South Okanagan United Way mobilizes community

The United Way of the Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen has announced new funding programs for regional charities.

Max Kugi of CIBC does some painting work at the OSNS Child Development Centre as part of the United Way Day of Caring recently. Through the program

Max Kugi of CIBC does some painting work at the OSNS Child Development Centre as part of the United Way Day of Caring recently. Through the program

The United Way of the Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen has announced new funding programs for regional charities.

According to United Way executive director Marla O’Brien the grant systems target one-time investments and will make a significant difference in priority areas.

“We wanted to open the doors to new ways of investing in our communities, as well as new types of relationships between United Way and the charitable sector,” said O’Brien. “United Way strives to be more than a funder. We’re mobilizing a collective response to the needs in our community.”

She feels the new strategies will make positive changes within the organization’s service areas, which includes over 100 not-for-profit groups

New strategies provide up to $1,500 for pilot programs, collaborations between charities, events, necessary renovations and initiatives led by young people.

One local group benefiting from the grant program for the youth-led community project is the Esteem Team, which operates on the non-profit side of Get Bent Arts and Recreation.

Members Cline Balis, Elaina Collis and Nicole Chickloski received just over $1,000 to make presentations to kids about the impact of bullying, self esteem and media in the lives of Penticton youth.

The program is a partnership between Telus, Interior Savings and the United Way.

“Being part of the GBAAS (Get Bent Active Arts Society) Esteem Team has been such a valuable experience,” said Elaina, the team leader for the last three years.  “As youth we see things differently than adults and are able to connect with our peers in a way that they know we relate and understand what they might be going through.

“We are so grateful for the grant because it provides us with valuable funds to be able to get together as a group each week with youth leaders to put together a presentation with up-to-date technology that will reach middle school kids throughout Penticton.

Those 25 and under, working with registered charities, have until Jan. 17, 2014 to apply for the grant to be used to address social issues like poverty, diversity and health.

Officials of Telus and Interior Savings cited the importance of helping young people make a positive difference in their communities, at the same time learning life and leadership skills.

Another United Way initiative underway is the Day of Caring, in which employees of local businesses donate their time to help not-for-profit groups by providing services such as landscaping, repairs or similar work.

Two organizations which have benefited from the program so far include the OSNS Child Development Centre and the South Okanagan Women in Need Society.

Employees of CIBC and BMO donated their time for those jobs.

Emergency funding of up to $5,000 from the United Way is also now available for charities which have experienced catastrophic events such as fires, furnace breakdown, or floods.

For more information visit www.unitedwaysos.com.