When the Stawarz family toured the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre in Penticton, the decision on making a financial commitment to the centre was easy.
In fact, the decision was so easy that instead of donating the original amount of $100,000, the family who owns Tim Hortons locations in the South Okanagan instead pledged $250,000 to OSNS’ newly launched Legacy Foundation.
The donation, announced on Monday, will help treat thousands of children with developmental challenges every year. And for Paul Stawarz, owner-operator of Tim Hortons South Okanagan, making the pledge was a no-brainer.
“After having one of our most successful Smile Cookie campaigns, we have decided to continue our commitment to OSNS,” he said. “Our family toured the treatment centre in Penticton and saw first hand the fantastic clinicians in action. Realizing there is a waiting list for families to access support, we knew we need to participate in its continued growth.”
In the eyes of the executive director at OSNS, Manisha Willms, the pledge from the Stawarz family is a game-changer that will help kids get treated earlier than later.
“We do have long-standing waiting lists for kids,” Willms said. “So there will be children who are diagnosed with difficulties and yet, they just can’t access (treatment). One of the things we know as an organization is that early intervention matters.
“If we don’t get to kids quickly when they’re young, it’s difficult to catch up.”
The OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre treated 1,600 children in 2020 from Summerland to Osoyoos and Penticton.
“OSNS recognized a long-standing need to respond from unacceptable waiting times for children with diagnosed development challenges,” said Tyler Chick, board chair at the OSNS Legacy Foundation. “The government plays an important role in providing funding for the centre but does not fully fund treatment services.”
With the pledge from the Stawarz family, the Legacy Foundation is hoping to create sustainability and implement parent programs so that the wait times will become smaller and the quality of the services will only get better.
“From the second we walked into the building and we read the mission statement that was on the wall and we met people like Manisha and got to see these fantastic clinicians in their element, as well seeing the children, honestly it brought tears to all of our eyes,” recalled Nicole MacMillan, operator of Tim Hortons.
The Legacy Foundation has set the goal of raising $10 million in five years and with the pledge from the Stawarz family, the centre says that services will be secured for years to come.
The OSNS Share a Smile online auction is underway and the Telethon is Sunday, Nov. 28, from 4 to 7 p.m. It will be virtual again this year and broadcast by Shaw Spotlight.
Tim Hortons’ Smile Cookie campaign took place from Sept. 13 to 19, with 100 per cent of the proceeds to go back to the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre.