(Black Press file photo)

Funding granted to COVID-19 projects in South Okanagan and Similkameen

Initiative provides more than $70,000 to organizations within region

A partnership between the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen, United Way Southern Interior BC and Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, has granted more than $70,000 to projects and programs directly dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since launching the Community Response Fund partnership in March, we have received a tremendous number of applications for the fund from organizations working with groups who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are doing front line work in the terms of food security, housing, mental health and well-being, and safety,” said Aaron McRann, executive director of the community foundation. “We also received applications from organizations who are facing financial strain from having to shut their doors, a decline in donations, and lost fundraising opportunities to support operations.”

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After launching a combined application on the community foundation website, the group came to an agreement on the most pressing charities and causes to fund in Phase 1 of the Community Response Fund. These included food banks, meal programs, family services, mental health and addiction programs.

“During times of dire need and crises, it is more important than ever for us to come together to most effectively meet the needs of the people and communities we serve,” says Kahir Lalji, executive director of United Way Southern Interior BC. “I would like to acknowledge all partners who have contributed to making these supports available during this time, and to all those who continue to provide essential frontline social and community services.”

“There is strength in numbers and this is a perfect example of that,” said Paulo Araujo, president of Valley First. “We are all in this together, helping our members and our communities thrive.”

Funding has been approved for the following agencies in the region:

• Canadian Mental Health Association — SOS

• Desert Sun Counselling

• Ooknakane Friendship Centre

• Penticton Soupateria

• Pathway’s Addiction Resource Centre

• Princeton Foodbank

• Princeton Family Services

• St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank

• School District 67 — food for school families

• South Okanagan Immigrant Society

• Starfish Backpack Program

“We are proud to collaborate with UWSIBC and Valley First to provide direct and immediate support to these local organizations in the South Okanagan Similkameen who are dealing with the fallout from COVID19,” said McRann. “The Community Response Fund is also a way for donors and interested citizens to pool their donations to make a bigger impact in their community,” McRann said.

To learn more about the community efforts to support the charitable and non-profit sector during COVID-19, visit www.cfso.net/covid19/,www.unitedwaysibc.com/covid-19 and www.valleyfirst.com/covid-19

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