United Way event reminds Langford shoppers of local agencies

Campaign outreach event flies United Way colours at West Shore grocery store

United Way Greater Victoria’s Kelly Binette

One thing is certain about parking a tent in front of a grocery store – you’re sure to see plenty of foot traffic.

Last week’s 2014 campaign kickoff for the United Way of Greater Victoria at Great Canadian Superstore in Langford not only reminded shoppers that the season of giving is upon us, representatives of three non-profit agencies funded in part with United Way donations got a chance to tell their stories.

“I like that it’s right here where we work,” said Dianne De Champlain, program co-ordinator and facilitator at Bridges for Women, a short drive away next to Veteran’s Memorial Park. “This community is being touched by the program and being here raises our profile.”

The Bridges Employment Program funded by United Way helps survivors of abuse or other trauma break the cycle and get back on their feet through education and employment training.

Other participants at the launch were Habitat for Humanity, which sells used construction materials at its ReStore in Langford; and Pacific Centre Family Services Association, which provides individual and group counselling for men, women and children experiencing domestic violence, at its location on Wale Road in Colwood.

Nancy Taylor, volunteer and community engagement co-ordinator with Habitat, gave kudos to the work of United Way volunteer fundraisers and staff. A large chunk of the donor support her organization receives goes toward recruiting volunteers and raising awareness of the program, which uses a sweat equity format and volunteer labour to build homes for families who otherwise couldn’t afford to buy.

The lunchtime event Thursday came a day after the United Way announced its Greater Victoria campaign goal of $6 million.

“This is meant as a celebratory component,” community campaign director Brittany Decker said of the mini-launch. “It’s also a reminder to people that it does take that collective effort. There’s that recognition that every dollar counts.”

Having some of the faces from agencies helped by United Way on the West Shore also reminded local people there are valuable services available where and when they need them most, she added.

United Way, often referred to as “the invisible hand,” Decker said, funded more than 80 such agencies around Greater Victoria this year, providing service in the targeted categories of Strong Communities, All That Kids Can Be and From Poverty to Possibility. A full list can be found at uwgv.ca/community-partners/.

To find out more about United Way, visit uwgv.ca, email unitedway@uwgv.ca or call 250-385-6708.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com