Merrifields give to college
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 20, 2022 - Get Involved

The Merrifield Family Foundation has donated $100,000 to Okanagan College’s new Health Sciences Centre.

The gift to the Our Students, Your Health campaign will support technology upgrades and new equipment for eight professions, including pharmacy technician assistants and nurses to therapist assistants.

Kelowna entrepreneur Lane Merrifield was named an Okanagan College honorary fellow in 2012, and he wanted his family’s donation to help those who will be doing hands-on learning.

“I know I’ve benefited from hands-on learning in my career, and health care is no different,” Merrifield said. “Having opportunities to try your skills in learning labs will greatly enhance students’ skills and confidence.”

“Our family values the role frontline health-care professionals play in supporting us all to live healthy lives, and we’re proud to be part of this incredible new centre that will serve our community.”

The fundraising campaign for the new centre, which is now in operation, has reached $4.25 million. Another $750,000 is needed to hit the $5 million goal.

Film festival for great cause
Nicholas Johansen - Jan 20, 2022 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

A Kelowna-based non-profit is hosting its third annual film festival fundraiser on Friday, and it is once again going virtual due to the pandemic.

Beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, the Wild and Scenic Film Festival will go live online and includes the streaming of 12 films. All the funds raised through the festival will benefit Elevation Outdoors, an organization that helps local youth learn a variety of sports that may otherwise be inaccessible to them.

“With the restrictions continuing on, we are happy to be providing a community event that may give people something to do with small groups of friends and family,” Elevation Outdoors executive director Mike Greer said.

“Proceeds from the event help Elevation Outdoors cover the costs of delivering our programs that create opportunities for youth in our community.”

Following the live stream Friday night, the films will be available for the following five days to those who’ve signed up.

“Some of the films highlight the power of sport to change a life with films on surfing, hiking, canoeing and skiing,” Greer said. “Other films look more at the environment and conservation and how to open up the outdoors for groups that are historically underrepresented in the outdoors. The films are based in Canada, the USA, and around the world taking our viewers to places like the Pacific Islands, Norway and Mozambique.”

Tickets for the streaming film festival are $25 for households of up to two people, or $40 for households of three or more.

The annual film festival fundraiser was also held virtually last year due to the pandemic. This year, Elevation Outdoors is also holding a silent auction from Jan. 21 to 28.

Prior to the pandemic, Elevation Outdoors would hold its On the Lawn four-week lawn bowling tournament, which would regularly raise upwards of $20,000. The pandemic has put a stop to that event for the time being.

Affordable internet for seniors
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 19, 2022 - Get Involved

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Low-income seniors in B.C. and Alberta will now have the opportunity to receive high speed internet for less than $10 a month, all thanks to the Telus.

The B.C.-based company is offering eligible seniors one of two Internet for Good plans with unlimited data: Internet 25 or Internet 50 for $9.95 or $19.95 per month, respectively. Seniors are eligible for the offer if they are receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement from the federal government.

“Our country’s seniors have contributed significantly to the fabric of this nation, having built and supported the infrastructure, economy and social services that we enjoy today,” Telus CEO Darren Entwhistle said in a press release. “Disconcertingly, these same aging Canadians have been disproportionately impacted throughout the health emergency system as many do not have the means to stay connected to loved ones and support networks in order to stay safe. 

“Through Internet for Good for Seniors we are providing some of our most vulnerable Canadians with access to the vital tools and resources they need to stay safely and meaningfully connected.”

Existing Telus customers who enrol in the Internet for Good program will have their monthly bill lowered to the cost of the plan they select.

Eligible seniors can apply for Internet for Good online here and are required to provide a copy of their Old Age Security T4A (OAS) that identifies them as a GIS recipient.

Projections indicate more than 400,000 seniors across B.C. and Alberta will be eligible for the discount.

Tree of Hope raises $400K
Rob Gibson - Jan 19, 2022 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

Kelowna’s Tree of Hope not only lit up the holiday season but also raised $400,000 for charity.

The Tree of Hope symbolizes the start of the holiday season and this year the fundraising was for women at risk within our city.

For the first time ever, two charities were selected as recipients for the Tree of Hope campaign, Karis Support Society & Now Canada. This year’s campaign focused on raising awareness and elevating the conversation around women at risk and highlighting the invaluable work these organizations do.

“Tree of Hope 2021 allowed our community to come together to help highlight, address and elevate the conversation of women at risk in Kelowna. We are grateful for the work of Karis Support Society, Now Canada and the #RaisingHope initiative. With strategic partnerships like this, coupled with community stepping up and leaning into conversations that matter, our mutual impact will have ripples for years to come,” Stober Foundation president Ken Stober said.

This year’s fundraiser was also a collaboration between the Landmark District and the TD Bank Group. Every dollar raised was matched by the Stober Foundation and the TD Bank Group up to $100,000 dollars.

“For over 24 years, our team at the Landmark District has been honoured to work with TD Bank Group in giving back to the community,” Stober Group chief executive officer Dave McAnerney said. “Each year, we identify a charity that is making a difference in our community and that needs our support. Our efforts to make a difference were amplified considerably in 2020 and again in 2021 when the Stober Foundation lent support with a matching gift campaign.

“The idea of matching donations was to encourage “giving” at this important time of year- and it’s working!”

Paws It Forward to the rescue
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 07, 2022 - Get Involved

Photos: Contributed

Kelowna’s Paws It Forward recently acquired a large group of dogs and cats from Manitoba, preventing them from near certain death, and it is hoping the public can help out and get a chance to win some post-holiday cash at the same time.

The not-for-profit group received 61 dogs and eight cats from frigid Manitoba earlier this week, and that number is expected to grow since several of them are pregnant. Three have visible injuries that will most likely require surgery as well.

Paws It Forward is conducting a 50/50 raffle until the end of January to raise money for the pets, who have all been moved to warm foster homes. They are also spayed or neutered, vaccinated, dewormed and given permanent identification.

Money raised from the 50/50 raffle will go towards all of those procedures as well as items like puppy pads and food. Cash donations are always accepted, and tax receipts will be issued for $10 or more.

The animals received this week will go through a minimum two-week holding period before being put up for adoption. More information about Paws It Forward adoptions can be found here.

The 50/50 draw will be held on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. You can get your tickets here.

RBC jumpstarting youth careers
Cindy White - Jan 07, 2022 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed
(L to R): YMCA Jumpstart graduate Mica Garossino, RBC regional vice-president Courtney Hesse and YMCA Jumpstart graduate Isaac Hopegood.

The RBC Foundation is continuing its support of youth employment programs at the YMCA of Okanagan.

A $50,000 donation builds on the commitment that began in 2019 to connect young people with community leaders and partners across the private and public sectors.

“Annually, our YMCA Youth Employment Programs connect over 100 young adults between the ages of 16 to 30 to meaningful and purposeful employment in the Central and South Okanagan,” YMCA Community Programs Division general manager Cassandra Thomas said in a press release.

“At the YMCA, we believe youth are the solution to the labour shortage in BC and we are working hard to build young people’s confidence and skills, and to give them a competitive edge for the world of work.”

Ray Warren, who is RBC’s vice-president of commercial financial services, says the partnership delivers on RBC’s purpose to help clients thrive and communities prosper.

“With a continued vision to be among the world’s most trusted and successful financial institutions, it is critical, in my opinion, that we look to find ways to give back to what matters most,” he said.

The YMCA has been offering employment services for more than 20 years, free of charge to qualified participants.

Find out more here or email [email protected].

Chamber board nominees wanted
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 06, 2022 - Get Involved

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Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is once again seeking new board members.

The chamber is looking for volunteers from “diverse professional backgrounds who are elected to the board in order to establish the strategic direction for the organization, in accordance with our bylaws.”

The chamber wants professionals with multiple skill sets to ensure its long-term health and success, “setting a tone for organizational effectiveness, innovation and vision. The directors have their pulses on regional and national trends and help us to support thriving local economic conditions.”

The nomination window for new directors closes on Feb. 4. More information can be found here.

Big bidder provides shelter help
Cindy White - Jan 06, 2022 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

It’s a record donation at a time when it’s sorely needed.

The Kelowna Women’s Shelter has been dealing with a spike in demand for its services during the pandemic.

Thanks to the generosity of the winning bidder, $7,900 has been raised through the annual Castanet and Premier Jewellery and Loans diamond auction.

That’s the largest donation in the six-year history of the auction.

Premier manager Martin Strasser offered up a pair of diamond earrings with an appraised value of $10,700, and bidding started at $500.

“It’s awesome to have community leaders such as Martin (Strasser), willing to lend a helping hand,” said Graham Kerr, the development co-ordinator for Kelowna Women’s Shelter.

“Donations around this time of year are extremely important just because in January we really see an increase in the numbers of women and children needing access to our shelter, our programs, our services. So having the additional income to have additional shifts for some of our part-time counsellors or part-time outreach workers, it’s huge.”

So why did Strasser decide to support the women’s shelter?

“We were looking for something that was maybe under-represented and resonated with our clientele. It kind of got presented to us once about the women’s shelter, and it just kind of instantly clicked,” Strasser said.

“Most of us are blessed with a level of stability in our lives and the fact that we can go home and feel safe and be surrounded by trusted people. I imagined what that would be like if that wasn’t true.”

Kerr said a significant portion of the $7,900 donation will go towards outreach programs. COVID-19 has created barriers to accessing the shelter’s services. Outreach workers are able to meet with women in the community, at their convenience and location, to provide advice on ways to get out of their situation.

There has been a spike in reported domestic violence incidents during the pandemic, especially when stay-at-home orders were in effect.

“You would have battered women who were stuck in their homes with their abuser. That is just an absolute recipe for disaster,” said Kerr.

The women’s shelter became even more important and saw a sharp increase in people needing their help. That posed a significant challenge.

They had to reach out to local hotels to accommodate the growing need, at the same time those hotel rooms were also in demand to house evacuees from wildfires and floods.

You can help the Kelowna Women’s Shelter by making a donation of high demand items by contacting Kerr at 778-478-7774 x307 or [email protected].

You can also volunteer at the shelter or through other support programs. Kerr adds they will need more volunteers when the new shelter in West Kelowna opens in the fall of this year.

Van gifted to deserving woman
Jon Manchester - Dec 22, 2021 - Get Involved

Anne Mae Rea’s tireless efforts to feed hungry kids earned the Vernon woman a new set of wheels on Tuesday.

Rea was nominated by Emily Vankeimpema and friends at Faith Baptist Church in Vernon Hyundai’s Paying It Forward Christmas car giveaway.

Rea recently had her vehicle stolen, and she was surprised with the keys to a “new to her” Mazda MPV minivan at the dealership.

A friend had asked her out for coffee, but said they had to stop at the dealership to “pick up a parcel.”

That parcel was Rea’s new ride.

Vankeimpema described Rea as “the most serving person ever … she never asks for anything in return.”

For about 20 years, she has been preparing sandwiches for students at Harwood Elementary, and as those kids moved into secondary school she followed with a breakfast program at W.L. Seaton Secondary, where she also prepares a free lunch on Tuesdays.

“None of this could happen without her,” Vankeimpema said.

Vernon Hyundai general manager Nathan Mackintosh said Rea’s name was chosen from 75 nominations received in the giveaway.

“Thank you for everything you do for the community,” he told the shocked winner.

Rea was practically speechless when she walked in the door to be met by friends and relatives as the dealership’s Mike Weaver handed over the keys.

The prize included a 12-month powertrain warranty, three months of paid insurance and a full tank of gas.

Rea’s previous vehicle was stolen from the church parking lot last month.

SilverStar donates again and again
Jon Manchester - Dec 21, 2021 - Get Involved

Photo: Contributed

With a $5,000 donation to the North Valley Gymnastics Club, whose gym was destroyed by fire on Oct. 31, SilverStar’s Play Forever Fund has donated more than $140,000 to local non-profits since March 2019.

“With the generous contributions of our guests, other community members and matches from provincial and federal governments we have been able to match another $103,000 to the $140,000 Play Forever has donated,” SilverStar spokesperson Chantelle Deacon said.

Recipients have included the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation, United Way, Canadian Mental Health Organization and many more.

This holiday season, the fund and Community Foundation of the North Okanagan are asking locals to join them in helping feed those who will be relying on the food bank.

SilverStar and an anonymous donor are both matching donations, up to $10,000—tripling every dollar the public donates.

“Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen food prices soar, food production and distribution have been disrupted, and many people have turned to the food banks for help for the first time,” the CFNO said in a press release.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to the Vernon Salvation Army Food Bank.

As well, the Play Forever Fund has partnered with the CFNO to raise money for the Red Cross, donating $5,000 that was matched by two donors to total $15,000 towards flood recovery in B.C.

With that money then matched again by the federal and provincial governments, the $15,000 raised locally turned into $45,000.

After the local gymnastics club fire, Silver Star stepped up to help.

“The North Valley Gymnastics Club is such an important part of our community, and we know the very positive impact it has on so many kids and teens’ development,” Deacon said.

The resort continues to support the VJH Foundation throughout the year, and last week donated another $20,000 to the organization.

“Supporting our local hospital is very important to us,” Deacon said. “There is always a demand for new medical equipment and upgrades. The VJH Foundation is a pillar in our community and we encourage anyone who can, to donate.”

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