VIDEO: Cowichan United Way breakfast on Sept. 21 talks targets for helping kids, homeless

The focus is on local program with long-term impacts that will address specific Cowichan problems

Success by 6 is one of the agencies the United Way has supported for its work with young children in the Cowichan Valley. (Submitted)

Success by 6 is one of the agencies the United Way has supported for its work with young children in the Cowichan Valley. (Submitted)

The United Way 2017 Cowichan Kickoff breakfast is scheduled for Thursday morning, Sept. 21, at the Ramada Duncan, starting at 7:30 a.m. and running till 9 a.m.

The theme of United Way 2017 is “Improving Lives Locally” and the idea behind this year’s push is to help programs that are already in place and working in Cowichan by supporting them with new grants, according to Ivanna Law, marketing and communications officer for United Way Central &Northern Vancouver Island.

After a hot breakfast at the Ramada, breakfast attendees can enjoy “a 50/50 draw, inspiring speakers, and an engaging program with the opportunity to learn more about United Way and the local impact of your donations,” Law said.

Thanks to generous donors who gave last year, the United Way “is funding 17 life-changing programs in the Cowichan Valley region that are helping improve over 12,000 lives in our community, including vulnerable children, youth, their families, seniors, and individuals experiencing homelessness,” she continued.

“At the breakfast we’ll be talking about our new grants in the community, and what our focus will be in the coming year. The new grants this year have been around kids and poverty, especially in the Cowichan area. We are doing a lot of work on a community plan to target community and homelessness, as we are seeing increasing numbers of people that struggle with housing. There’s a huge housing crisis, obviously. So we’re supporting agencies that are targeting long-term change there.

A few of these programs include an empowerment program that allows girls to connect, express themselves, and be heard; a 41-foot renovated Bluebird bus that provides literacy and learning activities to children who otherwise would have limited tools during their early development; a health centre that delivers medical examinations on a drop-in basis to improve the overall health and wellbeing of Indigenous Cowichan people; a food basket program that delivers protein-rich food baskets sourced from local businesses that will improve the overall health and well-being of low-income families.

In addition to that, a new service has just been launched, she said.

On Monday, Sept. 18, the local United Way, in collaboration with other United Ways across B.C., announced an expanded bc211 service on Vancouver Island. Much like the way 811 connects people to health information and services, 211 helps callers find thousands of community, social, government, and programs.

In addition to the web platform with online chat launched on the Island in June, bc211 now offers its services via phone and text.

Donations have allowed the 211 project to move forward swiftly.

“So many smart, resourceful local agencies in Cowichan rely on United Way to fund services that will help [Cowichan residents] in the coming year. The kickoff event is a great opportunity for our generous donors and supporters to hear what the needs are in the community and how we can all work together to improve lives in the Cowichan region,” Signy Madden, local United Way executive director, said.

Breakfast tickets are $25 each or $225 for a table and are available online at https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/united-way-2017-cowichan-kick off-tickets-36620207025