Service helping turn lives around

United Way campaign raises $138,000 for services in the South Okanagan Similkameen

Director Tracy St. Claire (left) of the South Okanagan Similkameen United Way helps Kerri Foster with her new notebook computer she received at the annual Community Spirit Awards breakfast at the Ramada Inn. Foster is one of the success stories who is helped by an agency funded in part by the United Way. This year's campaign total of $138

To date, Kerri Foster’s short life has been a tumultuous roller coaster ride.

At age 17, alone and pregnant, there were very few places she could turn to for help, and thoughts of any kind of success in the future were almost non existent.

But thanks in huge part to the people and services of the Hand in Hand Infant/Toddler Centre, funded in part by the United Way, she has managed to get life back on track.

Hand in Hand is a school-community partnership involving School District 67 and Penticton and District Community Resources Society.

It provides quality care for children under the age of three of young parents attending school in Penticton.

It was there she was able to take her young daughter while she worked to better her life, and it’s a service she now credits for providing her with that one ticket out of despair.

For Foster, now 20, thanks to these services she was not only able to get her high school diploma, but just recently started her post-secondary education.

She eventually hopes to take up a career helping seniors.

Foster’s success was recently highlighted at the United Way South Okanagan Similkameen Community Spirit Awards at the Ramada Penticton.

“Kerri has led quite a life and has goals and dreams and most importantly “…a rock solid plan on how to get there,”  said the United Way’s Tracy St. Claire.   “Any parent can relate to the stress of being a parent, but add to that Kerri’s age and situation, it is hard not to be proud of this young woman.”

Named as the organization’s volunteer of the year, Foster was just one of the many individuals, groups, organizations and businesses recognized for their efforts over the course of the recent campaign.

While the campaign fell short of its $160,000 goal, it still managed to bring in $138,000.

“That is a great deal of money that is going to go towards supporting local social agencies,” said campaign chair Brad Haugli. “I was proud to be a part of this team.”

He referenced a couple of campaign highlights from 2011 including the $6,000 raised by Amanda Chaplin for her near head shave and the return of the Hogs Versus Hosers charity hockey game between the police and fire departments.

 

The United Way supports agencies from Summerland and Naramata south to the border and Similkameen Valley.   Anyone interested in helping with the 2012 campaign can contact Riley Gettens at 250-492-2842.