpacas.

What is your role with that organization? Owner.

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? The rolling hills.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? Probably my twin brother, as I do not get to see him very much.

What’s your go-to happy place? In the garden among the flowers and birds.

What are you most proud of? The children.

What are the top three things on your bucket list?
-Visit the Cook Islands;
-Visit Polynesia;
-Visit the Greek Islands.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Turtle soup.

Latest movie or book? Edible and Medicinal Plants

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Genevieve (Jenny) my Newfoundland dog who saved my life.

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? I would do something that will make a difference.

Heli successfully stuffed
Contributed - Mar 13 - Get Involved

Image: Contributed

Organizers of the Valhalla Helicopters “Stuff a Heli event” say the fundraiser was a success.

“The rescues are stopping in to pick up their donations this week. We are so thankful for all the drop off locations, as well as, all the great people of the Okanagan that took the time to donate, it was greatly appreciated and urgently needed by the rescues,” the organizers say.

In total, more than 900 items were donated.

Soup’s On for the mission
Darren Handschuh - Mar 12 - Get Involved

Image: Contributed

A bowl of soup will help feed the hungry in more ways than one.

Enactus Okanagan College, in collaboration with the Upper Room Mission, is holding Vernon’s greatest soup event.

Soup’s On has run successfully for the past two years in Salmon Arm, which prompted Okanagan College students in Vernon and Kelowna to jump on board and serve up the initiative in their own communities.

Vernon’s event will showcase soups from eight local restaurants, competing to become the grand soup champion. Attendees of Soup’s On will don their judge’s hat and vote for which soup reigns supreme. At the end of the night, one local chef will be walking away with the prestigious Soup’s On trophy.

Tickets are $30, and will include soup samples from each restaurant, as well as one complimentary drink ticket.

For tickets, go to Prospera Credit Union in the Vernon Square Mall or the Upper Room Mission.

They will also include live music and a silent auction.

This 19+ event is taking place Thursday, March 15 at the Okanagan College Vernon Campus.

Proceeds will go toward supporting the Vernon Okanagan College Enactus, and the Upper Room Mission.

Through events such as Soup’s On, Enactus OC students raise funds to support their entrepreneurial and philanthropic programs in the community, such as their Silver Surfers Program, which helps seniors boost their comfort level with technology.

Money raised for the Upper Room Mission will go to the Healthy Snack Program, which provides nutritious food items to more than 500 local school-aged children and youth in our community.

Boost for Starfish program
Chelsea Powrie - Mar 09 - Get Involved

Image: Coin Dacre

The Penticton Starfish Pack program has received a $5,000 donation from Cascades Casino in the run-up to its first anniversary celebrations.

The Starfish Pack program provides backpacks of food to local school-aged children and their families on weekends, filled with food donated by the Penticton Rotary Club in partnership with Save-On Foods. The packs are given to kids in need on Fridays and are returned empty on Mondays, ready to begin the cycle again.

On April 16, Cascades Casino is hosting a first-anniversary thank-you dinner for volunteers with the program, and marking it with $5,000 that will provide a further nine backpacks for a full year.

The positive response to the program has only convinced those involved that the services should be expanded.

“There is such a need in our community for this program. If money grew on trees, we would supply unlimited backpacks to all of the children in our community that go hungry on weekends,” said Tracy Van Raes, Starfish Pack Chair, and Rotarian.

“The fact is, money doesn’t grow on trees. One backpack of food for a year costs $525 and so we are turning to our community and local businesses for assistance.”

The program works with the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club and is currently operating in over 15 cities around B.C.

For more information on how to sponsor a backpack or get involved in other ways, contact Tracy Van Raes at [email protected] or donate online at the Starfish Pack website.

Celebrating women
Rob Gibson - Mar 08 - Get Involved

Image: Michael de Adder

The world is celebrating International Women’s Day today, and the Okanagan is joining it. Several events are going on across the alley today.

The Okanagan College Students’ Union will hold its annual International Women’s Day celebration open to students, faculty, and staff.

“March 8 is a global day celebrating the cultural, political, social and economic achievements of women. It is also known as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace,” said Alex Starker, Kelowna Campus Council member of the Okanagan College Students’ Union.

The event will feature the Okanagan College Students’ Union giving out cupcakes and t-shirts to celebrate while providing information for students on the importance of women’s contributions to society through fun activities.

It runs Thursday morning from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m, at Okanagan College’s Kelowna Campus.

Olympian Laura Brown will also be sharing her journey at the RBC’s International Women’s Day luncheon at the Hotel Eldorado.

Brown won Bronze at the Rio summer Olympics and she has been a mainstay on the women’s track cycling endurance team.

RBC will also be making a donation to Minerva BC in support of the WE for SHE NextGen leaders program in Kelowna.

That event starts at 11:30 a.m.

All Get Involved Stories