Esquimalt residents have many more reasons to smile during these challenging times, thanks to United Way Greater Victoria, the generosity of local businesses and the community.
A dozen programs in Esquimalt received funding grants from United Way Greater Victoria (UWGV) through its Hi Neighbour Program, a community-building project created in response to the needs of vulnerable citizens such as seniors and people living in poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hi Neighbour program was made possible through a donation from Seaspan, its sister company Southern Railway of British Columbia, and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.
In response to the question “If you had $500 to make an impact in your community, what would you do?” Esquimalt residents and businesses stepped up with a range of proposals for micro-grants.
The results provided funding for mini libraries, an Esquimalt Little Free Library project, food vouchers for the Esquimalt Farmers Market, as well as COVID masks and an incidental community cupboard for Esquimalt Neighbourhood House. Play Beyond Expectations will receive new exercise equipment, and upgrades will be made to the Esquimalt Community Garden Society.
Instructor Richard Wong will make virtual watercolour painting lessons available for youth involved with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and Sacred group members of PEER Victoria Resource Society received tablets. Rainbow Kitchen Society will be able to purchase organizational shelving and kitchen equipment, and Harbourview Church will receive funding for lunch boxes, water bottles and rain boots. The Esquimalt First Nations received a housing grant, and the Songhees Nation will use the funds for a Lkwungen Awareness Posters project.
Esquimalt mayor Barbara Desjardins said the grants include the addition of five mini-libraries, support for senior and youth support programming, and will enable local social service agencies to augment existing programs.
“The Hi Neighbour Program has given Esquimalt a real boost,” Desjardins said. “Perhaps the highlight of this is the addition of volunteers and volunteer hours given to and or our community by Seaspan workers. We are grateful for the co-ordination done by United Way, Kelly Binette and to Seaspan and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation for the git of enhancing our community resilience through this challenging time.”
Esquimalt neighbourhood House and Rainbow Kitchen handed out 150 care bags to seniors at an event on Sept. 29 to wrap up the initiative.
Go to uwgv.ca to make a donation or learn more about the work United Way does in the community.