Two added to IHA board
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 02 - Get Involved

File photo

The Interior Health Authority has two new board members, three who have been reappointed and another who is on her way out.

Allan Louis and Karen Hamling are the newcomers to the board, while Tammy Tugnum, Dennis Rounsville and Diane Jules were reappointed. Patricia Dooley, meanwhile, has left the board.

Louis is an Okanagan Indian Band councillor, co-chair of the Aboriginal Education Committee for School District 22 and a member of the First Nations Health Council. Hamling is the former four-term mayor of Nakusp and retired after many years as the health records supervisor at Arrow Lakes Hospital. Currently she helps with a forestry contracting business and is the treasurer of the Nakusp and Area Community Foundation. She is a licensed practical nurse and is an accredited health record technician.

Tugnum is the general manager at Cariboo Chevrolet Buick in Williams Lake, Rounsville is the retired president of the Forest Products Group for Tembec Inc., and Jules has been president of the Sexqeltkemc Ltd. Partnership since 2010.

The remaining members of the IHA board include Dr. Doug Cochrane, who is the chairperson, Joyce Beddow, Dr. Selena Lawrie, Cindy Stewart and Spring Hawes.

Foundation aids ski dream
Okanagan Edge Staff - Dec 31 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed
Hannah Mehain accepts an award from Community Foundation of the North executive director Leanne Hammond.

If it weren’t for Okanagan College and Okanagan College Foundation, Hannah Mehain might not be able to chase her Olympic dream and go to school at the same time.

Mehain, who is an accomplished cross-country skier, attends Okanagan College’s Vernon campus, where she is taking science with the goal of studying medicine or physiotherapy. She is one of 977 students who received scholarships or bursaries from OC or its foundation this year.

“If I did not have the financial support from the college I likely would not be able to compete in cross-country skiing at a high level while going to school,” Mehain said in a press release. “Having that support, I can devote my time and energy into doing very well at both. It makes a huge difference.”

Mehain, 20, was recently named to Canada’s world junior cross-country ski team. She will be travelling to Finland in January to compete in an international event, and she is eyeing the 2022 Winter Olympics that will be held in Beijing.

More than $1.1 million was given to students this year, much of it through the support of donors.

“I want to thank everyone who is helping make my dream and other students’ dreams possible,” Mehain said.

50K for Boys & Girls Clubs
Jon Manchester - Dec 21 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs got a big boost recently with a $50,000 grant from The Home Depot Canada Foundation.

The cash is earmarked for prevention and early intervention programs for youth at risk of homelessness. It’s part of The Orange Door Project, which supports repairs, renovations and/or modifications to housing accommodations or other support for youth homelessness initiatives.

“Youth should not experience being homeless,” Boys and Girls CEO Diane Entwistle said. “The more we can do upstream, with families and young people, the more likely youth is to have a stable living environment as they make the transition to adulthood.”

Youth at risk are supported through reconciliation efforts following family breakdown, and by finding natural supports for the youth to stay with until conflict in the home can be resolved.

They also receive life skills training to learn how to find housing, complete their education, find a job and manage their money, work effectively with a landlord, cook and clean, be a good neighbour and work toward their goals.

The Boys and Girls Clubs’ youth shelter is also an emergency safety net for youth experiencing homelessness.

Too much poverty in Okanagan
Jon Manchester - Dec 21 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

More than 40,000 people in the Okanagan live below the poverty line.

And, according to the United Way, 21 per cent of households spend more than half their income on rent.

The shocking statistics include more than 3,000 people using local food banks last year–one-third of them children–and 1,600 children at Central Okanagan elementary schools who start their day with a donated breakfast because they don’t get one at home.

“The cost of living here in the Okanagan is high. Juggling competing demands from housing and food costs, to childcare and transportation, creates challenges on a daily basis. The added pressure of the holidays can make it impossible and extremely stressful,” says Helen Jackman, executive director of United Way of the Central-South Okanagan.

The United Way is an umbrella organization that supports more than 50 charitable agencies in the region.

It recently connected corporate donor GRM Inc. with a single mom and daughter to help give them a very special Christmas. And its Pushor Mitchell United Way Day of Caring saw 23 corporate and student groups tackle 50 charity projects, involving 310 volunteers.

Just last week, a group of UBC Okanagan students from the JDC West program volunteered at Karis Support Society, a home for women in recovery. They prepared and served a holiday dinner for more than 50 residents, staff and alumni.

B.C. has some of the worst poverty rates in the country, and the federal government has set a target to reduce poverty by 50 per cent by 2030. To help meet that goal, the United Way is committed to building a local strategy to tackle poverty in our community.

40 for 40 Challenge issued
Kirk Penton - Dec 19 - Get Involved

File photo: Contributed

The Kelowna Gospel Mission recently turned 40 years old, so it is celebrating with a fundraising drive this winter that it hopes will shed some light on the city’s downtown situation at the same time.

The Gospel is running the 40 for 40 Challenge, which is a drive to get 40 Kelowna businesses to serve dinner to those in need. Businesses pay $500 to cover the cost of a meal at the emergency shelter, and their employees serve the food.

“We have a set menu with four different choices, so they can pick which choice they want, and then they come in,” Gospel director of development Mike Morrison said. “They can either come in and serve it, or they can come in and prepare it and serve it.

“Also, if there’s a restaurant or something, like a pizza joint, that just wants to come in and serve their pizza, they’ll come in and serve pizza and not pay the 500 bucks.”

Morrison said six businesses have signed up to finish off the calendar year, and another 10 are slated to do so early in 2019.

The relationship between businesses and Kelowna’s downtown business community has been frosty at best lately, and Morrison hopes the 40 for 40 Challenge and other Gospel initiatives will help to create at least a level of understanding.

“I’m raising money, but I’m also getting the businesses involved in what we’re doing,” Morrison said. “That’s the big catch, at least from a fundraising point, is getting them involved. When they’re serving, it’s that touch. They’re physically doing something. So far it’s been a great response.”

If your business would like to take part in the 40 for 40 Challenge, click this link or give the Gospel Mission a call at 250-763-3737.

Kot employees give back
Okanagan Edge Staff - Dec 18 - Get Involved

Image: Contributed
John Kot, left, is no stranger to giving money to charities in Kelowna.

Kot Auto Group had so much success with its pay-it-forward campaign last year that it decided to do it again.

Just like last year, the bosses announced at the Christmas Party that each employee was going to receive a $500 voucher to donate to a charity of their choice.

Since there are 80 employees in the organization, that means $40,000 is going to be going to charity this holiday season.

“The response was overwhelming last year, and the individual stories from the employees about why they picked the charities has been our favourite,” Kot Auto Group operations co-ordinator Jessica Vallee said in a press release. “Some of these organizations have touched and affected some of them very personally, and it’s exciting to be able to watch them all give back.”

Just a few of the charities that have received money this month are JoeAnna’s House, Kelowna’s Woman’s Shelter, Canucks Place Children’s Hospice, Canadian Red Cross Fund, BC Cancer Foundation and MS Society Canada.

Tiffany Woodfield
Contributed - Dec 18 - Got the Edge

Photo: Contributed

What business or organization are you involved with? Raymond James

What is your role with that organization? Cross-border licensed financial advisor

What’s your favourite thing about living in the Okanagan? The sense of community! I grew up in Kelowna, and my whole family is here. I love that wherever you go you see people you know. I still believe we can support our local businesses. I also have twin seven-year-old boys, and when my husband and I had to decide where to raise them, well, I won and he moved from Vancouver. I love that we can ski, bike, swim and golf. We are in a beautiful location that offers an amazing lifestyle.

If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would you choose and why? My core is to meet the Dalai Lama because he is so gifted at teaching others to be present and kind, to trust we are where we are meant to be. I think I would learn and feel his energy just being in the same room. But I will say lately it is tempting to think I would love to sit across from Donald Trump and ask, “How did you do it?” And more importantly, “How do you continue to do it?”

What’s your go-to happy place? I’m very happy in nature, and this creates my balance. So in the winter it is on the cross-country trails at Big White when no one is around and you can hear the snow falling on the trees. It is truly magical. I can then recharge and be ready to get back and ski downhill. In the summer it is swimming in the lake. We usually go at 6 a.m. and swim laps at Gyro.

What are you most proud of? I guess I would be most proud of the first time I stepped out of my comfort zone. I grew up in Kelowna, and it was so hard to leave my family and friends. However, I went to London, England, for a year and was a manager at Harrods in my 20s. I can remember the first day having my team in front of me. Many of them were older than me and from different countries in Europe. Here I was from a little city of Kelowna. When asked to address them I had to swallow my fear and insecurities and demonstrate confidence and strength. This has served me well as it taught me it is OK to be afraid. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something. It just means you are stretching. I tell my kids now to stretch, and it is OK to be afraid.

What are the top three things on your bucket list?
1) Take my family on safari in Africa.
2) Egypt cruise on the Nile River.
3) Hang glide. I have skydived a couple of times, and it was exhilarating and then peaceful. Next, I would like to hang glide. I have always wanted to feel like I could fly.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Popcorn at 5,895 metres on the summit of Uhuru Peak on Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. Oh, and vodka on our trek up from a Russian’s flask 🙂

Latest movie or book? Winter in Paradise, by Elian Hilderbrand. Chick book but so relaxing.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? My twin boys. Best gift ever!

If today were your last day, how would you spend it? With my husband and two boys away from it all. No phones or iPads. A glass of wine and a beautiful view overlooking a lake. I would love to be in nature connected to them, knowing we will meet again.

Sally Ann needs lift
Jon Manchester - Dec 18 - Get Involved

Photo: Madison Erhardt

Kelowna’s Salvation Army is $313,000 short in its Christmas campaign.

The Sally Ann set a goal of $800,000 in the Central Okanagan to provide assistance to those in need. But with only a week until Christmas, Pastor Darryl Burry says the campaign is still far from its target, at only 61 per cent of that goal.

“Over these past weeks, almost 600 local families have walked through our doors looking for help and hope. Thanks to the generosity of our community, we have been able to meet those needs. But there are still others coming to see us every day, and the needs will still be there after Christmas,” Burry says.

“The funds that we raise at Christmas support our programs and services throughout the entire year – from individual and family support programs, (to) emergency food hampers, services for seniors and our disaster relief efforts.”

Bells are ringing at Christmas kettles throughout the city, and you can also donate at all Salvation Army facilities as well as online at

“We have seen families where parents are working full-time, but with the cost of everything continuing to rise, find themselves in a place where they just can’t keep up,” says Sonia Withers, community ministries co-ordinator.

“Our desire is to come alongside those who find themselves in a difficult place to let them know that there is hope. From the single parent who is trying to keep their head above water, to the senior working with an extremely tight budget … our mandate is to support others with love and dignity.”

Donation in name of wife, mom
Chelsea Powrie - Dec 12 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

A generous donation has been made to the Penticton Regional Hospital tower campaign by a Summerland man in memory of his late wife.

Ramesh Rikhi and his wife Raksha, a nurse for over 30 years at PRH, moved to the South Okanagan from England in 1973. Raksha was one of the first women of Indian descent to work in the hospital, and often chose to add to her regular duties by assisting immigrants with translation and navigation of the medical system.

Raksha passed away from cancer in August 2012, leaving behind her husband and children in Summerland, all of whom have fond memories of their kind and generous mother.

“Her work and our family were both important to her. She preferred to work the night shift at the hospital so she could be home for us when we got back from school,” Jyoti, one of her children, said.

Ramesh made the decision to donate $60,000 because the PRH was such a special place for his wife. He is an orchard owner in Summerland, as well as serving one term on council in 1996 and owning multiple businesses in the food and beverage sector.

John Moorhouse with the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation said the hospital’s tower campaign has reached over $18 million raised of their $20 million goal.

JoeAnna’s House gets cash
Rob Gibson - Dec 12 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

JoeAnna’s House was the big winner after the Interior Savings Sunrise Rotary RibFest dropped off a cheque for $27,780.00.

The Rotary Club of Kelowna is the major sponsor of RibFest, along with Interior Savings Credit Union, Save-On-Foods, Montana’s BBQ & Bar, and Landstar Development Corp., which also participated in the celebration.

“We wish to thank all of our sponsors, the community, our volunteers and every person who attended Interior Savings Sunrise Rotary RibFest 2018 for making this donation possible. We look forward to a bigger and better event Aug. 23-25, 2019,” Sunrise Rotary Club president Maribeth Friesen said in a press release.

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