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Community clean up program in Penticton in need of funding

74 peer ambassadors since 2021 and 1,000 bags of litter and 400 sharps collected
Ask Wellness Society’s Keith Girard stands with Teresa, a ‘star’ of the Peer Ambassador program that provides residents of Penticton’s supportive housing sites an opportunity to volunteer in the community doing clean ups and outreach. (Monique Tamminga Western News)

For Teresa Muir, being part of the Ask Wellness Peer Ambassador program in Penticton has made her feel helpful and has given her confidence, so much so it has led to employment.

She’s helped with dozens of community clean-ups around Penticton over the past few years as well as handing out donations to the unhoused.

“Teresa is one of the stars of the program for two years and she has now transitioned into employment,” said Keith Girard, employment support specialist and team lead of the ambassador program for ASK Wellness.

A couple of weeks ago, Girard and Muir were going around to businesses downtown to let them know about the program and what it’s all about. They stopped by the Western News office as well.

“Our peer ambassadors come from the streets and then into supporting housing and can choose to be part of the program. The program offers skill building and builds self-esteem,” said Girard who spoke to city council at their Aug. 15 meeting.

“What we found is the pre-employment program provides that wrap-around service that has been missing for so long in supportive housing.”

There have been 74 peer ambassadors since the launch of the program in 2021. Since then, 1,000 bags of litter have been collected and more than 400 sharps removed from the community.

Ambassadors are residents of Fairhaven and Burdock House who volunteer their time to keep the streets clean. They are given gift cards for grocery stores in return.

The public also appreciates the work of the ambassadors, so much so one local family funded the program for the entire year.

“They were so moved by what the program can bring to people’s lives that they funded it for a whole year. But that funding ends in September 2023,” said Girard.

However, funding for the program is set to run out in September.

The organization has raised half of the needed $100,000 and is continuing fundraising efforts but they are really hoping to secure long-term funding.

If you would like to donate to the program go to

VIDEO: ‘I’d be lost without it’: Successful community clean-up program in Penticton in jeopardy

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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