Tri-Cities looks like a good place to live!

by JenniferY on March 30, 2016 Comments Off on Tri-Cities looks like a good place to live!

A little girl enjoys play time at the launch of United Way Avenues of Change in Coquitlam River.

With relatively high incomes, relatively low unemployment and crime rates, and a relatively high vacancy rate, the Tri-Cities appear to be a good place to live. A comprehensive report published today, United Way of the Lower Mainland Tri-Cities Community Profile, breaks down population, economic and social statistics in the three cities and two villages that comprise the Tri-Cities: Anmore, Belcarra, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody. The community profile shows that the Tri-Cities have experienced 56% growth between 1991 and 2011. The population is expected to more than double again from 2011 to 2041, growing from 218,509 in 2011 to a projected population of 364,400 by 2041. Anmore is growing at the fastest rate of all municipalities in the Tri-Cities with a 182% growth rate between 1991 and 2011 followed by Port Moody with an 86% growth rate during the same period. The median family income in the Tri-Cities is $93,142, almost 17% higher than that of Metro Vancouver. High school completion rate is very good in the Coquitlam School District (that encompasses the Tri-Cities) ranking 49th best out of the 57 school districts in the Province. United Way invests more than $2 million in the Tri-Cities funding 45 agencies that deliver 62 programs and services to residents. Programs and services supported by United Way include early childhood development including United Way Avenues of Change, after-school programs, senior support, refugee support, and food security. “This kind of research ensures that we are making smart community investments,” says Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “It also helps us develop initiatives with our partners at a neighbourhood level – like the early childhood initiative United Way Avenues of Change in Coquitlam River – to meet changing needs of this growing region of the Lower Mainland.” This is the third Community Profile published by United Way over the past nine months. United Way’s Surrey/White Rock Community Profile was published in September, and Richmond Community Profile in December.   Tri-Cities Community Profile Highlights Population • Coquitlam has the largest population of the three municipalities at 126,456 in 2011. The city experienced rapid growth from 1991-2001 (34%). • Port Coquitlam’s population is 56,342 and this city also saw rapid growth of 39% in the late ‘90s. • Port Moody is the smallest of the three municipalities in terms of population (32,975 in 2011) and has seen a high growth rate. • In 2011, foreign-born residents represented 36.7% of all residents in the Tri-Cities, the lowest of all Metro Vancouver municipalities. • Between 2010 and 2013, 598 Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) settled in the City of Coquitlam, making Coquitlam the second most-selected destination municipality for GARs in Metro Vancouver for that time period. • Coquitlam had the highest proportion of immigrants at 41.7% in the Tri-Cities with South Korea, China and Iran being the top three source countries. • The Aboriginal population in Tri-Cities has more than doubled from just fewer than 3,000 in 2001 to just over 7,000 in 2011. Economic indicators • The median family income in the Tri-Cities was $93,142, almost 17% higher than that of Metro Vancouver at $80,006. • Coquitlam had the lowest median income at $82,067 (still higher than Metro Vancouver) and Anmore had the highest median income at $160,038. • The top five occupations in the Tri-Cities: sales and service (23.1%); business, finance and administration (18.2%); trades, transport and equipment operators (13.6%); management (12.7%); and education, law and social, community and government services (11.2%). • The total apartment vacancy rate is 1.6%, higher than Vancouver and Metro Vancouver but lower than Surrey (2.5%). Vacancy rates for 2 or more bedroom homes was 2.1% in 2014. Social indicators • Crime rates in the Tri-Cities are low: violent crime rate is 1.8%; property crime 5.3%; vehicle theft 2.6%. • Births to young mothers under 20 are 12.24 per 1,000 live births – greater than Vancouver (6.82) but lower than Surrey (22.06) and BC (30.86). Calls for assistance to the bc211 help line • In 2014, there were 5,713 calls to bc211 from the Tri-Cities. Top two reasons for calls were substance use and housing and homelessness. The third highest reason in Port Moody was gambling, while the third highest reason in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam was abuse. Voter turnout Municipal Elections • 2014 – 27.8% Data sources used for the TriCities Community Profile  were the 2011 Census; bc211; UBC HELP; and Civic Info B.C.  

JenniferYTri-Cities looks like a good place to live!

McMillan’s ‘Corners for Kids’ campaign kicks off in a big way

by Tracy Green on March 23, 2016 Comments Off on McMillan’s ‘Corners for Kids’ campaign kicks off in a big way

cornersforkids No matter what the score, kids in our community win every time the Vancouver Whitecaps FC play. At their season opener on March 6th against the Montreal Impact, thanks to McMillan LLP and their Corners for Kids campaign, $1,500 was raised for children in need across the Lower Mainland. This is the second year in a row that our good friends over at McMillan are helping United Way raise much needed funds and awareness for vulnerable children in our community through Corners for Kids.  Here’s how the campaign works – for every ‘Caps corner kick taken at a Whitecaps FC home match, McMillan will donate $100 to United Way! An additional $500 will be donated each time Whitecaps FC scores a goal off a corner kick. Corners for Kids brings two of McMillan’s long time passions together into one campaign: soccer and supporting United Way in its work to help children and families in need. Over the years, McMillan has raised over $338,000 for United Way, with almost $12,000 of that coming from last year’s Corners for Kids campaign. “This past year, our partnership with Vancouver Whitecaps FC has proven to be a rewarding experience for us on and, especially, off the field. We have seen a marked increase of our support of local community initiatives through the ‘Corners for Kids’ program and are looking forward to many more kicks to come this season!” said Tom Theodorakis, Office Management Partner, McMillan LLP. Next home game for the Whitecaps is this Saturday against the Houston Dynamo.  Let’s all cheer the Vancouver Whitecaps FC to a win for the team and for all kids across the Lower Mainland this season!

Tracy GreenMcMillan’s ‘Corners for Kids’ campaign kicks off in a big way

Let’s celebrate happiness

by Tracy Green on March 18, 2016 Comments Off on Let’s celebrate happiness

get happy This Sunday, March 20 is the 4th International Day of Happiness. Every year, to mark the occasion, the United Nations releases the World Happiness Index to report on the state of global happiness. This year 157 countries were ranked based on happiness levels calculated by evaluating different variables including, GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy and generosity to name a few. The 2016 winners were Denmark, followed by Switzerland, Iceland and Norway. Canada was ranked 6th. Besides bragging rights, what do these rankings tell us? The purpose of the report is to help countries gauge readiness for implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which include ending poverty, addressing hunger by improving food security, ensuring healthy lives and quality education, strengthening partnerships and many other humanitarian goals that would benefit the world’s population. Happiness is increasingly considered a good measure of social progress and a goal of public policy. Over the years, the data and analysis in the Happiness Report has “helped to satisfy, and perhaps to fuel, growing public interest in applying the science of happiness to public affairs.” An interesting finding of the report is the importance of our connections with people. Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking. We could change this in a day if we all reached out and made at least one new positive connection. How can we increase happiness in our lives and our community?

  1. Do something kind for others.
  2. Volunteer your time, energy and skills.
  3. Get to know your neighbours.
  4. Look for the good in those around you.

  Another important takeaway is that freedom and generosity have a large impact on positive feelings, which in turn has an impact on life evaluations.  Generosity is a shared value proven to make people feel happier. In our own communities across the Lower Mainland we see the power of this generosity impact individual lives in meaningful ways. United Way’s vision is a healthy, caring and inclusive community is made possible because of the collective contributions of over 40,000 donors each year. Definitely something to celebrate on this International Day of Happiness!    

Tracy GreenLet’s celebrate happiness

Making connections

by Tracy Green on March 16, 2016 Comments Off on Making connections
family services of greater vancouver

Program Director, Patricia Steiner with Parent Connect participant Amara.

Amara, mother of five moved from Nigeria to Canada in 2015. She was struggling with learning a new language and adapting to a new culture. Amara didn’t have any support from extended family. Amara was so excited to find out about the New Westminster Parent Connect Program. It turned her life around. Once a week throughout fall and spring, the United Way supported Family Services of Greater Vancouver offers the Parent Connect Program to parents like Amara. Program Director Patricia Steiner describes Parent Connect as a facilitated, discussion-based program bringing together Connector Parents, who have lived in the community for several years, and Newcomer Parents. “It’s really about learning more parenting skills and finding out about community resources while strengthening social connections,” Steiner says. “I have learned so much from other parents in the program and it’s wonderful to have time to connect with moms and guest speakers while my children are in child-minding services downstairs. Not only am I meeting new people and learning new things, but my children also have a great time socializing with other children,” says Amara. The program gives parents with young children a break from the extensive family responsibilities, provides them with a great opportunity to learn more about the community and to make friends while sharing the experiences and challenges of parenting. “We couldn’t do it without the support of the United Way,” says Patricia Steiner. Helping families like Amara’s is what United Way and our partners in community do every day of the year, thanks to the support of people like you.    

Tracy GreenMaking connections

Jill Calder, New View Society

by Tracy Green on March 10, 2016 Comments Off on Jill Calder, New View Society
Jill Calder (left) with co-workers from New View Society at the Walk for Possibility.

Jill Calder (left) with co-workers from New View Society at the Walk for Possibility.

Today, we are saddened to learn of the sudden death of Jill Calder, Executive Director of New View Society. On behalf of the board and staff of United Way of the Lower Mainland, I extend our deepest sympathies to the Calder family, to Jill’s friends and to her co-workers. Many United Way staff have been inspired by Jill’s commitment to bettering our community. Over the past 16 years, she has been an active supporter of United Way, most recently participating in the Walk for Possibility. Jill passionately believed in “community health through mental health”. She built New View Society to be a warm and welcoming place where anyone could go. She will be greatly missed. Sincerely, Michael McKnight President and CEO United Way of the Lower Mainland

Tracy GreenJill Calder, New View Society

Brightening children’s futures in Richmond

by JenniferY on March 4, 2016 Comments Off on Brightening children’s futures in Richmond

Richmond Avenues Of Change-044 United Way of the Lower Mainland is investing up to $300,000 over the next years to build brighter future for children in Richmond’s City Centre neighbourhood through United Way Avenues of Change. Currently in the Richmond City Centre neighbourhood – bounded by the Fraser River to the north and west side, No. 4 road to the east, and Blundell Road to the south – one in two children are developmentally vulnerable compared to a provincial average of 1 in 3 kids. United Way Avenues of Change is a bold early childhood initiative designed to tackle childhood vulnerability on a neighbourhood level. To be vulnerable means to start school at greater risk of struggling in the classroom – and in later life. But when children get off to a good start, research shows the positive impacts are realized throughout a child’s life. The unique approach of United Way Avenues of Change is that strategies to help children start school ready to succeed are developed and implemented specific to the neighbourhood. Kids thrive when their neighbourhoods thrive. One of the characteristics of Richmond City Centre is that many families with young children live in high-rises. An action strategy has been developed and will be implemented to address challenges related to so-called “vertical parenting.” Children are not connecting to others, and are not being exposed to “risky play.” Risk taking in a safe environment is an important part of a child’s development. Another characteristic of Richmond City Centre is that many families are new immigrants who may not be connected to their community and to programs and services available to them. A second action strategy that has been developed is to build a network of Neighbourhood Family Connectors. These volunteers will connect families to services and create a culture of parents supporting parents. When families are connected to each other, their neighbourhood, and to programs and services, child outcomes improve. “Children account for 21% of Richmond’s population growth,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “When we invest in our families and children, we invest in our future. That’s why we actively support United Way in this important early childhood initiative.” “Richmond City Centre is the third neighbourhood to join the United Way Avenues of Change family,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “This collaborative project brings together community partners all focused on ensuring that children and families thrive.” United Way Avenues of Change will be managed by Touchstone Family Association, United Way of the Lower Mainland’s partner agency. Richmond Children First was instrumental in developing the neighbourhood-specific action strategies. United Way Avenues of Change is up and running in Coquitlam River in the Tri-Cities, and in Guildford West in Surrey.  

JenniferYBrightening children’s futures in Richmond

The path to possibility

by Tracy Green on March 3, 2016 Comments Off on The path to possibility

diversecity The first ever 11 km Walk for Possibility took place today raising over $24,000 for the community. The Walk kicked off early this morning in downtown Vancouver at the Robert Lee YMCA and ended with a celebration at the United Way of the Lower Mainland office in Burnaby. There were optional stops enroute at United-Way funded agencies—bc211, 411 Seniors Centre and Family Services of Greater Vancouver, where walkers could learn more about United Way funded programs. 20 United Way-funded agencies participated. Half the funds they raised will go to their agency, and the other half will go to United Way to support programs helping refugees settle in the Lower Mainland. The Walk was a great opportunity for agencies to make connections. One of the first participants to finish the Walk, Geoff Harrison from the North Shore Neighbourhood House, said, “We burned calories, chatted with other community service providers along the way and traded business cards. It was fun!” Despite the cold drizzly rain, 123 people moved their feet in the right direction! The positive energy, warm hearts and enthusiasm could be felt throughout the Walk as teams came together to build a stronger community for all. The top fundraising teams were Touchstone Family Association, Vancouver Second Mile Society and Richmond Family Place. “It was a great opportunity to support United Way in a fun way and get our staff, volunteers and board members involved,” said top individual fundraiser and Vancouver Second Mile Society Board Chair Gary McDonnell. Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland was one of the walkers. “It’s wonderful to see our partner agencies join forces to raise funds for those less fortunate. This collective strength is what makes our community great.” said Michael McKnight.   View photos from the walk. For more information on the Walk for Possibility or to donate, click here.

Tracy GreenThe path to possibility

This March help us Stop the Growl

by Tracy Green on March 2, 2016 Comments Off on This March help us Stop the Growl

Edible Gardens kids March is Nutrition Month: you can help us Stop the Growl. United Way of the Lower Mainland wants your help to ensure that all Lower Mainland kids and families have access to healthy and affordable food. One in five British Columbians have skipped a meal either because they could not afford food or so that their children could eat. And one-third of people accessing foodbanks are children. The average monthly cost of a nutritionally adequate, balanced diet for a family of four in British Columbia is $938.* But we know that many families in the Lower Mainland aren’t able to afford this type of basic nutritious food on a monthly basis. Ensuring that families are food secure is more than just addressing the immediate needs of people who are hungry. United Way is committed to tackling the underlying factors of food insecurity by investing in 22 initiatives across the Lower Mainland, projects like community gardens and community kitchens, that not only help people get access to food they need but provide lifelong knowledge of how to eat well and be healthy. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Food is an important component in many of our funded programs – particularly those that are focused on our communities’ vulnerable children and their families. In addition to the funds designated specifically to food-related programs, our community service providers spend, on average, 10% of their program budgets on healthy meals and snacks. In 2014/15 alone, our School’s Out Programs served over 22,000 meals and 41,000 snacks to kids participating in our after school programs. Lack of access to adequate healthy and nutritious food can lead to negative physical and mental health effects that impact individuals, families and our region.  Children deprived of nutritious diets are less healthy, less likely to succeed in school, and more likely to face physical and economic difficulties for the rest of their lives. Every day this month, we will be publishing a healthy and affordable recipe for $15 for a family of 4. We will also be publishing tips for stretching a food budget. Recipes and tips submitted came from our funded agencies, food writers and bloggers, and other partners.   Thanks for joining the conversation and helping to bring greater awareness to food security in our community. Get involved share   Aunt Leahs   A Rocha   *$938 is based on the 2013 Dieticians of Canada “Nutritious Food Basket” for BC being $914 and adjusted to $938 in 2015 based on Statistics Canada Consumer Price Index.

Tracy GreenThis March help us Stop the Growl