Make change one step at a time

by JenniferY on January 30, 2017 Comments Off on Make change one step at a time

PICS team webHow can you make a positive difference in your community? One step at a time! On Tuesday, March 2, take 14,520 steps in the right direction of United Way of the Lower Mainland to raise money for your organization and United Way! It’s the second annual 2nd annual 11km Walk for Possibility on Thursday March 2, 2017 from 8:00 am to noon. Organizations funded by United Way in the Lower Mainland assemble teams to walk from downtown Vancouver to United Way’s office in Burnaby. Funds raised during this fun fundraiser are split between the organizations who put forward a team and United Way.  

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. – Dr. Seuss

The event will begin at BC211 in the Woodwards building lobby with registration and event kick off, followed by optional designated stopping points at United Way funded agencies listed below. The walk ends at United Way of the Lower Mainland’s office in Burnaby at  4543 Canada Way. There is still time for teams to register. We look forward to walking together!

JenniferYMake change one step at a time

Lucky money goes a long way to help kids in need.

by Tracy Green on January 25, 2017 Comments Off on Lucky money goes a long way to help kids in need.

Felix-2-Low-Rez At three years old Felix was completely unprepared for preschool. He didn’t speak English and couldn’t understand anyone. It terrified him so much, he tried to escape through a fire exit. His Mandarin-speaking family lives in a high-rise, which gives Felix little opportunity to interact with other kids. Many newcomers to Canada are isolated, know few people and are unaware of how to access helpful resources. As a result, their children face challenges at school— challenges that will follow them for life. Thanks to caring people like you, United Way of the Lower Mainland’s Avenues of Change initiative in Richmond is helping Felix thrive. 1 in 3 kids in BC is vulnerable. In Felix’s neighbourhood, it’s 1 in 2. Helping kids like Felix from birth to age six is critical. It’s their best hope for gaining self-confidence and learning how to navigate the world so they can truly live up to their potential. Without support, vulnerable kids are less likely to graduate, to secure a job, or abide by the law—all of which become costly social problems like poverty, homelessness and crime, affecting us all. There are many other kids like Felix that need your help. January 28 marks the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year—which means the start of giving and sharing with family and the community. Help kids in your community by donating today. Some “lucky money” goes a long way to helping kids in need. Leah-Felix-Low-Rez United Way’s Avenues of Change is a community-driven initiative. United Way is investing $5 million over five years in neighbourhoods where kids are struggling most, across Richmond, Coquitlam, Surrey and Vancouver. Felix’s mom Lea is now part of Avenues of Change in Richmond. She volunteers sharing her experiences with newcomer families, meeting other parents and helping Felix make new friends. With your help, United Way is working alongside over 150 partner agencies that offer over 300 life-changing programs for those in need. Felix is now doing great. Multiply that by all the children we support throughout the neighbourhoods we reach, and the end result is vibrant, healthier communities; the kind of communities we all want to live in. Happy Chinese New Year!   

Tracy GreenLucky money goes a long way to help kids in need.

Paying it forward with soup

by JenniferY on January 24, 2017 Comments Off on Paying it forward with soup

smiling man webLast week, when Canada’s biggest foodie event of the year started, United Way was there raising awareness about food security issues in the Lower Mainland and raising money for nutritious snacks for children in United Way-funded after-school programs. On Friday, January 20, the Chef Soup Experiment kicked off the Dine Out Vancouver Festival.  Top chefs from Vancouver’s restaurants all added an ingredient to a soup stock pot.  Students from the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts produced, simmered and then served the collaborative soup outside of the Culinary Arts Institution at 1505 West 2nd Avenue on Granville Island. The hearty tomato-based soup was dubbed confetti soup. Soup was ladled out with love for a suggested donation of $5 with donations benefitting United Way’s “Stop the Growl” initiative that provides nourishing and wholesome food to BC children and families in need. “This is a partnership that we really warmed up to,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “United Way’s Stop the Growl initiative helps kids access nutritious food and lifelong knowledge about how to eat well and be healthy.” “This was our first year joining forces with a charitable organization for Dine Out, and we couldn’t ask for a better partner than United Way,” said Lucas Pavan, festival coordinator. “Dine Out encourages people to broaden their palates while spending time with friends and family, but it’s also a powerful tool in helping to bring awareness to the number of residents in our region who don’t have access to basic nutritious food. On behalf of everyone who helps to organize the festival, thank you to everyone who attended the Chef Soup Experiment and donated towards this important cause.” Special thanks to the Real Canadian Superstore for their support in helping to make this year’s Chef Soup Experiment possible. Altogether, just under $1,000 was raised to help kids. Last year, United Way provided nutritious snacks to almost 50,000 children in United Way-funded after-school programs.

Chef Group Shot at Soup Experiment web

Vancouver’s top chefs and their ingredients pictured at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts.

See more photos.  

JenniferYPaying it forward with soup

School’s back: PPI in session

by JenniferY on January 19, 2017 Comments Off on School’s back: PPI in session
United Way Public Policy Institute Faculty

PPI Faculty (left to right): Elizabeth Cull, Liz Whynot, Michael Harcourt, Ida Goodreau, Brenda Eaton, Yves Trudel, United Way of the Lower Mainland.

Twenty-five individuals start school today as the seventh annual session of United Way’s Public Policy Institute (PPI) gets underway. United Way’s PPI is a  leadership program is designed to help non-profit leaders across BC learn how to shape and influence public policy. Topics being explored in this session range from looking at options for local food systems by the BC Food Systems Network in Nelson; to bridging the gap in knowledge and service to LGBTQ seniors by Vancouver’s West End Seniors Network; to developing a community driven, nation driven approach to bettering the outcome of Secwepemc children through the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council. Participants explore topics such as evidence, policy options, engagement, as well as implementation and evaluation in this premiere leadership training. Sessions run over six months and are lead by our impressive PPI faculty: Mike Harcourt, former premier of British Columbia, will be joined again by Brenda Eaton, Elizabeth Cull, Ida Goodreau and Liz Whynot. The faculty bring a wealth of real-life public policy experience to the program, complemented by a diverse array of panelists and guest speakers. Special thanks to our Premier Sponsor Vancity and Venue Sponsor UBC Robson Square for making this year’s Public Policy Institute possible.  

JenniferYSchool’s back: PPI in session

How $10-a-day child care could pay for itself

by JenniferY on January 17, 2017 Comments Off on How $10-a-day child care could pay for itself

child in green with toysA report commissioned by Early Childhood Educators of B.C. predicts that $10-a-day child care could pay for itself within three years of implementation. The Socio-Economic Impact Analysis of the $10aDayChild Care Plan for British Columbia makes the case that increased government revenues from the jobs generated through expanding and operating a new childcare system, taxing the income of parents who would return to the workforce, and single parents who would move off social assistance and into a job would bring in $112 million more than it would cost to implement a $10-a-day plan. Current child care costs and the lack of availability of space is an issue for many parents in the Lower Mainland. As reported in today’s Province newspaper, a case in point is mother Heather Allen. Towards the end of her maternity leave, Allen started looking for childcare in downtown Vancouver. Wait lists were between two and three years. Allen decided not to go back to work. “We’re educated, experienced, resourceful women and we can’t find our way back into the workforce,” said Allen. According to www.$10aday.ca, 81% of parents who use child care say that the cost puts a financial strain on their family. Child-care spaces in some parts of BC are as high as $100 a day in some places as reported by The Province. Other research cited in the report shows benefits from implementing an affordable child-care plan include the fact that households no longer pressured by child-care expenses are freed up to spend money on other things. The report also cites evidence that by having affordable child-care, businesses see more productivity and less absenteeism from employees are are parents. The $10-a-day childcare plan is estimated to cost $1.5 billion a year to implement and would create 31,215 new full-time child care spaces, reduce fees for parents, and provide a living wage for child-care workers by the year 2025. This report comes out the day after UNICEF Canada’s President & CEO David Morley visited Vancouver to talk about child poverty.  In another story published in The Province newspaper, Morley says that some of the ways to eradicate child poverty include increasing affordable child care and ensuring healthy early years for children. “There’s brain research that shows that if we can give to children in their first couple of years a secure and loving environment, it pays dividends as we go along to the future,” said Morley. United Way of the Lower Mainland supports the movement for $10-a-day childcare in BC and sees it as one plank that could be part of an overall poverty reduction plan for BC.  

JenniferYHow $10-a-day child care could pay for itself

McMillan LLP is in kids’ corner

by JenniferY on January 17, 2017 Comments Off on McMillan LLP is in kids’ corner

Left to right: Brenda Aynsley, Vice-President, Resource Development, United Way of the Lower Mainland; Ryan Black, Partner, McMillan LLP; Tom Theodorakis, Managing Partner, McMillan LLP; Natasha Miroshnichenko, Manager HR McMillan LLP; Kris Gibson, Campaign Manager, United Way of the Lower Mainland.

No matter what the score last year, kids in our community won every time the Vancouver Whitecaps FC played. Thanks to a partnership with McMillan LLP and their Corners for Kids campaign, altogether $13,200 was raised to help vulnerable children in our community. Here’s how: for every ‘Caps corner kick taken at a Whitecaps FC home match, McMillan donated $100 to United Way; an additional $500 was donated each time Whitecaps FC scored a goal off a corner kick. The Corners for Kids campaign raised $1,200 more than in 2015, the first year that McMillan ran this innovative campaign. Altogether, McMillan LLP donated $18,030 to United Way. “It’s a perfect match,” said Tom Theodorakis, Office Management Partner, McMillan LLP. “Corners for Kids brings together two of our long-time passions: soccer and supporting United Way in its work to help children and families in need.” Let’s all cheer the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and wish them a kicking 2017 season!

JenniferYMcMillan LLP is in kids’ corner

North Shore Community Profile published

by JenniferY on January 16, 2017 Comments Off on North Shore Community Profile published

waterfront North VancouverWith an 850 per cent increase in single family development permits for new houses in the City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver and the City of West Vancouver, it seems like many people know what United Way’s comprehensive community profile reveals: the North Shore appears to be a good place to live with relatively high incomes and relatively low unemployment and crime rates. However, 23,225 individuals are classified as low income, and rental properties are non-existent to scarce. The 2014 Homeless Count found a total of 119 homeless individuals living on the North Shore. A comprehensive report published today by United Way of the Lower Mainland, breaks down population, economic and social statistics in five communities on the North Shore: City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Lions Bay and Bowen Island. The United Way of the Lower Mainland North Shore Community Profile includes information on:

  • Population (demographics, growth trends, languages spoken)
  • Economic factors (income, unemployment rates, education, housing)
  • Social factors (homelessness, family structure, childhood vulnerability, causes of death)
  • Data on calls handled by bc211, the 24/7 multilingual social service help line that United Way funds

  In 2015, United Way invested $1.2 million on the North Shore funding 36 organizations that deliver 44 programs and services to residents. Programs and services supported by United Way include early childhood development, after-school programs, senior support, refugee support, and food security. “Neighbourhood-specific research like this helps not only United Way but also municipalities, school districts and other social service organizations plan for the future,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “Research also helps United Way make smart community investments.” This is the sixth Community Profile published by United Way over the past 18 months. United Way’s Surrey/White Rock Community Profile was published in September, Richmond Community Profile in December, Tri-Cities Community Profile was published in the spring, Delta Community Profile in October, and New Westminster Community Profile in December, 2016. North Shore Community Profile Highlights Population

  • The North Shore’s population in 2011 was 180,022 residents. From 2001 to 2011, the region experienced an 11% growth rate, relatively low when compared to Surrey’s 35% growth rate during the same time period. Population projections estimate that by 2041, 243,700 people will live on the North Shore.
  • 5% of North Shore residents are seniors (the highest proportion of the comparison municipalities)
  • 34% of residents of the North Shore are foreign-born.
  • In 2011, there were 60,205 immigrants living on the North Shore. 44% of that group came to Canada when they were between 25 and 44 years of age.
  • In the North Vancouver School District, 23.8% of students speak languages other than English at home and in the West Vancouver School District, 35.2% of students speak languages other than English at home.
  • In 2015/16 Persian was the most common other home language after English in the North Vancouver School District and Mandarin was the most common other home language in the West Vancouver School District.
  • From 2007 to 2011, 7,000 babies were born on the North Shore.

  Economic indicators

  • The median family income in the City of North Vancouver was $79,132; District of North Vancouver was $103,206; $109,563 for Lions Bay; and $115,425 for West Vancouver.
  • 3% of the North Shore population living in private households were classified as low income.
  • The top three occupations on the North Shore were: sales and service (21.6%); business, finance and administration (18.5%); and management (15.8%).
  • The North Shore’s total unemployment rate in 2011 was 6.2%, lower than all other comparison municipalities.

  Social indicators

  • The City of North Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver reported 0 vacancies for bachelor, one bedroom, or three bedroom apartments. West Vancouver had 0 vacancy for all apartment types except 1.2 % for bachelor apartments.
  • Crime rates on the North Shore are low: the violent crime rate is 1.8%; property crime, 4.7%; vehicle theft, 1.5%.

  Calls for assistance to the bc211 help line

  • In 2015, there were 1,000 calls to bc211 from the North Shore. The top reasons for calls were housing and homelessness; health; and mental health.

  Read the report here. United Way of the Lower Mainland North Shore Community Profile Data sources: 2011 Census; bc211; UBC HELP.

JenniferYNorth Shore Community Profile published

BC poverty reduction plan needed

by JenniferY on January 12, 2017 Comments Off on BC poverty reduction plan needed

BC’s poverty rate is virtually unchanged from where it was a decade ago. At 13.2 per cent, BC’s poverty rate is the second highest in the country says a new report – Long Overdue: Why BC Needs a Poverty Reduction Plan, co-published today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), the United Way of the Lower Mainland and the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. Poverty rates in BC remain much higher than historic lows seen in the late 1970s and late 1980s. Measures of severe hardship, such as food bank use and homelessness, have continued to climb. And working poverty rates are also on the rise. The report finds that approximately half of those living below the poverty line are either the working poor or children of the working poor. The report also finds that:

  • Income for those on social assistance is not just below the poverty line, but thousands of dollars below it. A single person receiving basic welfare of $610 per month has an annual income that reaches less than 40 per cent of the poverty line.
  • Someone working full-time year round at the minimum wage of $10.85/hour earns about $3,500 a year less than the poverty line for a single person.
  • Costs for core essentials like housing, child care, energy/electricity and food have increased much faster than incomes, and escalating prices of these essentials are placing additional stress on the already-tight budgets of low-income families.

  “Investing in a poverty reduction plan now is the best investment we could make for our future, especially when you consider how poverty robs our future generation, our children, of their potential,” said Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “United Way and other non-profits work hard to help children and families in need but there is only so much we can do. There is always more demand than there are resources available.” “Families are struggling to make ends meet with increasing affordability challenges, including rising housing costs, childcare fees, hydro rates, and food costs. The social safety net is broken throughout the province, and our economy loses 8 to 9 billion dollars annually paying for the costs of poverty. The need to rebuild that safety net through a poverty reduction plan is long overdue,” said Trish Garner, Community Organizer, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. The report notes that the poverty gap in BC – meaning the amount of money needed to bring every British Columbian living under the poverty line to that threshold – was $5.8 billion in 2014. That’s how much it would take in increased wages and income supports to eliminate poverty in our province. That figure represents about 2.4 per cent of BC’s economy (as measured by GDP). bcpovplan “Too often, we become resigned to the presence of poverty, hunger and homelessness. The problems seem so big and complex that it’s hard to see how they can be solved,” said report co-author Iglika Ivanova, CCPA-BC Senior Economist. “But, effective poverty reduction plans have been developed in Canada and internationally and there is no reason it cannot be done here. Poverty, hunger and homelessness are not inevitable in a society as wealthy as ours,” she added. BC’s high rate of child poverty remains stubbornly high. As well, marginalized groups including Indigenous people, people with disabilities and mental illness, recent immigrants and refugees, single mothers, single female seniors, and youth are disproportionately represented among the poor. Essential elements of a comprehensive poverty reduction plan outlined in the report include:

  • Significantly increasing welfare and disability rates and indexing them to inflation.
  • Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour and indexing it to inflation.
  • Building 10,000 new social and co-op housing units annually.
  • Adopting the $10-a-day child care plan, which includes free child care for those earning less than $40,000.

  Read the report here.

JenniferYBC poverty reduction plan needed

Positively amazing

by JenniferY on January 4, 2017 Comments Off on Positively amazing
Getting ready to ring in 2017 with Seymour the Sea Otter.

Getting ready to ring in 2017 with Seymour the Sea Otter.

Happy New Year! For decades, we have worked with generous donors, dedicated organizations and incredible volunteers to create a community that we can all be proud of. Our work is made possible by the support of tens of thousands of donors, corporate support, and government funding. United Way is the backbone of an area-wide network of community agencies that effects positive, long-term change. United Way strives to make the Lower Mainland a place where everyone can access opportunity and reach their full potential, not matter where they live, or where they’re from. Diversity is the heartbeat of our region. It’s what makes our communities rich, vibrant and beautiful. Age, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, differing abilities, values and beliefs – these are just some of the many differences that help to make up the very fabric of our community. Our vision at United Way of the Lower Mainland is that we live and breathe every day in a healthy, caring, and inclusive community. A community where everyone can access opportunity to reach their full potential, no matter where they live or where they’re from. What does your donation look like? In a year we help:

  • 340,000 people
  • 140,000 children
  • 72,000 families
  • 64,000 seniors

  On New Year’s Eve, thanks to our partnership with Concord’s New Year’s Celebration Vancouver 2017 and through the money we raised at the event, we are going to be able to help more than 230 kids get access to quality after-school programs so kids can be safe, feel they belong, find great role models, and grow their confidence so that they reach their full potential. As we start 2017, together let’s harness the positive energy of a new year and see where we can go from here. When we work together, amazing things are possible.  

JenniferYPositively amazing