Success story highlights new United Way South Okanagan campaign

United Way campaign targets raising $300,000 in the next three years and $500,000 by 2017

Co-chair Brad Haugli and United Way staffers Tracy St. Claire (left) and Riley Gettens toast the kick-off celebrations for the upcoming campaign during Thursday's annual breakfast at the Ramada Inn and Suites. Organizers have set a goal of having an annual campaign of $300

Co-chair Brad Haugli and United Way staffers Tracy St. Claire (left) and Riley Gettens toast the kick-off celebrations for the upcoming campaign during Thursday's annual breakfast at the Ramada Inn and Suites. Organizers have set a goal of having an annual campaign of $300

Helping someone help themselves is a gift which keeps on giving.

Those attending Thursday’s campaign kickoff breakfast for the South Okanagan Similkameen United Way heard first hand how that works.

In recent years, many people have gotten to know a young, single mother by the name of Kerri Foster, who was struggling to improve her life.

At the meeting, they learned Foster has now completed her high school degree, earned a health-care certificate and just last week got a job.

“The tie-in here is that by helping Kerri right now, it is affecting future generations because we know her daughter’s life will now be better and so will the lives of her daughter’s children,” said United Way staff member Riley Gettens. “This is such a good news story, being able to see the impact on somebody in your community, somebody you pass on the street. It’s knowing their lives have been touched by the United Way which is really impacting, and for me, quite humbling.”

Initially, Foster could not afford care for her child, but thanks to the Hand-in-Hand Daycare, which is funded in part by the United Way, she was eventually able to get the services she required, allowing her to go back to school.

Someone else who spoke about the benefit of the United Way to the community was Rob Zoppi, principal of Queen’s Park Elementary School.

His talk centred around the value of the Hub program, which is a combined effort between local schools and other organizations to assist people in finding services they need.

During the meeting, campaign co-chair Brad Haugli announced a new format for the organization’s fundraising. The goal is actually over a multi-year period which includes achieving an annual campaign figure of $300,000 in the next three years and $500,000 by 2017.

“Still, for many, uncertainty is a constant,” he told the audience. “Uncertainty about employment, affordable food, making rent, seeking care for a loved one, for a child, knowing where to turn in a time of crisis.”

He added that only by building stronger communities will the safety net to catch those who might otherwise fall through, remain in place for the long term.

Gettens agreed: “There is a lot of need in our community, but there are a lot of people who want to help and collectively we can do it.”

A brief bus tour is planned for Wednesday morning which will includes stops at a number of United Way partner agencies.