Back when a global pandemic wasn’t shutting down most human interaction, Kelowna dog rescue non-profit Paws It Forward held a wine event that raised approximately $20,000 each year for the organization.
Now there are no such events, and the money for organizations like them is drying up. Now that the pandemic is more than 12 months old, Paws has been unable to hold its most important fundraising event two years in a row.
“It’s been difficult,” Paws It Forward volunteer Bobby-Jo Brown said. “The bills haven’t stopped for the dogs. There’s still a lot of vet bills and such that need to be paid, and they can’t seem to do any fundraising because there are no get-togethers.
“… They’ve had to really go virtual in terms of looking for ways to make money—and not just asking people to give money.”
In an effort to make up at least some of the organization’s financial shortfall caused by COVID-19, Brown is spearheading an online fundraiser called Petals for Paws that will continue until Wednesday. Anyone wishing to buy flowers and help get abandoned pups into caring homes is invited to visit the website.
“We do have an amazing community in Kelowna,” Brown said, “and everybody seems to love their dogs.”
Brown said those dog lovers have helped out by heeding the calls for towels and food, and also by donating money without attending the glitzy event that often goes with it.
Paws It Forward’s plight is no doubt being felt by non-profits across the Okanagan that have had to come up with new ways to make ends meet. Paws It Forward is run by a six-member team of volunteers, led by director Brogan Whatley, and all rescued pups go directly to foster homes since the organization does not have its own facility.
“The reason that we do that is every single penny that we raise needs to go to the dogs,” Whatley said, “and that’s the most important thing to us.”
Whatley said some breeders have increased their prices due to more people wanting dogs during the pandemic, but Paws It Forward’s adoption fees have remained flat.
Those who purchase flowers through the Petals for Paws fundraiser will be able to pick them up on May 7 or 8—just in time for Mother’s Day.
The YMCA of Okanagan will be hosting its annual general meeting on Tuesday, May 4.
The virtual gathering will take place at 5 p.m. YMCA members, donors, volunteers, staff and community partners are invited to attend.
Board members, those who have donated for at least two consecutive calendar years and those who have contributed a minimum of 20 hours of voluntary service for at least two consecutive years are eligible to vote during the meeting.
The YMCA of Okanagan, which has been in existence for 40 years, will also discuss how it has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic so it can continue to serve the valley “for generations to come,” according to the meeting notice.
Those wishing to attend the meeting can RSVP here.
A Central Okanagan poverty reduction task force is getting ready to hear your opinion on the issue.
The United Way Southern Interior BC and Regional District of Central Okanagan are spearheading a group that is tackling the issue of poverty in the region, and it is preparing to embark on a community engagement program that will take place over the next few months.
“We have developed an engagement plan that builds on strong, collaborative networks to identify actions and priorities that address poverty and wellness for the region,” United Way SIBC poverty reduction manager Naomi Woodland said in a press release.
“Between April and July, we look forward to meeting with community partners, participants, the general public, community leaders and priority populations across the region in order to represent these voices in the strategy.”
The Central Okanagan Poverty and Wellness Strategy will bring together a wide range of stakeholders: Indigenous people, community advocates, representatives of all levels of government, service providers, community organizations, business leaders and, most importantly, people with lived experience. All residents will have an opportunity to have their voice heard if they so wish.
More information about the project can be found here.
The fundraising campaign for Okanagan College’s new Health Sciences Centre is called the Our Students, Your Health.
Now the students have joined in on the fundraising fun, as the Okanagan College Students’ Union has donated $15,000 towards the new building on the college’s Kelowna campus.
“It’s always good to invest in education, but the pandemic has really brought to the forefront how important nurses and other health-care providers are,” OSCU board member Joseph Welton said. “These professionals are doing incredible work, and they need to be supported not just morally but also financially.”
The students’ union believes new facilities help boost morale around campus, which the college is hoping to have full of students this fall.
“Having a new centre that reflects modern health care environments will be a major benefit to students,” Welton said. “We’ve seen from investing in the Trades Training Complex and other past capital projects, the impact a new space has on students who feel inspired and valued.
“When these students are learning and doing well, they will go straight into our community and benefit the local community, so it’s really easy to see the domino effect of this gift.”
The Okanagan College Foundation is $1.5 million away from its $5 million fundraising goal.
A new aerospace museum and conference centre being built by KF Aerospace at the Kelowna airport is being partially funded by the federal government.
The national Ministry of Natural Resources announced this week it is investing $800,000 in the KF Aerospace Centre for Excellence because it will use mass timber construction methods.
The two-storey, multi-use structure will be the first of its kind in Canada, using state-of-the-art floor and tall wall wood-based systems to accommodate the large spacing between columns—a typical design element for a hangar but not yet done using this innovative building system.
Once built, the total carbon benefits realized from the use of mass timber for this construction are an estimated 1,753 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.
“Wood is being used more and more in building bigger and taller buildings, and we’re leading the world at it. Creating new markets for Canadian timber supports our forestry workers, creates jobs and gets us to net zero,” said Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan Jr..
Ground was broken on the ambitious project two weeks ago. It is expected to open sometime next year and operate as a non-profit via legacy endowment by KF Aerospace founder Barry Lapointe.
Vernon couple Kurt and Jutta Knuever have made a massive donation to Okanagan College that will more than double the annual financial support for students attending the Vernon campus.
The Knuevers gifted $210,000 to the college to create the K&J Knuever Legacy Awards, which will be used for up to $70,000 annually in tuition and living support for students in the trades or health-care assistant programs over the next three years.
“This donation has a significant impact on our campus and for our community,” Okanagan College North Okanagan regional dean Jane Lister said in a press release. “The Knuevers are not only helping students but responding to our community’s labour needs.”
The Knuevers are the former owners of Tekmar Control Systems, which they started in 1980 and sold in 2012.
Mamas for Mamas is about to get a big boost from the BC Wine Cider and Spirits Festival.
All profits from the sale of the wine organization’s subscription basket will be donated to Mamas for Mamas until April 15. The BC Basket consists of a provincial red wine, white wine, sparkling wine, beer, cider and spirit as well as other locally produced goodies. There are new offerings in the basket each month.
The basket sells for $149.98 per month.
“Mamas for Mamas is extremely grateful to this amazing community for including us in their giveback plans,” Mamas for Mamas national partnership co-ordinator Stephanie Horman said in a press release. “If it wasn’t for businesses such as thebcbasket.com, we would not be able to keep our poverty relief programs running.”
The basket for May will feature a Mother’s Day theme, which is appropriate given Mamas for Mamas helps those who supports mothers and caregivers in crisis.
“Supporting our industry and community throughout this pandemic has been our main goal since we partnered with thebcbasket.com in November of 2020,” BC Wine, Cider and Spirits Festival general manager Katherine Bramall said. “Donating 100% of the profits to Mamas for Mamas over the next couple of months gives us the ability to further support our community and a charity we respect so much.”
The Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club has raised approximately $49,000 for the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation and Advanced Stroke Care.
The goal was to raise $20,000, and the club was shocked when it was able to more than double it.
The ski club and Kelowna General Hospital are looking to partner again for more success next year.
“In a year of pandemic, when other charities are struggling, this is a feel good story of how a bunch of cross country skiers and snowshoers took it upon themselves to push their distances on their own to raise funds,” Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club director Lyle Nicholson said.
Junior Chamber International Penticton has announced the return of its annual ValleyDrive event in support of local food banks.
For the fourth year running, JCI will be running a food donation drop-off location to help replenish food bank stock, an especially important initiative while stock is low and demand is high.
The teams will have tents set up in the southeast corner of the Cherry Lane Mall parking lot on March 27, with space for people to drive up and drop off their donations safely.
Volunteers will be following all COVID-19 precautions throughout.
“We are a part of this community and are here to help those who need it the most,” ValleyWide organizer Katelin Dahlen said.
“We started this event three years ago, and the community really got behind it, so we wanted to try and keep it going as the need is greater than ever.”
On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., drop off your non-perishable food items to help those who need it most. The most needed items include:
• Pork and beans
• Chef Boyardee
• Canned meats
• Pasta sauce
• Canned fruit
• Small juice boxes
• Bottled water
JCI Penticton, formerly Penticton Jaycees, is a local non-profit that has been serving Penticton and area for more than 80 years, comprised of young individuals aged 18 to 40 who are committed to bettering themselves and their community.
A long relationship between the Friesen family and Okanagan College has resulted in a large donation for the school’s Health Sciences Centre in Kelowna.
Rod and Dianne Friesen, along with and their two sons, Shawn and Jason, and their families have given $150,000 to the Our Students, Your Health campaign that is raising funds for HSC.
“As you get older you start thinking more about health care, and having it available in your city,” Rod Friesen said in a press release. “We’ve been fortunate to experience excellent care throughout our 47 years living here with our two sons and most of our grandchildren being born at Kelowna General Hospital.”
Dianne Friesen worked at Okanagan College in the mid-1970s, and Rod started Voyager RV in 1984. Jason now runs the business and often hires graduates from the college’s RV technician program. Voyager RV also donated $30,000 to the college’s Bold Horizons campaign for the trades training complex.
The latest donation will support the therapist assist lab, which educates future occupational therapists, physiotherapists and recreational therapists.
In recognition of the donation, Okanagan College Foundation is creating a $30,000 award fund to support students in the therapist assistant program. Three awards will be handed out annually to students enrolled in the two-year diploma program for the next five years.