United Way programs help to address the root causes of social issues prevalent in any community.
This year, more than 16,500 people in the central and northern regions of the Island are being supported by programs funded by donors and run by partner agencies.
“We have 17 amazing programs that we fund this year,” Signy Madden, executive director of United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island, said Wednesday at its annual fund-raising launch at the Comox Air Force Museum. “We’re helping over 3,000 people in the Comox Valley. There’s some key issues. Hospice is one of them. We deal with parenting programs, and mentoring through the John Howard Society. There’s a whole range of issues that could be your friends, your family, your neighbours facing a crisis.”
Funds are dedicated to programs in three main impact areas: Healthy People, Strong Community; All That Kids Can Be; and From Poverty to Possibility.
Campaigns are separate throughout the region, meaning funds stay local.
Last year’s campaign raised $220,000 for Valley programs. This year’s target is $230,000.
“Everybody has something in their life that’s troubling them, and the United Way is helping that,” Courtenay Coun. Jon Ambler said. “Just take the time to look.”
He suggests giving out of pure selfishness, considering donors receive a tax receipt.
“Anything that these agencies do makes our community better, makes your life better,” Ambler said. “There is no excuse for not giving to the United Way. We live in the best country on earth, we shouldn’t be leaving people behind. And agencies that are funded in part by United Way scoop up those people that would otherwise be left behind. That’s the Canadian thing to do. That’s our safety net, and we all have a responsibility to be part of that.”
The United Way also manages Success By 6 and early childhood education programs.
“That’s a whole other piece the United Way does that many people aren’t aware of,” Madden said, noting the Island has some of the highest child poverty rates in B.C.
“There’s a lot of vulnerability of kids in this community.”