Girls in action growing great things

  On a beautiful July summer morning last week, I had the opportunity to visit the A Rocha environmental stewardship program at their organic gardens in South Surrey, BC. This United Way funded program is designed specifically to help young girls at risk and seniors living in isolation through cooking, gardening and food and farm education. For seniors, A Rocha helps vulnerable, isolated seniors by providing them the opportunity to experience local farming, meet friends and neighbours, enjoy community meals on-site, and take home whatever they harvest, with the cost of transportation included. This program really embodies United Way’s work in active aging, helping seniors be more socially connected and physically active, while maintaining their own independence and living a better quality of life. A Rocha Garden The Girls in action program at A Rocha helps low-income elementary school kids connect with other kids in a safe place that fosters inclusion free from other stresses and struggles. These girls forge strong relationships with other girls that they can depend upon and call upon should they need to in the future when life may be challenging. At the garden, the girls have the opportunity to try (many for the first time) organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables. This is a real taste experience for many of these girls who aren’t familiar with locally grown food and who instead have become accustomed to processed and packaged food with flavours unlike anything found in nature. It was truly wonderful to see these young girls nurture and pick vegetables, make salad dressing from scratch (and from the garden) and learn about the flavours and sources of food they were putting in their mouths. These girls are involved in everything at the garden and have developed some interesting new habits: stuffing their pockets with brussel sprouts was something I would never have expected to see from a 10-year-old. Everything that is created in the program is shared, including taking home the recipes to experience with their families. A Rocha program A Rocha program A Rocha program A Rocha program (Photos: David and Sandra from A Rocha together with Stephen and Eirikka from United Way; Angie and Eirikka from United Way with Sandra from A Rocha in the middle). Thank you to Sandra at Al Rocha for welcoming me so warmly, to our amazing planners Eirikka and Angie for the work you do to help guide these programs and donors investments and to our donors for allowing me the privilege to support our community in a meaningful way. Stephen Webster Vice-President of Marketing & Communications United Way of the Lower Mainland

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