‘Made in YLW’ benefits YMCA
Sarita Patel - 12:46 pm - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

Kelowna city councillor Loyal Wooldridge has launched the MADE IN YLW campaign to help the local economy take on the challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The small business owner has partnered with Ignite Design and Fleek Factory to make products that promote supporting local businesses and charities.

Each shirt and bag will have a portion donated to YMCA Okanagan, which helps individuals of all ages and backgrounds reach for physical and mental health in their lives.

“This initiative couldn’t come at a better time both for businesses who have suffered during the pandemic closures and charities like the YMCA, who now, more than ever, will need solid footing in order to lift those most impacted by the COVID health and economic challenges,” YMCA board director Amy Gopal said.

You Are Collective offered wholesale and retail orders. It is an enterprise that supports mental health and community connection through these tough times.

“We’re so grateful to be part of this campaign; it speaks to everything we stand for in uniting and supporting the community,” You Are Collective’s Rebecca Steinhubl said.

“We’ve felt the challenges and pressures during these times, both personally and as a small business. Any way we can let people know that they’re not in this alone, we want to help!”

Retailers can purchase the products at cost and offer them to their customers at an affordable price, keeping up to 50% of the profit to re-build their business.

“With the province of B.C. easing restrictions on various businesses many are looking to re-open and emerge stronger than ever, but they have to overcome the hurdle of cash flow,” Wooldridge said.

“These past few months retailers and charities have faced closures or significant operational reductions to do their part to ‘flatten the curve’. Now they have to re-build and re-invent themselves in order to survive.”

Retailers can purchase wholesale orders, while the T-shirts and bags will be available to the general public in the coming weeks.

The retail price for the shirt is $40, while the bag is $10; $5 from every shirt and $1 from every bag will be donated to the YMCA.

This Bag carries hope
Monique Tamminga - 8:36 am - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

An Okanagan non-profit called ‘This Bag Helps’ started less than two months ago, but it has already raised enough funds to start giving out small business micro grants to those struggling through this pandemic.

“We are so thankful to all those who have bought a bag and supported the cause and are elated to be able to start our grant program around the second week of June,” said Susie Gay, who is the brainchild behind This Bag Helps.

“We hope to keep the momentum going so we can help more small businesses adapt, and possibly even thrive, amidst the pandemic. If just one per cent of Canadians purchased a bag, we could raise close to $10 million for small businesses and charities in these challenging times.”

Back in March, Gay was laying awake worrying about the impact COVID was going to have on her family’s seasonal tourism-based businesses, Antlers Surf lifestyle apparel and Penticton Paddle Surf rentals. She told Castanet at the time that she knew there were so many businesses facing the same concerns.

That’s when she came up with the idea of selling organic cotton tote bags with 100% of proceeds to help local small businesses affected by COVID-19.

“We announced our grant program on Instagram and almost immediately applications started flooding in, which I think speaks to the huge need,” Gay said.

“I was reading the applications with my daughter, who is eight years old, and I said to her, I just want to give grants to everyone, but what if we get hundreds of applications and have sold enough bags for just a handful of grants?” she said.

“My daughter replied, ‘Can people just donate without buying a bag?’ I looked at her and thought, That’s brilliant, of course. So we added the option to donate on our site. We know this is a tough time for everyone, so now if people want to be a part of the cause, they can donate just $5 and still make a difference.”

Since starting this journey, the feedback from the community has been heartwarming, she said.

One local business that bought bags called the initiative “a beacon of hope for everyone.”

“I got a lovely message from a local business yesterday evening. It reads: ‘This is a wonderful project. I have made the difficult decision to close my business, and it’s been heartbreaking. I’d love to support you, to help other small businesses weather the storm.’”

Gay noted that everyone is struggling and even then business owners want to help each other and are looking out for each other.

“This Bag Helps was started with one aim, to support small businesses that make up the framework of our communities,” she said.

The owners of a local optometry clinic bought a bunch of bags for their staff to carry its scrubs in.

“I was in search of canvas bags that they can bring their scrubs to and from work in. That’s when I came across your bags,” the email reads. “Love these and being a newly started small business ourselves, love the whole message and support behind them! Thank you for what you are doing and can’t wait for our team to use the bags.”

To keep the momentum of helping each other out going, Gay has now designed a This Shirt Helped A Small Business to add to the cause. Check out the designs on the website.

Nominate a deserving small business for the grants @thisbaghelps or email [email protected] Businesses can also apply directly here.

They are ready to start handing out grants in mid-June.

Dealership donates $50K
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 29, 2020 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed
(L to R): Carly Sauve, Holly Routley and Ian Speckman tour the Health Sciences Centre site.

Kelowna Chevrolet has become one of the driving forces behind the new Health Science Centre at Okanagan College.

The dealership has donated $50,000 to the Our Students, Your Health campaign, whose goal is to raise $5 million. This latest donation means the campaign is halfway to its goal.

“As we’re all realizing, health care professionals are essential for our community,” Kelowna Chevrolet partner Ian Speckman said in a press release. “This is about supporting students so they can get the right training and literally go on to save lives. That is impactful.”

Kelowna Chevrolet has teamed up with Kelowna Toyota, which donated $50,000 in November, to encourage others to get behind the project. They have even produced a radio commercial to promote their message.

“This generous gift will help us open the doors to a world-class Health Sciences Centre, set to open later this year,” Okanagan College Foundation executive director Helen Jackman said.

“But, as Ian mentioned, it also does so much more. By supporting the education of health care students, Kelowna Chevrolet and Kelowna Toyota are creating a legacy of excellent health care for our community.”

Carly Sauve, Holly Routley and Ian Speckman

Charities corral crisis cash
Jon Manchester - May 29, 2020 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

Thirteen charitable North Okanagan organizations will share in more than $113,000 in emergency support through the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan and United Way.

The funding is granted to charity programs directly dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

“After reaching out to community and charity partners, we discovered that many were experiencing dire circumstances and needed help immediately,” the United Way’s Kahir Lalji said. “Heartfelt thanks to the many donors who’ve contributed to the Relief Fund, and to all those who continue to provide essential front-line social and community service during the pandemic.”

After launching a combined application, the group expedited the grant review process and came to an agreement on the most pressing charities and causes to fund in the first phase of allocations. These include essential supplies for families in need, support for vulnerable women, technology upgrades and program adaptations so organizations can adhere to physical distancing requirements while continuing to serve their clients safely.

“The guiding principle for this partnership is to mobilize funds to help quickly without letting overly onerous application procedures slow us down,” CFNO executive director Leanne Hammond said.

The receiving agencies include:
• BrainTrust Canada
• Canadian Mental Health Association – Vernon
• Community Connections Society (Revelstoke)
• Community Dental Access Centre (Vernon)
• Good Food Box North Okanagan
• Enderby and District Community Resource Centre
• Habitat for Humanity Vernon
• HOPE Outreach
• North Okanagan Friendship Centre
• Independent Living Vernon
• Kindale Developmental Association (Vernon)
• Salvation Army Vernon
• Vernon Upper Room Mission
• Whitevalley Community Resource Centre (Lumby)

The effort is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors program.

In addition, the federal government has launched the Emergency Community Support Fund in partnership with United Way Centraide Canada, Community Foundations of Canada and the Canadian Red Cross.

Applications can be made via the United Way until June 26 and CFNO until July 27.

Support money spread out
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 27, 2020 - Get Involved

File photo: Rob Gibson

Kelowna has received its $100,000 grant from the province in support of laid-off forestry workers, and the money will be going to three social programs throughout the city.

The Community Support Grant Program aids Interior communities impacted by forestry industry closures or shift reductions. Kelowna received $100,000 after the Tolko mill shut down in January, leaving 233 full-time employees out of work, and affecting contractors and suppliers in the community.

City staff met with various community partners to determine how to disburse the funds, and they chose support services. Kelowna Community Food Bank got $45,000, Elizabeth Fry Society pocketed $30,000, and Kelowna Community Resources received $25,000 for its crisis line.

“At times when communities are under stress, supporting community support services becomes even more critical,” City of Kelowna grants and special projects manager Lorna Wilson said in a press release. “These service agencies assist in maintaining the health and wellbeing of individuals and families.

“Investing in this sector can assist them in addressing the expanded needs of the community by putting in place a ‘safety net’ for citizens in our community during these trying times.”

Student wins $5,000 tuition
Laura Brookes - May 27, 2020 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

Winning $5,000 towards college tuition through a local contest was the last thing Brittani Sali expected to happen this week.

In fact, the 22-year-old was just waking up when she answered the phone from a local radio announcer and thought she may have still been dreaming.

The contest, sponsored by the Payton and Dillon Budd Memorial Fund, was hosted in partnership with Virgin Radio and the Okanagan College Foundation, and entered by 80 college students considering a career in the health-care industry.

Sali had applied to Okanagan College‘s two-year therapist assistant diploma program before learning about the contest but now will have almost her full tuition paid through the contest funds.

“The health-care field was always something I wanted to go into, and there are so many options beyond the well-known role of nurses or doctors,” she said. “And COVID-19 has only made it more clear how important health professionals are to our lives.”

Local philanthropist Tom Budd, who funded the tuition giveaway in support of the college’s Our Students, Your Health campaign, says he was very motivated to help.

“I am impressed by Brittani’s passion, and I’m so happy my fund can help her pursue a career in health and helping others.”

The college is halfway to reaching its $5 million campaign goal to build a new Health Sciences Centre and support students entering health-care careers. To learn more, visit the website.

Memorabilia to raise funds
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 26, 2020 - Get Involved

Image: Contributed

Kelowna’s Players Choice Sports has always been a big supporter of the Homebase Charity Slo-Pitch Tournament, which features several NHL players who hail from or reside in the Okanagan.

The event, which raises money for JoeAnna’s House, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Players Choice Sports has decided to put on a virtual event to raise some money anyway.

The business will be hosting a Facebook Live auction on Friday, June 5, and 100% of the proceeds from the sports cards and memorabilia sales will go to JoeAnna’s House. Players Choice has been conducting online sports card auctions two or three times a week since it closed its doors in April, but all the money on June 5 will be going to charity.

JoeAnna’s House is located next to Kelowna General Hospital and provides a home away from home for families whose loved ones are in the hospital.

Players Choice hopes to raise $3,000 during the event, which begins at 7 p.m.

Local charities get kickstart
Chelsea Powrie - May 25, 2020 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

The First West Foundation and Valley First have launched a $600,000 fund for struggling charities in regions they serve, including $183,000 in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys.

In a press release, the organization noted that the pandemic has been challenging for charitable organizations, with increased demands for services but also a lack of resources.

“These organizations urgently need funds to deliver their programs and services to the community’s most vulnerable during the very difficult circumstances the pandemic has created,” First West Foundation chair Richard Hill said. “Our mission is to help them do what they do best.”

Registered charities focused on addressing food security and basic needs for youth, families and seniors impacted by COVID-19 are eligible to apply.

“Typically, granting applications require detailed information to qualify and then the funds may take several months to be distributed,” said Susan Byrom, executive director of the First West Foundation.

“We know the need in our communities is urgent so we’ve set up these funds as low-barrier—meaning the application process is fast and simple, and funding will be disbursed quickly to address this need.”

Charities focused on food security and basic needs support for youth, families and seniors will receive $500,000, and $10,000 will be parcelled out in $500 grants to charities that complete a profile on Do Some Good here.

In the region Valley First serves, the First West Foundation is distributing $115,000 in community response funding and $23,000 in Community Help Fund grants through the Valley First Community Endowment.

Applications are now being accepted. Charities can request any amount but may not receive all the funding requested. A small committee will review grant applications and make funding recommendations.

Fortis offers learning for kids
Okanagan Edge Staff - May 14, 2020 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

If you’re looking for something a little different when it comes to educating your child, FortisBC has come up with 30 new ways for you do that.

The provincial utility company has modified a selection of its online Energy Leaders school lessons to be available for anyone to easily download for free. They are designed by local teachers and connect with B.C.’s curriculum across grade levels to teach energy concepts like the importance of energy, where it comes from, how it’s used in B.C., and why it’s important to use it safely and responsibly.

“As both a parent and partner of a teacher, I have firsthand experience on how challenging it can be to find local materials that support learning at home,” FortisBC conservation and energy management director Danielle Wensink said in a press release. “Because the Energy Leaders modules are already in line with B.C.’s curriculum, this was an ideal way for us to support parents and educators who are faced with this same challenge.”

Each module contains a complete set of teaching materials, including a lesson plan, slides and handouts that invite students to generate and share ideas, and transfer and apply learning to new situations. The lessons for teenagers tackle topics like climate change, while children can enjoy colouring and activity books.

The modules are available for download, without a password, here.

T-shirts support local biz
Rob Gibson - May 12, 2020 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

A group of concerned Okanagan businesses have joined forces to help support local companies struggling to stay alive during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Daniel Connolly owns and operates Kelowna’s The Local Chemist, so he knows first hand how hard the last couple of months have been.

“We are volunteering our time and talents to help out our community,” he said.

That’s why he joined forces with Cool Hand Print Co. and local designer Ashleigh Green to market the “In This Together,” T-shirt.

“Small business in the Okanagan are sacrificing their livelihood for our health and safety during COVID-19 at great costs to their staff and business,” Connolly said. “One hundred per cent of our profits are going to support these businesses and the staff that support them. We’ve got this, Okanagan. We’re in this together.”

Connolly says the T-shirts cost $40, and 50% of that total will go directly towards participating businesses and the other 50% will towards production and distribution of the shirts.

“It’s a way for people to say, ‘We want your establishment to be around, strictly for the service industry from Vernon to Penticton,'” Connolly said.

The plan also calls for a 10% discount at participating establishments once the ban on social distancing is completely lifted. People who purchase a T-shirt will get the discount if they wear their shirts to the stores once the ban has been lifted.

So far 22 businesses have signed up, and Connolly expects that list to continue to grow, “because we are all in this together.”

All Get Involved Stories