Day of Caring helps Alex House

by Tracy Green on May 29, 2015 Comments Off on Day of Caring helps Alex House
BCAA employees breaking ground at Alex House as part of The Vancouver Sun United Way Day of Caring event.

BCAA employees breaking ground at Alex House as part of The Vancouver Sun United Way Day of Caring event.

What do you do when you need some heavy lifting on a project? Call United Way to help organize some community muscle through The Vancouver Sun United Way Day of Caring Program.  That’s exactly what Alexandra Neighbourhood House in Surrey did this past week to help get things in top shape for the summer season and get ready to welcome the community to their 41st Annual Alexandra Festival in Crescent Beach happening this Saturday, May 30th. The Vancouver Sun United Way Day of Caring program brings together United Way funded agencies with United Way donors to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities. It’s a great way for donors to see how their support is making a difference. And for our agencies, it’s a great way to get a specific project done – like a beautification project – by a team of enthusiastic volunteers. On Tuesday, we broke a record with the largest number of volunteers showing up for a Vancouver Sun United Way Day of Caring event. 70 volunteers from BCAA transformed Surrey’s Alexandra Neighbourhood House with a one-day makeover. With help from friends On Side Restoration and Telus, BCAA employees built benches and picnic tables, turned over gardens and spruced up cabins with a fresh coat of paint.  One of the highlights of the day was the addition of an outdoor music wall for the kids that visit Alex House. Alexandra Neighbourhood House is funded in part by United Way of the Lower Mainland. Alex House provides programs, services, community events for people of all ages, abilities and culture on the Semiahmoo Peninsula and beyond. If you are in the area, why not stop by and celebrate community at the 41st Annual Alexandra Festival, Saturday May 30, 11am to 5pm at Camp Alexandra in Crescent Beach.

Tracy GreenDay of Caring helps Alex House

B.C. seniors struggling

by Tracy Green on May 22, 2015 Comments Off on B.C. seniors struggling

B.C.’s Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, released a seniors housing report last week that demonstrates a genuine need for increased financial support for low and moderate income seniors in this province. The report provides 18 recommendations on ways to assist seniors with reducing the burden of housing costs and providing more options for seniors to ensure they can live as independently as possible for as long as possible. According to the report, 93 percent of B.C. seniors live independently and their greatest concern is financial need. Half of seniors in our Province live on $24,000 per year or less and more than 50,000 seniors are living on $20,000 or less. Average rents for a one-bedroom apartment vary from a high of $1,038 in Vancouver to a low of $547 in Quesnel, meaning that seniors are making ends meet by either living in substandard housing or foregoing other basic needs. While this report focuses on the growing housing needs of seniors around the province, it also speaks to the need for options that allow seniors to age in place, close to the communities they are familiar with. According to a Vancouver Sun article by columnist Daphne Bramhan, “A substantial percentage of low-income seniors are prematurely moved to more expensive and in-demand beds in residential care facilities — nursing homes — because of an illogical, ill-founded regulation.” United Way managed program, Better at Home, provides seniors with a variety of supports designed to help them age independently in their homes and remain connected to their community. Another factor greatly affecting the health of seniors is issue of social isolation. Earlier this year, the Canadian National Seniors Council (NSC) met to consider ways to encourage and facilitate communities to establish meaningful contact with socially isolated seniors in their neighborhoods. Their report,“Social Isolation of Seniors” provides a summary of the consultation findings as well as measures to help address this social issue.  According to the report, “approximately 50 percent of people over the age of 80 report feeling lonely”. This report, along with the B.C. Seniors Advocate report, calls for greater commitment from all levels of government to address seniors housing options and ensure that elderly citizens are encouraged to age in place.                              

Tracy GreenB.C. seniors struggling

United Way welcomes new VP

by Tracy Green on May 13, 2015 Comments Off on United Way welcomes new VP

Stephen WebsterStephen Webster is United Way of the Lower Mainland’s new Vice-President of Marketing and Communications.  He will join on June 29, 2015. Webster is a dynamic marketing professional who has dedicated his career to design, education, and business. He was most recently Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Vancouver Art Gallery where he has successfully built attendance and membership through traditional, social and integrated marketing strategies. Prior to that, Webster was recruited from Ireland by Vancouver Film School (VFS) to develop and lead the Digital Design department and build the school’s Game Design program. In 2006, he established the VFS marketing, communications and distribution departments building the brand so that the school now attracts students from over 76 countries. In 2010, Webster’s work at VFS was shortlisted for the BCAMA’s Marketer of the Year Award. Prior to immigrating to Canada, he co-founded the software company Epionet whose clients include BMW, Siemens, and Bertelsmann (Germany). Webster is a graduate from Dublin’s National College of Art & Design and earned a Masters of Business Administration from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Webster has received numerous awards for design and education, is an active contributor to the community and has advised on projects for charitable organizations that include Dublin’s AIDS Alliance, Canadian Anti-Racist Education and Research Society, Vancouver Heritage Foundation, Vancouver Maritime Museum, and Gallery Gachet. “Stephen’s expertise in marketing, team-building, and innovative strategy will be a huge asset for United Way of the Lower Mainland, and for our donors and community partners,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland.  “We’re thrilled.”

Tracy GreenUnited Way welcomes new VP

We are building strong communities together

by Tracy Green on May 12, 2015 Comments Off on We are building strong communities together

welcomelunchsmall In her day job, 30 year old Oge Anoliefoh is passionate about the environment at Vancouver Airport Authority. In her job as an environmental technician, she is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance in areas such as air quality, water quality, and hazardous materials management Outside of work, she’s passionate about her community environment and is an avid volunteer. “I’ve always been very passionate about volunteering and giving back to the community,” she said. “And I also donate to charitable organizations like United Way.” Recently Oge volunteered at United Way’s Welcome to Refugee lunches. She spent the afternoon of April 16 painting flowers on children’s faces at the Vancouver location hosted by Tecumseh Elementary School. “When I heard about the event I jumped on it right away because I wanted to somehow contribute to welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada and didn’t know how to help.” Oge’s mother and father immigrated to Canada from Nigeria before she was born so she has a sense of what it’s like to arrive in a new country with a new language, different weather, and new ways and customs via her parents stories. She felt it was important to volunteer at the Welcome to Syrian Refugee lunch because “we want them to know that Canada is a safe place for them to live and they can depend on people like United Way and volunteers like myself to know that they will be welcomed with open arms. This is a place where they can finally relax.” She saw the lunch as an example of the good work that United Way does in the community. “United way does a lot of things for families who need a little extra help…We are all human and we all have different experiences and circumstances that can make things difficult.” “United Way does a lot of things for families who need a little extra help. For people who are more privileged, United Way is the perfect opportunity to give back and help build people back up.” Thank you Oge! yvr

Tracy GreenWe are building strong communities together

How your influence can live on

by Tracy Green on May 12, 2015 Comments Off on How your influence can live on

David Black David Black has a long history of work in social justice. He is president of MoveUP representing about 12,000 union members at public and private sector companies in British Columbia. David has included a gift in his will to his charity of choice: United Way of the Lower Mainland. “It gives both my wife and I comfort to know that our presence and influence will continue on after we’ve passed,” said David Black. Throughout David’s career, he has been involved with non-profits, volunteering time when he was younger and had fewer monetary assets, and donating funds as he got older and more established. “In my role with MoveUP, it has become very clear to me that the quality of our members’ lives is just as important in the workplace as it is in our communities. In order to help our members improve their lives, it’s important to help them understand the importance of giving back and what better way to do that than through a gift in their Will.” explains David. “We decided very early on that we wanted to bring up our kids in better communities. And that means supporting services in the community, specifically those supported by United Way.” When our children are a little older we plan to discuss with them our plans. David wants his children to understand the importance of community involvement and giving back to community. Through his work with various philanthropic organizations over the years, David has learned what a difference a gift in a Will can make. “I knew what a difference a significant estate gift could make to the charitable organizations I had been involved with. We decided that when we no longer needed our assets, we could really make a big difference by leaving a gift in our Will to the charities we supported.” David also believes that most property owners in the Lower Mainland, don’t realize what assets they have and what could happen to those assets after you and your family have passed on. “Of course people want to make sure their families are looked after first. Additionally, I would encourage people to think about even a small gift in their Will to organizations they support.” Leaving a gift to a charitable organization can significantly reduce your taxes and in many cases you can leave more to your family and loved ones.” David and his wife both recognize how fortunate they are and want to share that with their community. When it comes time for you to prepare your will, get some advice: talk to a financial planner and a lawyer. Review and update your Will regularly. It is a living document that will change over your lifetime. Your influence can live on after you have gone and what a difference you can make to an organization that shares your values.

Tracy GreenHow your influence can live on

Learning the art of the possible

by Pam on May 8, 2015 Comments Off on Learning the art of the possible

    United Way - Pods classroom “Dwell in Possibility” wrote the poet Emily Dickinson. That is, in a nutshell, what participants of the United Way Public Policy Institute (UWPPI) get to do when they meet each month at UBC Robson Square—the venue sponsor for this innovative six-month training program which equips non-profit leaders on how to influence the public policy process. United Way is grateful to be able to host the program for the 5th consecutive year at UBC Robson Square. UBC is part of an elite group of exceptional supporters known as United Way Top Contributors who each raise more than $225,000 to help United Way create possibilities for kids, families, and seniors in our community. UBC, its employees, unions, and students are passionate about supporting United Way. “It is our pleasure to partner with UWPPI for our 5th year as meeting room sponsor highlighting UBC’s ongoing commitment to the United Way,” says Michelle Penney, UBC Robson Square’s Associate Director. “This important connection between learning and  change promises to benefit residents and communities throughout British Columbia and we are proud to be a part of that process.” Creating positive change lies at the heart of what United Way of the Lower Mainland stands for. With the support of generous sponsors like UBC Robson Square, United Way is helping to equip leaders in our region—and across the province—with the skills they need to create change at a fundamental level: in the realm of public policy. Enthusiastic participants of the 2015 UWPPI cohort met last week at the fourth monthly session of this premier training program. Faculty member Elizabeth Cull, former provincial Minister of Health, presented on the art of engaging decision-makers—a crucial step when aiming to influence public policy. Much like politics, she argued, changing public policy is all about “the art of the possible.” Elizabeth discussed the importance of knowing your audience, doing your research, and approaching decision-makers with a precise and solutions-oriented pitch. Following her presentation, participants had a chance to practice their own pitch in small groups, and to get valuable feedback from their peers.  UBC Robson Square’s HSBC Hall—the classroom for UWPPI— transformed into an incubator for social change—where possibilities thrive. Startling statistics, moving stories, and powerful appeals were offered  as to why a particular public policy needed to be created or changed. In turn, peers and faculty provided constructive feedback on the pitches—sharing ideas, experiences, and practical advice, asking for clarification on facts and figures, and helping to anticipate the tough questions that might be asked at a real-world presentation. Sometimes, everything can rest on one meeting with a crucial decision-maker. The key, as Elizabeth advised, is to always be ready. Thank you to UBC Robson Square for enabling change-makers across the province to ‘dwell in possibility’ —to imagine, create, and pursue a vision of our community not as it is, but as it can one day be.

PamLearning the art of the possible

May Day! Vancouver’s living wage increases by 24%

by Pam on May 1, 2015 Comments Off on May Day! Vancouver’s living wage increases by 24%

mayday A story published in Business in Vancouver references a report released April 29 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives:  Working for a Living 2015. The report calculates that the cost of raising a family with two children – with both parents working full time – has jumped almost 24% since 2008 in Metro Vancouver. Vancouver’s “living wage” is defined as the hourly pay each parent must make to meet a family’s basic needs. The wage has jumped to $20.68 per hour in 2015, according to the report. This increase, up from $16.74 in 2008, was driven by increases in both shelter costs and child care expenses. “[The living wage is] the amount needed for a family of four with two parents working full-time to pay for necessities, support the healthy development of their children, escape financial stress and participate in the social, civic and cultural lives of their communities,” the report states. The wage of $20.68 per hour comes from a calculation that includes such expenses as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, child care and healthcare. It also takes into account subsidies that are available to families, such as rental assistance and the child care subsidy. United Way of the Lower Mainland is one of many organizations certified as a Living Wage employer. To get involved with the campaign or to become a Living Wage employer, contact the Metro Vancouver Living Wage for Families Campaign. You can find out the living wage in other BC and Canadian communities, by downloading the living wage calculation guide and spreadsheet on the Canadian Policy Alternatives website. Seth Klein, author of the report, was recognized by United Way at the 2013 Labour Awards Dinner.

PamMay Day! Vancouver’s living wage increases by 24%