Hello stranger.

by Tracy Green on September 30, 2015 Comments Off on Hello stranger.

Colin Easton is a local blogger, writer, photographer, humanitarian. #notastranger

  Colin was in trouble. He was depressed. He was isolated. He spent his days and nights on social media, turning down invitations to visit friends. But a conversation a day changed Colin Easton’s life. In 2014, Colin talked to a stranger every day of the year and blogged about it. The compilation of posts became The Stranger Project and it turned Colin’s life around. His credo and guiding principle: if you want to change your life, change your life. His first conversation was with the binner outside of his apartment on New Year’s Day. Colin refutes Vancouver’s reputation of being an unfriendly city. “Everybody is looking at technology, headphones on, don’t talk to strangers, eyes down, don’t make eye contact,” explained Colin. “and what I’ve found through consciously going out to speak to strangers is that everybody actually does want to talk, and everybody wants more importantly to be heard.” Colin was a guest speaker at a United Way event for volunteers. Everybody was tasked with talking to a stranger, making a connection. We all share in the responsibility to create neighbourhoods that we are proud to call home. This is Colin’s way of stepping up. At United Way, we work to ensure children grow up with hope for the future, families feel a sense of belonging in their community, and that our neighbourhoods are safe and supportive places for everyone, no matter where you live, or where you’re from. “When you give to United Way, you are helping people right here in your community where you live, work, learn and play,” says Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “We use our collective strength to maximize our donors’ dollars and multiply our impact to help build a better future for our community.” Follow Colin on Twitter and Facebook. #notastranger   Behind every changed life is someone who made it happen. Help build strong communities. Please give.

Tracy GreenHello stranger.

Kids and families are busy: what are the effects?

by JenniferY on September 23, 2015 Comments Off on Kids and families are busy: what are the effects?

We live in busy times and in a wired world. There are fewer opportunities for children to just play, increased technology use in families, and busy parents — how is this affecting children? It’s a challenge that is explored in a report that investigates rising child vulnerability in five nieghbourhoods on the North Shore. According to the latest early childhood development data, more kids in these neighbourhoods are starting school “developmentally vulnerable,” meaning they’re at greater risk of struggling in the classroom—and later in life. The research project was initiated by Connect for Kids Early Years Planning Table, which is hosted by North Shore Community Resources Society, as a proactive response to a rapid rise in early years vulnerability in several areas of the North Shore. United Way of the Lower Mainland provided critical funding for the research. The report makes a number of recommendations to tackle issues contributing to child vulnerability and to help families. In response, the partners are collaborating to ensure key recommendations, including immediate implementation of vital programs and services, are rolled out in these neighbourhoods. United Way is providing additional funding to support this implementation phase. “Analyzing data from five North Shore neighbourhoods to better understand factors that appear to be contributing to child vulnerability ultimately helps communities continue to take targeted action to ensure more kids start school ready to succeed,” said Dr. Denise Buote, researcher and author of the report. “This kind of in-depth work is essential to helping the most vulnerable in our communities. United Way is committed to understanding root causes of problems and delivering solutions to solve issues facing people living here in the Lower Mainland,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. Dr. Kim Schonert-Reichl, Interim Director, Human Early Learning Partnership at UBC adds, “We’ve seen a trend across the province of increasing vulnerabilities in early childhood, especially in the areas of social competence and emotional maturity. This trend runs across socieoeconomic lines.” The partnership has hired a coordinator to implement recommendations from the report.

JenniferYKids and families are busy: what are the effects?

Starting off with a Boom

by Tracy Green on September 18, 2015 Comments Off on Starting off with a Boom
Hundreds of volunteers from across the Lower Mainland helped kick off our 2015 Campaign!

Hundreds of volunteers from across the Lower Mainland helped kick off our 2015 Campaign!

As sure as kids go back to school, the leaves turn red and gold, and the rain returns, every fall hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers help raise awareness and funds for United Way. United Way’s mission is to build strong communities, to move people from poverty to possibility and to help kids be all that they can be. And we’re pretty good at it. But we can’t do it alone. Our volunteers are the glue that holds our community-building enterprise together. It’s a unique model: the reliance on volunteers helps us keep our administrative and fundraising costs low at only 14%. This morning, hundreds of volunteers got revved up with some training tips, inspirational words from guest speaker Colin Easton of the Stranger Project, and rocked the room with a group guitar-hero style performance on “boom whackers.” The price of admission was a non-perishable food item. A couple of hundred pounds of food was donated to Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, funded in part by United Way. Last year, thanks in part to the hard work of our volunteers, we raised $26.5 million to be invested back in the community. In Canada, United Way is the second largest funder of social services after government. So here’s to our volunteers! Thank you! None of the work we do would be possible without you. Special thanks to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and members of Unifor Local 4275 for hosting the breakfast. If you want to learn more about what United Way does, read our Annual Report. To view the taped live recording on YouTube, click here.   To view pictures of the event scroll below or click here. RevUp2015   Social media round-up https://twitter.com/Tmw_3gd/status/644930976137654272 https://twitter.com/Ufcvancouverbc/status/644936660195545088 https://twitter.com/UWLM_Campaign/status/644935919993122816 https://twitter.com/irishec/status/644944866623909888 https://twitter.com/Anna_Lilly/status/644932938233065472 https://twitter.com/UWLM/status/644937705533497344

Tracy GreenStarting off with a Boom

United Way publishes Surrey & White Rock profile

by JenniferY on September 11, 2015 Comments Off on United Way publishes Surrey & White Rock profile

Surrey Community Profile Who lives in the Lower Mainland’s fastest growing city? In a comprehensive profile published by United Way today and featured in The Vancouver Sun, data exploring population, economic and social data is broken down for Surrey’s six communities and for the city of White Rock. United Way invests $2.89 million into programs and services in Surrey funding 49 agencies and 65 programs. Programs and services supported by United Way include early childhood development, after-school programs, refugee and immigrant support, senior support, and food security. “The population of Surrey has nearly doubled form 1991 to 2011. How do we ensure that we are best serving the growing population?” This comprehensive community profile is a valuable resource to help us and others plan for future needs,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. Thanks to bc211 and the City of Surrey Planning Department for providing some of the data used in the profile. Surrey Community Profile Highlights Population • Surrey’s population as of 2011: 468,000 (20% of the region’s total population). Vancouver’s population as of 2011: 603,500 (26% of the region’s total population). • From 1991 to 2011, the population in Surrey nearly doubled (90% growth rate) compared to the average growth of 44% in other municipalities in Metro Vancouver. • Cloverdale experienced the greatest population growth of Surrey’s communities: 87.3% from 2001 to 2011. • Birth rate is 13.5 births per 1,000 people compared to average of 9.9 births per 1,000 people in B.C. One in ten births in the province take place in Surrey. • 40.5% of Surrey’s residents are immigrants. • Between 2010 and 2014, 929 Government Assisted Refugees arrived in Surrey representing 27% of the total number of government assisted refugees settling in B.C. • In the 2014/15 school year, more than half of Surrey School District students spoke a language other than English at home. Top languages other than English: Punjabi; Mandarin; Tagalog; Hindi. Economic indicators • The median family income in Surrey in 2010 was $78,283 compared to $80,006 in Metro Vancouver. • 18.7% of families with children under the age of 18 live in poverty compared to the Metro Vancouver rate of 19.5% • Top five Surrey occupations: sales and service 24.9%; trades, transport and equipment operators, 18.4%; business, finance and administration, 16%; management, 10.5%; education, law and social, community and government services, 9.4% • 37.7% of Surrey renters spend more than 30% of income on rent compared to 44.7% in Vancouver. Social indicators • Surrey has the largest proportion of multiple family households in Metro Vancouver • From 2007-2011, Surrey had the second-highest rate of alcohol-related death and drug-induced deaths after Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Calls for assistance to the bc211 help line • In 2014, there were 15,173 calls to bc211 from Surrey, an increase of 19% from the previous year • Top reasons for calls: housing and homelessness, substance use, abuse, health, and basic needs. Voter turnout Surrey Municipal Elections • 2008 – 24.5%; 2011 – 25.2%; 2014 – 31.5% To read the full report, click here: Surrey and White Rock Community Profile. Data sources: 2011 Census; bc211; City of Surrey Planning Department; Civic Info B.C.

JenniferYUnited Way publishes Surrey & White Rock profile

Finding her voice

by Tracy Green on September 10, 2015 Comments Off on Finding her voice

“Higgeldy-piggeldy bumblebee, won’t you say your name for me,” sings three-and-a-half-year-old Hannah during a lively session of Mother Goose in Port Coquitlam. This popular program uses songs and rhymes to foster early language skills and help parents connect with their babies and toddlers. Watching Hannah flash a big smile at everyone she meets and sing with delight during the program, you’d have a hard time believing she was once a really shy kid who struggled to communicate with others. Her shyness was particularly worrisome for her mother, Tanya, who had had a tough childhood growing up. “I was bullied as a child,” Tanya shares. “I always thought Hannah would be too, because she was so shy and so withdrawn, so clingy to me.” The young mom credits the Mother Goose program run by Westcoast Family Centres, a United Way-supported agency, for helping her daughter develop both language and social skills. “My favourite memory is when Hannah started really coming out of her shell,” reflects Tanya. “They always [play] London Bridge and she wouldn’t do it; she was always afraid. And now, she’s the first one lined up,” says Tanya with a grin. “Even her daycare teachers say they’ve noticed a big change in her.” Tanya brings Hannah as well as her two-year-old son, Jacob, to Mother Goose regularly. Jacob is very active and particularly enjoys doing the actions to each song. He’s helped by his big sister, who is keen on teaching him all the songs she’s grown to learn—and love—from Mother Goose. At United Way, we know that healthy starts lead to bright futures. Because of the generous contributions of our donors, we are able to support programs like Mother Goose, which ensure that kids like Hannah and Jacob grow up with a song on their lips—and with every opportunity to reach their full potential. Behind every changed life is someone who made it happen. None of the work that United Way does would be possible without the support of our donors. Help us raise $1,500,000 so 6,400 more kids get a great start. Your gift means kids have access to mentoring, homework help, counseling and Mother Goose to help them grow up great. Support kids to be all that they can be. Please give generously. Mother Goose Port Coquitlam United Way                  

Tracy GreenFinding her voice

Do you believe in peanut butter sandwiches?

by Tracy Green on September 8, 2015 Comments Off on Do you believe in peanut butter sandwiches?

Peanut butter makes a great sandwich – all that gooey goodness binding the bread together. Summer camp is a bit like peanut butter, connecting the end of the school year with the beginning of a new school year. Kids learn new skills and make new friends and like it as much as they do peanut butter sandwiches. This past summer, hundreds of kids attended Sasamat Outdoor Centre’s summer camps in Port Moody. The program is funded by United Way and helps kids be all they can be. At camp, kids learn all kinds of things from co-operative play to campfire songs. “Sasamat Outdoor Centre inspires personal growth and leadership through learning and playing in the outdoors. The centre makes sure that all kids get a chance to attend summer camps no matter what their financial circumstance,” says Bronco Cathcart, Executive Director of Sasamat Outdoor Centre. “Self-esteem begins through belonging, learning and contributing. This is true whether a child is on a positive or negative path. Camp provides a positive path, children ‘own’ their experiences, and return to their families from a place of positive motivation, and with an increased sense of independence.” says Bronco. Not only that. For some campers, it has such an impact that they go on to become camp counsellors. “There’s a picture of me having my diaper changed in one of the offices,” says 21 year old Nicole, a camp counsellor, “that’s how long I’ve been hanging out at Sasamat.” “My dad passed away when I was 15. I was really struggling, my family had always been really close and all of a sudden my dad wasn’t there anymore. I decided to sign up for the leadership program. The program itself and the volunteering made me feel like I was really good at something. Sasamat gave me a big sense of belonging.” “United Way support is critical to Sasamat Outdoor Centre’s programs for children. It provides us the ability to invest in our local community, helping children to become good citizens who will in turn build a better community and provides us the capacity to implement new programs and to keep fees affordable for everyone. As our community grows in numbers and geography, and becomes more diverse, this investment will only become more important,” says Bronco. Behind every changed life is someone who made it happen. None of the work that United Way does would be possible without the support of our donors. Help us raise $1,500,000 so 6,400 more kids get a great start. Your gift means kids have access to mentoring, homework help, counseling and summer camp to help them grow up great. Support kids to be all that they can be. Please give generously. Sasamat Outdoor Centre Sasamat Outdoor Centre(photos from Sasamat Outdoor Centre’s facebook page)

Tracy GreenDo you believe in peanut butter sandwiches?

The power of one

by Tracy Green on September 4, 2015 Comments Off on The power of one

labour day make your vote count In today’s age, we “vote” for things we like all the time: who wore it best; who sang it best; which cat video is the best. We “like” posts on Facebook, we sign online petitions, we show support by retweeting tweets or following people on Twitter. Yet during the last federal election in 2011, only 61.1% of eligible voters in Canada bothered to vote. The right to vote is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. People around the world are still actively fighting for that right, in some cases, risking their lives to be able to vote. The ability to vote is a defining characteristic of living in a democracy like Canada. Unions are an important force for democracy, not just in the workplace, but beyond. Labour Day recognizes the worker and celebrates the labour union movement. This Labour Day, the concept of democracy is an important concept to contemplate as we head into a federal election. In this part of the world, United Way and Labour have worked together to change lives for the better for more than 30 years. The power of the individual and the collective is the lifeblood of democracy and underlines United Way’s credo: we believe that everyone who lives here should have access to opportunities to build a better life for themselves. With the incredible support from individual donors (many of whom are members of local unions), United Way moves families from poverty to possibility, helps kids be all that they can be, and builds strong communities. United Way of the Lower Mainland touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year investing in more than 150 local agencies and 300 programs and services across the Lower Mainland, the Sunshine Coast, and the Sea to Sky corridor. We all share in the responsibility to create neighbourhoods and communities that we are proud to call home. When we work together, we can make incredible things happen. So hold up your end of the bargain. On Labour Day, enjoy the day off, and take a couple of minutes to make sure you are registered to vote. Then on October 19, do a service to your community: vote. Michael McKnight, President & CEO United Way of the Lower Mainland

Tracy GreenThe power of one

Good credit: BCIT announces partnership with United Way

by JenniferY on September 1, 2015 Comments Off on Good credit: BCIT announces partnership with United Way

Michael McKnight and Kathy Kinloch The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and United Way of the Lower Mainland are pleased to announce an innovative partnership that will award participants in United Way’s Campaign Associate Program academic credit for hours worked, volunteer time and training. Every year, United Way recruits and trains up to 40 individuals for its Campaign Associate Program. Campaign Associates are sponsored by their workplace or other organization to work for a 16-week assignment at United Way during their annual fundraising campaign. Associates help raise funds to support programs and initiatives across the Lower Mainland that help children, families and seniors, while gaining valuable skills and experience. Key to the program, is a six-day intensive training program that is taking place this week. The program covers fundraising essentials such as collaboration and negotiation skills, campaign management, and public speaking. Participants also receive 20 hours of one-on-one coaching. Now thanks to this new partnership, Campaign Associates will be awarded BCIT credits for their training. “This is a great example of BCIT’s commitment to providing accessible and innovative pathways to learning,” said Kathy Kinloch, BCIT President. “We are proud to partner with United Way in offering community-minded individuals with the opportunity to acquire a BCIT credential.” “United Way’s Campaign Associate Program is an excellent professional development opportunity and we are thrilled to see it recognized for academic credit at BCIT,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “Campaign Associates return to their careers empowered with new skills and a better understanding of social service options available to help people.” Completion of the Campaign Associate program provides nine credits towards an Associate Certificate of Fundraising Management or three credits towards an Associate Certificate of Non-profit Management or an Associate Certificate in Event Planning. BCIT Associate Certificates are typically earned part time, allowing students to complete a credential at their own pace. Most Associate Certificate programs require 21 credits. This year, we have 37 Campaign Associates. https://twitter.com/UWLM/status/637306925969899522 https://twitter.com/UWLM_Campaign/status/637314232703279104 https://twitter.com/brenda_aynsley/status/637400767712759808  

JenniferYGood credit: BCIT announces partnership with United Way