Today we wear orange because every child matters.

by Tracy Green on September 30, 2016 Comments Off on Today we wear orange because every child matters.

Tipellla Today is Orange Shirt Day. Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event held in Williams Lake, BC, Canada, in the spring of 2013. It grew out of Phyllis’ story of having her shiny new orange shirt taken away on her first day of school at the Mission, and it has become an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually. September 30th was chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying policies for the coming school year. Orange Shirt Day is also an opportunity for First Nations, local governments, schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come. This year, United Way of the Lower Mainland adopted a Statement of Reconciliation. The Statement recognizes the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and outlines commitments to work in partnership with Aboriginal peoples in BC and build stronger relationships. At present, United Way invests nearly $2 million in Aboriginal initiatives. The early childhood program Success By 6 BC invests another $1 million. Better at Home, a seniors program funded by the provincial government and managed by United Way, has four Aboriginal-focused programs located on reserve that serve Aboriginal communities: Squamish Nation–Tsleil-Waututh Nation Better at Home; Stó:lō Territory Better at Home; Gitxsan Better at Home; and Cowichan Tribes Better at Home. United Way is helping build a strong community for all.       

Phyllis (Jack) Webstad’s story in her own words… 7276003_orig I went to the Mission for one school year in 1973/1974. I had just turned 6 years old. I lived with my grandmother on the Dog Creek reserve. We never had very much money, and there was no welfare, but somehow my granny managed to buy me a new outfit to go to the Mission school. I remember going to Robinson’s store and picking out a shiny orange shirt. It had string laced up in front, and was so bright and exciting – just like I felt to be going to school! When I got to the Mission, they stripped me, and took away my clothes, including the orange shirt! I never saw it again. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t give it back to me, it was mine! The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying and no one cared. I was 13 years old and in grade 8 when my son Jeremy was born. Because my grandmother and mother both attended residential school for 10 years each, I never knew what a parent was supposed to be like.  With the help of my aunt, Agness Jack, I was able to raise my son and have him know me as his mother. I went to a treatment centre for healing when I was 27 and have been on this healing journey since then.  I finally get it, that the feeling of worthlessness and insignificance, ingrained in me from my first day at the mission, affected the way I lived my life for many years. Even now, when I know nothing could be further than the truth, I still sometimes feel that I don’t matter.  Even with all the work I’ve done! I am honored to be able to tell my story so that others may benefit and understand, and maybe other survivors will feel comfortable enough to share their stories.


Tracy GreenToday we wear orange because every child matters.

Better at Home Meetup grows seniors’ expertise

by JenniferY on September 29, 2016 Comments Off on Better at Home Meetup grows seniors’ expertise

happy participants On September 26-27, approximately 90 coordinators, assistants and managers attended the 4th Annual Better at Home Provincial Meetup at SFU Harbour Centre – the first meetup to be held in beautiful downtown Vancouver! Better at Home is a seniors program managed by United Way of the Lower Mainland and funded by the B.C. government. This year’s conference focussed on how to improve the seniors program both locally and provincially. Topics included how to create safe environments for seniors and elder abuse; building age-friendly and dementia-friendly communities; and how to enhance social connectedness amongst seniors.  The entire event was “tree”-themed – a growing forest, seeded with program-enriching ideas and strategies of our Better at Home network. Participants heard updates on Better at Home’s provincial projects including the Rural & Remote Pilot Project and the Provincial Integration Project. They also got a chance to brainstorm strategies and deliverables that will be turned into action plans. On Monday evening, guest presenter Jorge Amigo told a story of two cities on a fault line, and showed what a community can really do when it comes together. He serenaded the group with his ukulele, and shared a singalong to “Stand by Me.” SFU gerontologist Dr. Habib Chaudhury’s presentation “Neighbourhood-Built Environment and Active Aging” highlighted how the structure of a town or city can either welcome or alienate its own elderly, and how a mere park bench can bring comfort and unity to its residents. Better at Home has now formed a Provincial Reference Group that will act as a consultative body to the Better at Home program. Members are:

  • Heather Archer, Team Leader, BC Association of Community Response Networks, Interior Health
  • David Cheperdak, CEO, Broadmead Care, Victoria
  • Marcy Cohen, Policy Advocate, Raising the Profile Project
  • Sheryl Fisher-Rivers, Board Member, United Way of the Lower Mainland
  • Kathleen Jamieson, Chair, Health Committee, Committee of the Council of Senior Citizens of BC (COSCO)
  • Debbie McLachlan, Director, Home and Community Care, Ministry of Health, BC
  • Rebecca Morris, Manager, Advocacy & Education, Alzheimer Society of BC
  • Tim Rowe, Former Executive Lead, Northern Health Authority
  • Michelle Sandsmark, Program Coordinator, BC Healthy Communities Society
  • Dr. Joanie Sims-Gould, Assistant Professor, UBC, Centre for Hip Health and Mobility (CHHM)
  • Stephanie Williams, General Manager, Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST)

  And from Better at Home:  

  • Camille J. Hannah, Program & Project Assistant, Better at Home
  • Precious Ile, Adminstrative Support, Better at Home
  • Kahir Lalji, Provincial Manager, Better at Home.  

JenniferYBetter at Home Meetup grows seniors’ expertise

Getting active for a good cause

by Tracy Green on September 27, 2016 Comments Off on Getting active for a good cause

A new mobile app Biko turns kilometres traveled – by biking, walking, jogging or even skateboarding – into rewards; “bikos” you can claim for yourself or donate for free to a good cause. And from now until October 16, 2016 Biko users can donate their rewards to United Way of the Lower Mainland! The more bikos United Way receives, the higher portion we will receive a generous $25,000 donation from longtime United Way partner Pacific Blue Cross. get active for a good cause with biko How it worksnumber 1 Get the App Download the Biko App for your Apple or Android device. number 2 Get Tracking Start an activity in the app anytime you are moving about during the day. You can bike, walk, jog or even skateboard! Biko will track your kilometres travelled. number 3 See the Impact See all the “bikos” or rewards you earn for your kilometres travelled. 4__NUMBER GRAPHICS – NON-BOLD__Reverse Pay it Forward Donate your bikos to United Way by October 16, 2016. If that’s too simple, how about doubling down? 5__NUMBER GRAPHICS – NON-BOLD__Reverse Get a Biko Buddy Recruit a friend. Challenge each other to see who can earn more bikos before October 16, and make sure to donate them to United Way.   Let your friends know that you are getting active for a good cause by sharing on Facebook. I'm helping move families from poverty to possibility in my community, just by getting on my bike! Visit to get started. Our thanks to Biko and Pacific Blue Cross for their support!    

Tracy GreenGetting active for a good cause

Active Aging Grants keep seniors hip and healthy

by JenniferY on September 26, 2016 Comments Off on Active Aging Grants keep seniors hip and healthy
Leisure activities like playing bingo keep seniors connected.

Leisure activities like playing bingo keep seniors connected.

Active Aging BC and United Way of the Lower Mainland have partnered to keep older adults active as they age. Thirty “Seniors Active Aging” grants were distributed across BC in 27 communities. Programs range from connecting First Nations elders to community recreation in Prince George, to intercultural Tai Chi in Surrey, to chair yoga in Mission and an inter-generational bee garden in Duncan. You can see a list of all of the programs funded here. “The overall goal of these grants is to increase seniors’ level of physical activity in order to improve social connections, increase level of independence, and improve seniors’ well-being and quality of life,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “In order for a community to be great, it has to be great for everyone, no matter the person’s age.” “As we age, physical activity to enhance mobility is key to maintaining independence and quality of life,” said Joanie Sims-Gould, Executive Director, Active Aging BC, Centre for Hip Health and Mobility. “A large percentage of older adults’ social connectedness is based on leisure activities. We know that for people over age 60, social isolation and feelings of loneliness are related to physical inactivity.” All 30 one-year grants are up and running. Active Aging BC, a program of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, contributed $270,000 to the initiative and United Way of the Lower Mainland contributed $240,000. In Hardy Bay, BC that means seniors like Norm and Nancy are dancing again. To learn how you can help more seniors live healthy and active lives in your community, click here.

JenniferYActive Aging Grants keep seniors hip and healthy

This is Hunger Awareness Week

by JenniferY on September 20, 2016 Comments Off on This is Hunger Awareness Week

hunger awareness week Hunger Awareness Week runs until September 23. The annual event is put on by Food Banks Canada and is meant to raise awareness of the solvable problem of hunger in Canada. Food banks across the country hold events to tell the story of the work they do, and the stories of hungry Canadians assisted by food banks. Here in BC, one in 10 kids goes to school hungry: they aren’t receiving the nutritious food they need to develop and thrive. Many of them live right here in the Lower Mainland. When children have adequate nutritious food they can learn better, play more, and have active and healthy lives. When kids get the food they need, there is no limit to what they can do. With one of Canada’s highest cost of living, many Lower Mainland families, even in those with two working parents, can’t afford to buy healthy food. When budgets are tight, families often turn to cheap food full of unhealthy sugar, salt and fat to fight the hunger. Fresh produce and protein disappear from the menu. For the most vulnerable families – new immigrants, refugees and single mothers – it’s even tougher. Language and cultural barriers, lack of awareness of local food sources and access to community resources compound hunger. United Way of the Lower Mainland helps Stop the Growl by funding 21 food initiatives in the Lower Mainland. United Way gives people the skills and knowledge they need to access and prepare nutritious food for their families through community kitchens, community gardens and food education. Last year, 1.5 million meals or snacks were served to kids, families and seniors through United Way community service providers. Healthy families and kids pay it forward helping to make our communities stronger. Your dollars count for so much! For just $39, one child can be fed nutritious meals for one week. You can help. Give today.  

JenniferYThis is Hunger Awareness Week

United Way campaign takes off at plane pull

by JenniferY on September 17, 2016 Comments Off on United Way campaign takes off at plane pull
A team competes in timed trials at the 3rd annual UPS Plane Pull for United Way.

A team competes in timed trials at the 3rd annual UPS Plane Pull for United Way.

When we work together, amazing things are possible. Like pulling a plane weighing 127,900 pounds down a runway with just the grit, determination and strength of 15 people. This is what happened today at the 3rd annual UPS Plane Pull for United Way. Despite the rainy weather, 27 teams participated raising $40,000 to support children, families and seniors in the Lower Mainland at this fundraising tug-of-war. The event was hosted by UPS. Although the plane didn’t actually take flight, the event officially kicks off United Way of the Lower Mainland’s annual fundraising campaign. Last year, $32.4 million as raised to help support people in need. “When you give to United Way, you are helping people right here in your community,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “The tremendous energy and passion of our volunteers and generosity of individual donors really shows what’s possible when people care for each other and about each other. It’s what makes our community strong.” UPS Canada is a long-time and strong supporter of United Way. For the past 15 years, UPS has raised more than $1 million each year for United Ways across Canada.   To see photos from the day, click here.  

JenniferYUnited Way campaign takes off at plane pull

Revved up and ready to go for the 2016 Campaign

by Tracy Green on September 15, 2016 Comments Off on Revved up and ready to go for the 2016 Campaign

Rev up united way lower mainland campaign kickoff When we work together, amazing things are possible: running a great campaign, making our community stronger, changing the world. And, on Thursday, September 15, over 300 enthusiastic volunteers prepared to do just that when they attended the kick off [Link to Flickr RevUP page] of United Way’s 2016 fundraising campaign. United Way Employee Campaign Chairs, Leadership Chairs, Board of Directors and United Way Board of Directors, Campaign Cabinet and Campaign Associates all took part in a networking and training event held at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Special guest hosts, Gen Next Campaign Cabinet Co-chairs Amanda Costa and Nick Angrignon and Seymour the sea otter helped welcome attendees from United Way of the Fraser Valley and members of the Labour community who attended Labour@RevUp 2016. Keynote speaker, Jamie D. Grant, a paramedic/magician wowed the crowd and helped them focus on ‘what’s possible’ thinking and got them revved up and ready to change the world.   To view photos from RevUp 2016, click here.  

Tracy GreenRevved up and ready to go for the 2016 Campaign

Greatest airshow on the ground!

by JenniferY on September 14, 2016 Comments Off on Greatest airshow on the ground!
A team of 15 people pulls a plane down the tarmac.

A team of 15 people pulls a plane down the tarmac.

Looking for some free family fun where you can also feel great because you’re helping a good cause? Come out to the third annual UPS Plane Pull for United Way of the Lower Mainland, this Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm at 5960 Ferguson Road, Richmond, rain or shine. Cheer on teams of 15 people as they haul a Boeing 757-200 down the runway at the UPS facility at YVR. Kids can flex their muscles too and pull a smaller Cessna. There will be lots of fun free activities like carnival games and face painting and new this year is a “show and shine” featuring cars from 1929 to the present. Food for sale includes White Spot burgers and shakes; and 27 teams will compete. Also new this year, United Way of the Lower Mainland’s newest public figure, Seymour the Sea Otter, will make his first public appearance. UPS Canada is a long-time and strong supporter of United Way and for the past 15 years UPS has helped raise more than $1 million each year for United Ways across Canada. This event marks the start of United Way of the Lower Mainland’s fall fundraising activities. When you donate to United Way, you help kids be all they can be, build strong communities, and move families from poverty to possibility. You can sponsor an individual or a team. Find out more here.  

JenniferYGreatest airshow on the ground!

Setting the pace for community success

by Tracy Green on September 12, 2016 Comments Off on Setting the pace for community success

Thank you United Way pacesetters This year’s United Way campaign is off to an amazing start thanks to United Way’s Pacesetters. Their generosity is helping bring lasting, positive change to the lives of children, families and seniors living right here in the Lower Mainland. Together we are helping to create a world of endless possibilities for everyone. Over 90 organizations have committed to an early gift this year to United Way. United Way Pacesetters set the standard for leadership and community support. Their early commitment serves as an example that others follow during United Way’s annual fundraising campaign. It sets the pace for community success. With the support of organizations like our United Way Pacesetters and individual donors, United Way moves families from poverty to possibility, helps kids be all that they can be, and builds stronger communities. Thank you 2016 United Way Pacesetters! When we work together, amazing things are possible.

Tracy GreenSetting the pace for community success

Alexandra Neighbourhood House turns 100!

by JenniferY on September 9, 2016 Comments Off on Alexandra Neighbourhood House turns 100!

Camp games 1940s Since 1916, Alexandra Neighbourhood House has been serving the community of South Surrey and Crescent Beach. Now it’s celebrating its centennial with a Homecoming Festival on the lawn of Camp Alex, this Saturday, September 10, from 3 – 7 pm. United Way has supported this neighbourhood house for almost as long. People are invited to attend this family friendly-event that will include live entertainment, historical re-enactments, food trucks, a petting zoo, and a midway. Admission is free but donations at the gate will be accepted. Period costumes are encouraged! Alexandra Neighbourhood House started as a camp for orphans and children who couldn’t otherwise afford to go to camp back in 1916. Children enjoyed a month of sun, fun, and relaxation. The camp had high aspirations to help campers become better people:

“A camp has one primary duty and that is to see that every camper learns to become a better person by being at camp…our camp should be dedicated to the ideal that people come to know and respect one another by living and working together.”

Alexandra Fresh-Air Camp evolved into Crescent Beach Community Services, and finally, Alexandra Neighbourhood House. Over the years, services offered at the Camp have expanded to include a community kitchen, donated clothing and toys and services to older adults. The “Happy Old Age Club” started in the 1940s was the first seniors club on the Semiamhoo Peninsula. United Way has been a supporter of this community mainstay for decades. For example in 1932, when United Way of the Lower Mainland was known as the Vancouver Welfare Federation, we invested $7,052.67 into the Alexandra Fresh Air Camp. Community partners like Alexandra Neighbourhood House help United Way of the Lower Mainland achieve its vision of a healthy, caring, inclusive community for all. United Way actively invests in the Association of Neighbourhood Houses BC throughout the Lower Mainland. Alexandra Neighbourhood House has also benefited from The Vancouver Sun United Way Day of Caring. Last year a record number of BCAA volunteers showed up to do a camp cleanup. To learn more about the history of Alexandra Neighbourhood House, check out this video:

JenniferYAlexandra Neighbourhood House turns 100!