Auction opens today
Contributed - Feb 13, 2020 - Think Local

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A suite for a Memorial Cup game or a Smile Cycle Tour through Kelowna’s brewery district with 14 of your closest friends?

Those are just a couple of the prize packages that will be up for grabs when the 12th annual Swinging with the Stars event is held on Saturday, Feb. 22, in support of the Central Okanagan Hospice Association.

And here’s the kicker. You don’t even have to be in attendance to bid on the spectacular prize packages—nor do you have to wait until the night of the event.

Image: Contributed

Thanks to the technology known as Givergy that Swinging with the Stars is utilizing this year, anyone with a Wi-Fi connection will be able to bid on silent auction prizes that will go the highest bidder during COHA’s largest fundraising event of the year.

In addition, the bidding window opens today and will run for the next 10 days. It can be found at

“That’s something that we really love with the platform, was just being able to utilize the technology so that we are more accessible everywhere,” COHA fund development co-ordinator Eva Stoffman says. “You don’t necessarily need to be in the room at Swinging with the Stars. If you can’t come on February 22nd, you can still take part in the auction right up until it closes that evening.

“You’ll get the notifications. You’ll get the updates, so that that you can still have that bidding competition and you can out-bid somebody who is in the room. We’re really excited about that.”

There are still a handful of tickets available for the event, which will be held at the Delta Grand Okanagan. Those in attendance will have a crack at the live auction prizes, which include a helicopter ride to play golf at Predator Ridge as well as a party, courtesy of Avalon Event Rentals, for as many as 50 people.

The event itself will feature four individuals or couples and three teams showing off what they have been working with dance instructors for the last few months. The four individuals and couples who are taking part in this year’s event are Harmony Homes’ Jamela Van Steinburg, Advance Dental Group’s Dr. Amanda Sigouin, August Automotive Group’s Matt August, and Upside Cider’s Isaac Potash and Jaye Siegmueller. Groups are from Capital News, Crimson Hair Salon and Invati Yoga Studio.

People in attendance at Swinging with the Stars will purchase a star, which symbolizes a vote, for their favourite performance, but this year anyone and everyone can buy a star for their favourite performer through the Givergy platform. The star purchase window also opens today.

“The platform gives us and the dancers greater exposure, which is wonderful,” Stoffman says, “and it also gives that to our donors and our partners.”

All in all, it gives COHA a chance to raise more money for its compassionate, end-of-life and bereavement services.

“We’re obviously putting out a call to our community to pass it on to others who perhaps don’t live here but maybe there’s a particular item that is of interest to them to come to the Okanagan to enjoy,” COHA executive director Natasha Girard said.

“So the access it’s going to create is quite convenient for many, many people.”

RPR reaches elite status
Contributed - Jan 27, 2020 - Think Local

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(L to R): Carrier’s Kris Nielsen and Mike Gonsalves, RPR Heating & Air Conditioning’s Leonard Nemechek and Terry Olfert, and Carrier’s Casey Yates.

Penticton’s RPR Heating & Air Conditioning is just the third Canadian firm to capture a Circle of Champions Award from Bryant.

RPR Heating & Air Conditioning received the award last May in Indianapolis in recognition of its commitment to quality, leadership and excellence in the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry.

To be eligible for the Circle of Champions designation, a Bryant dealership must first exemplify the highest of technical HVAC excellence and superb customer service levels, achieving factory authorized dealer status. Bryant FADs who have demonstrated superior performance across a number of select scorecard categories are then recognized as Circle of Champions designates.

It was a banner year for the Penticton-based heating and cooling contractor, as it captured the 2019 Business of the Year award from the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce in October.

The Circle of Champions Award is designed to encourage Bryant dealers across North America to strive for superior technical acumen, high levels of customer satisfaction and serve as an honourable contributor to their communities. Bryant is perhaps most proud of the ongoing humanitarian and philanthropic efforts carried out by owners Terry and Heather Olfert. They annually aid the less fortunate and non-profit organizations both in the Okanagan and in developing countries.

“Terry, Heather and the RPR team continue to raise the bar year after year, providing quality heating and air conditioning solutions designed to meet the specific needs of homeowners and businesses in Penticton and surrounding area,” Carrier Enterprise Canada president Mike Gonsalves says. “Fuelled by their dedication and commitment to technical and customer service excellence, Terry, Heather and the RPR team were recognized with the prestigious Bryant Circle of Champions award for their industry and market leadership.

“But while being the best in the heating and air conditioning business is what RPR does, it’s Terry, Heather and the team’s commitment to supporting the communities where they work and live that defines who they are. From countless volunteer hours to supporting multiple charitable organizations and always being there for those in need, it humbles us and makes the entire Bryant Carrier Enterprise team proud to be partnered with Terry, Heather and their outstanding and inspirational team.”

To learn more about RPR Heating & Air Conditioning and its heating, cooling and refrigeration products and services, call 250-492-3677 or visit

Lower your risk of dementia
Contributed - Jan 17, 2020 - Think Local

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Dementia is one of the most heart-wrenching diseases a family can endure.

It is not a preventable disease, but there are some aspects that can be changed to mitigate the risk of getting this terrible affliction, and hearing loss has been deemed the No. 1 modifiable risk factor of dementia.

Dr. Nichole Sorensen, a doctor of audiology and owner of Lakeside Hearing, will discuss the topics of dementia and hearing loss next week. She will be at her Kelowna clinic on Wednesday, Jan. 22, and at the Lake Country clinic on Friday, Jan. 24.

The Brain Hearing Technology Events are free, and you can register for a spot here. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask the questions that matter to them most.

They will also be able to register for a free hearing screening, qualify for a $500 credit toward treatment options and be entered into a draw to win a set of Signia 7X hearing aids valued at $5,390.

The three leading theories behind hearing loss being a risk factor for dementia are:

• Social isolation is the result of those with hearing loss missing parts of conversations and then not taking part in them at all.

• Decreased brain activation occurs when hearing loss sufferers detect less environmental information and therefore get less of it sent to their brain.

• Finally, cognitive overload happens because someone with hearing loss struggles to keep up with the flow of conversation and the brain over exerts itself to try and listen.

Sorensen will be joined by 46-year-old Michelle Davies, who will speak about her life experience with hearing loss and how she has taken steps to maintain her cognitive function with her hearing aids. Davies will also share a personal view on different hearing aid technologies she has tried.

Helping business reach potential
Contributed - Jan 15, 2020 - Think Local

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The IWG Corporate Services team will help you build a road map for your business.

There are plenty of questions that keep small business owners up at night.

Is the health care program good enough?

Why do I keep losing employees after three months?

How am I going to get rid of my lazy business partner?

Do I need a social media policy?

The list goes on and on, which can be rather daunting. Business owners want to do what they are good at and not have to worry about all the “other stuff.” The only problem is the “other stuff” costs them a lot of time, and when it goes wrong, can end up costing them a lot of money.

That is where IWG Corporate Services comes in. It has a team of experts in its brand new family office department that not only answers those questions that are dogging you as you’re trying to go to sleep, but they take care of those potential problems for you before they have a chance to appear.

“We have listened to the voice of business owners in Kelowna and the valley,” IWG Corporate Services president and advisor Jason Netherton said. “They need operational support and guidance for their business. The response has been tremendous.”

IWG, which also includes partners and team members Rich Orzol, Teri Patry, Anthony Haines and Dez Jenic, not only helps companies avoid land mines, but it also sets them up for tremendous growth.

“We help business owners set goals to mark their future success,” IWG Corporate Services’ Sandra Kahle says. “We determine where the business’ growth opportunities are and customize our services to optimize operations and achieve those goals.”

IWG Corporate Services decided to create a “family office” because it felt it is a service that was missing in Kelowna and the surrounding area. There are plenty of businesses that are busy doing work, but their owners do not have the time to complete the vast to-do list that comes with running a business.

“This will allow business owners to sleep better at night and have more growth potential,” IWG Corporate Services’ Lisa Jaffary says.

Not only will IWG Corporate Services take care of that massive to-do list, but it will help businesses make money as well. This frees up business owners and their employees to actually do the work that the business offersand do what they do best. There will be a noticeable return on investment because having appropriate policies and procedures in place can prevent lawsuits.  As an added bonus, it creates a positive working environment thereby assisting with employee retention as well.

Examples of the services IWG Corporate Services has to offer include:

• Business staffing plan: Do you have the right people in the right roles? Is your business cycle cyclical, or do you need staff for an upcoming project? Know when you need to hire, where to look and how to hire.

• Recruitment process: How successful is your recruitment process? Do you hire, then fire in three months? Do you hire relatives? Do you know how to check references?

• On-boarding process: Introduction to co-workers, computer system, tour of the business premises, convey corporate goals and vision, where the muster station is, where the fire extinguisher is kept, etc.

• Hierarchal structure: Who reports to whom? Have you developed a corporate flow chart?

• Employment contracts: Have a comprehensive employment agreement in place to protect the employer and employee. Include targets and deliverables, confidentiality agreement, expense reimbursement policy and social media policy.

That is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to business owners’ responsibilities, which is why IWG Corporate Services has created the comprehensive service for business owners.

For more information on IWG Corporate Services’ new family office, call 250-869-8158 or e-mail [email protected].

Middle years done differently
Contributed - Jan 14, 2020 - Think Local

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Willowstone’s Middle Years Lane opened in September.

As local private school Willowstone Academy launched into its 25th anniversary this year, the community celebrated the addition of a major growth initiative for its Grade 6 to 9 students, their own separate facility on the Lakeshore Road property known as Middle Years Lane.

“Our students appreciate their own, distinct space,” says the school’s Chief Learning Officer, Karine Veldhoen. “They value that feeling of being still part of our bigger community, yet separate. The middle years are tender, pivotal years. Students still need a lot of adult coaching in their life, but they’re trying to form their own identity and break out a little bit on their own.”

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Willowstone Academy provides a holistic education and care environment that meets the individual needs of students, which it hopes will develop a child’s mind, body and spirit, and build a foundation for the future.

“In our middle years program, our expectation is that students are increasingly challenged to move from rote-learning and direct instruction into self-directed inquiry that tackles real-world problems, which inevitably explore creative solutions that affect real and palpable change in themselves and their communities,” explains middle years team lead Dave Balfour. “When students craft compelling communications through dramatic arts with modern-day Shakespeare, use NASA technologies to build robots for Mars or design logos that illustrate belonging for their House team, they are moving from being proficient students to powerful learners. That’s what we do at Willowstone Academy.”

Middle Years Lane has four classrooms for each of the grades, and the students move among them as if they were in a traditional middle school while still staying connected with their younger peers in chapel, big buddy activities and recess play.

“At Willowstone Academy, we hold the space for our young adolescents to explore their values, identity and faith with teachers who are deeply invested in unfolding their potential,” Veldhoen says. “These healthy explorations are intentionally designed to include ongoing opportunities for healthy outdoor and extra-curricular play, powerful service-oriented leadership opportunities, plus social and school spirit experiences springing from multi-grade houses.

“Children in Grades 6 to 9 are both capable and vulnerable. Our school acknowledges these developmental realities.”

A Willowstone Academy education starts at birth, with a brand new Infant and Toddler Childcare program opening in September 2020. Moving up through pre-school, pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten to Grade 9 programming, the school offers up to 12 months of seamless education and care for families.

Public registration for the 2020-21 school year will open on Wednesday, Feb. 19. Families are invited to visit to learn more and book their tour online.

Hearing tied to dementia
Contributed - Jan 08, 2020 - Think Local

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Typically, when we consider dementia, we tend to picture ourselves or our loved ones forgetting words, locations and faces.

Furthermore, we think of difficulty with mood regulation, planning and becoming more reliant on others. Even at the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, a sufferer’s memory, thought or motor processing, and confidence can be affected.

There are many factors that can impact the onset and progression of dementia. Hearing loss is not only known to be one of these factors, but has been deemed the No. 1 most modifiable risk factor of dementia, according to recent studies.

Lakeside Hearing and their team of experienced audiologists want to help maintain everyone’s hearing and cognitive health.

How is hearing loss impacting dementia? Although not entirely understood, there are three leading ideas.

• The first is social isolation, which is the result of those with hearing loss missing parts of conversations and then not taking part in them at all.

• The next is decreased brain activation, which occurs when hearing loss sufferers detect less environmental information and therefore get less of it sent to your brain.

• Finally, cognitive overload happens because someone with hearing loss struggles to keep up with the flow of conversation and the brain over exerts itself to try and listen.

Dr. Nichole Sorensen, a doctor of audiology and owner of Lakeside Hearing, will discuss the aforementioned topics on Jan. 22 at the Kelowna clinic and on Jan. 24 at the Lake Country clinic. She will offer suggestions on how one can help protect and enhance cognitive health through proper hearing management.

She will be joined by 46-year-old Michelle Davies, who will speak about her real life experience with hearing loss and how she has taken steps to maintain her cognitive function with her hearing aids. Davies will also share a personal view on different hearing aid technologies she has tried.

Attendees will have the opportunity to ask the questions that matter most to them, as well as register for a free hearing screening, qualify for a $500 credit toward treatment options and even be entered into a draw to win a set of Signia 7X hearing aids valued at $5,390.

Register for your free spot today at

YMCA there for families
Contributed - Dec 09, 2019 - Think Local

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With a goal of spreading some holiday cheer, the YMCA of Okanagan hosted a free event for families called Crafts, Cookies and Carols this past Saturday at its Penticton child care centre.

“We are happy to be a part of the Penticton community, and we’re grateful to share the holiday spirit with families,” YMCA child care general manager Danielle Miranda says. “What better way to do that than to spend the afternoon enjoying festive treats, crafts and activities with Santa!”

The event took place at the YMCA’s Queens Park Child Care Centre at 630 Birch Ave., which opened to the community in the spring of 2019 offering care for ages 0-12 as well as preschool. 

Even Santa made an appearance, handing out candy canes and goodies to children in attendance.

The YMCA’s Queens Park Child Care Centre is relatively new to the community, but the local charity has been operating programs in Penticton for children, youth and families for more than 15 years, and is invested in helping families in the area realize their potential.

“At the YMCA of Okanagan, our goal is to build healthy, connected communities,” Miranda explains. “We are dedicated to helping children and families realize their potential, and that begins when a child is in their earliest years. We want to make sure families have the supports they need to receive quality care and education for their children and to remain connected in their community throughout every stage of their life—without financial means holding them back—which is what our local services and events like this are centred around.”

The charity’s local programs include after-school support for teens with autism, career development services, youth mindfulness services, family playtime and more—all offered free to the community.

And the Y’s child care centre is also accessible to all, with financial assistance available to families who cannot afford the full fee for care. 

“We want families to know that we are here for them,” Miranda says. “Whether it is an event like this, care for their children, or a support network of people who believe in them, the YMCA is here for families.”

Learn more about the variety of YMCA services available in Penticton, including child care and community programs.

Eye care answer is Vivid
Contributed - Dec 02, 2019 - Think Local

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Amy Jasper is loving life after having eye surgery at Vivid Laser Centre.

Amy Jasper had always been hesitant to get laser eye surgery done.

Whether it was fear of the procedure, the cost or a lack of time to fit it into her life, Jasper was content to wear contact lenses or glasses for the last two decades.

She finally decided enough was enough. She was recently sitting 10 feet across the room from her parents—without glasses or contacts—and she couldn’t even make out the shape of her dad’s head. She did a little research online and talked to her family doctor, who recommended Dr. Ron Baldassare at Kelowna’s Vivid Laser Centre.

The 45-year-old Jasper had the procedure done on Sept. 12, and all she could think about afterwards was why she hadn’t done it sooner.

“I’m over the moon,” Jasper says. “I was a little bit of a nut afterwards, feeling over the moon and ridiculously excited. I was blown away by how different it was.

“Having the corrective surgery and being able to use my eyes without glasses or contact lenses was a miracle, really. The machine itself, it takes only five minutes or so. You’re on that table for five minutes, and then you can see. Why did I wait so long?”

Jasper felt more at ease with Dr. Baldassare going into the procedure because he is also a corneal specialist. At first she was focused only on price, but she ultimately realized that wasn’t the correct approach to take.

“It’s your eyes,” she explains. “You don’t necessarily want the best price. You want the best results. And having a corneal specialist was extra assurance knowing that if there is something that is unusual or goes wrong, God forbid, then he’s the one who’s going to be able to deal with it thanks to his expertise and knowledge.”

She says Dr. Baldassare was friendly and conversational, and his staff was the same way.

“The staff were all great that way, all very friendly, welcoming and approachable,” she says. “I didn’t feel any judgment if I asked a dumb question. It was just a good experience all around.”

Jasper said she was able to see the day after the procedure. She had to wear clear, plastic eye covers for the first 24 hours and during the first few nights so that she didn’t rub her eyes in her sleep. She had trouble seeing objects close to her eyes for the first couple of weeks, but that improved over time to where it’s no longer an issue.

Jasper is looking forward to going on camping trips with her family. No longer does she have to be careful when splashing in the water with her three kids for fear of losing her contacts.

“Poor eyesight is a type of disability,” Jasper says. “To suddenly be cured of it, it still just blows me away.”

Vivid Laser Centre now has financing for patients who want to have the procedure done but are concerned only about the cost. It is now able to do the procedure for as low as $42 a month on approved credit.

Photo: Contributed
Dr. Ron Baldassare offers laser eye surgery financing for as low as $42 per month.

Recycle with EcoEase
Contributed - Nov 27, 2019 - Think Local

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Do you know which items can be placed in your blue bin for recycling purposes and which ones cannot?

The list of ineligible materials is longer than you might think, which is why Quentin Thiessen and his wife Sarah have started a business they hope will help both you and the environment.

EcoEase Recycling will pick up the items you are not allowed to put in the recycling bin and haul them away to their proper resting place.

“Obviously we’re looking to run a profitable business, but at the same time we want to do what we can to help the environment,” Thiessen says. “We only have one planet to live on so we’d better do our best to look after it. Shortages in city resources have forced them to create new rules and unfortunately it’s been made more difficult for households to recycle these materials. Our goal is to provide a service that makes it easier for everyone, and hopefully more possible to fit into their already too busy schedule.

“A lot of people probably just trash these items because it is so much of an extra chore. With our landfill already nearing maximum use, we’re obligated to do everything we can to reduce our impact. Why sacrifice more of our valuable land for a new landfill before we have to? If our service encourages even just one Kelowna resident to make better choices when generating trash we will consider our venture a success.”

Did you know, for example, that you cannot put glass, styrofoam, chip bags, bread bags, shrink wrap, plastic shopping bags and bubble wrap into your blue recycling bin? All of those should be going to recycling depots—as if your life weren’t already busy enough. EcoEase will also help you if you have more recycling than your blue bin can handle.

Thiessen says EcoEase will also take your empties back to the depot for you if you don’t want to do it. All proceeds collected will be donated to charity.

The idea for EcoEase Recycling was born when Sarah informed Quentin that the plastic grocery bag he was holding in their kitchen could neither be thrown in the garbage nor put in the recycling bin.

“As soon as we were no longer allowed to put them in there,” Thiessen says, “that’s when all of this kind of started to aggravate me.”

Thiessen soon had a bin full of similar items and was looking for a way to get them to a recycling depot.

“I wanted to call somebody and have them come and take my stuff away and recycle it for me,” he says. “I didn’t want to spend the time going to the depot and doing it myself. I don’t have a lot of spare time as it is.

“I did a search and tried to find somebody that would do it, and there really wasn’t anybody. So I thought maybe that’s not a bad idea for a business. And here we are.”

All you have to do is call or text 250-258-2300 to get the process started. The cost of one bag or bin is $22, and the rest can be negotiated from there. All you have to do is bag your clean recyclables and leave it on the curb. EcoEase will pick it up and sort the materials for you.

“Our goal in the end is to try to reduce our carbon footprint and maybe get an electric truck,” Thiessen says. “At this time it’s not in the budget, but we want to try and do everything as eco-friendly as we can. We feel that less trips to the depot is already a step in the right direction.”

Energy efficiency takes a team
Contributed - Nov 23, 2019 - Think Local

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“Our goal is to continuously improve our operations. By taking a collaborative approach, our FortisBC key account manager helps us identify and fund energy-efficiency opportunities,” said Molycop Canada senior engineer Mike Gregson (right), along with Molycop Canada metallurgical engineer Lukas Fleming (centre) and FortisBC account manager Rajoo Jagtap (left).

Practical advice, expertise and ongoing customer support provided by FortisBC means Molycop Canada can keep growing its business while optimizing its energy needs, especially for natural gas.

With operations across the globe, Molycop is the largest and most experienced supplier of mining consumables and associated services worldwide. At its Canadian plant in Kamloops, alloy steel bars are forged into grinding balls in a proprietary process that relies on natural gas furnaces that operate non-stop.

This energy-intensive process has united Molycop Canada and FortisBC in an ongoing quest to boost efficiency while ensuring profitability and sustainability.

“Our goal is to continuously improve our operations,” Molycop Canada senior engineer Mike Gregson says. “By partnering with us—and taking a collaborative approach—our FortisBC key account manager helps us identify and fund energy-efficiency opportunities.”

Continuous improvement results in energy savings

Natural gas has been a part of Molycop Canada’s operations since 1986, but it’s been in the last decade that the company has deepened its commitment to energy efficiency. FortisBC has been there to support them, from pre-approval for energy studies to incentives for energy-efficiency upgrades.

In 2012 Molycop Canada was one of the first participants in FortisBC’s industrial energy efficiency programs. With incentives from FortisBC, a plant-wide energy audit of the Kamloops facility was completed.

Recommendations resulting from this energy study helped them design and build a second, more energy-efficient plant beside their existing facility in 2015. Molycop Canada received a combined incentive of $190,000 to implement energy-efficiency measures, which are estimated to save about 22,500 gigajoules of natural gas annually.

The pursuit of improvements continued in 2017, when plant-wide audits of both facilities and then a feasibility study recommended upgrades in the original facility. FortisBC supported the studies and capital upgrades with combined incentives of approximately $250,000, which is expected to reduce natural gas usage by 8,900 gigajoules per year once completed this year.

“Our key account manager, Rajoo Jagtap, helped us understand how we could connect with FortisBC to benefit from its programs and incentives,” Gregson says. “He made it easy to navigate the FortisBC application process, and the energy audit approval process was quick; four days from start to finish.”

Better for business; better for the environment

As part of Molycop Canada’s corporate best practices, energy-saving measures implemented at one facility are communicated and promoted across the globe. This is key to the company’s commitment to improve its environmental performance and use natural resources more efficiently across all of its operations.

In Kamloops, Molycop Canada continues to actively explore energy-saving opportunities that fit with its goals to improve processes, increase production and remain competitive in the market.

Along with the 2015 plant expansion, it has implemented several low or no-cost energy-saving measures identified in the energy studies, resulting in estimated savings of 13,500 gigajoules of natural gas per year.

“Optimizing our use of natural gas and reducing our carbon footprint are flip-sides of the same coin,” Molycop Canada metallurgical engineer Lukas Fleming says. “We look for solutions that make sustainable sense both for our business and for the environment.”

More information about FortisBC rebates and custom programs for commercial and industrial customers can be found on the company’s website.

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