(L to R) Joe O’Rourke, vice president and general manager of Seaspan Victoria Shipyards, Rainbow Kitchen director Patrick Johnstone, Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins and Mark Breslauer, CEO of United Way Greater Victoria, and Esquimalt Neighbourhood House executive director Mary Lynn McKenna are all smiles under their masks. (Photo courtesy of United Way)

United Way micro-grants a boon for Esquimalt residents

Nutrition, literacy, activity and community benefit from small grants

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.

“Through this generous donation to the United Way, Hi Neighbour built on the strengths, talents and passion ever prevalent in Esquimalt,” Mark Breslauer, CEO of UWGV noted in a media release. “This hyper-local initiative engaged residents, agencies and businesses in the creation of interesting new partnerships and opportunities aimed at helping those most in need during these uncertain times.”

READ ALSO: United Way Greater Victoria asking for at-home donations

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.

Joe O’Rourke, vice-president and general manager of Seaspan Victoria Shipyards, said he was proud of the way his team stepped up to support the Hi Neighbour program. “COVID has turned people’s lives upside down and added a lot more pressure and stress in our communities,” O’Rourke said. “At such a challenging time, I’m grateful that our people were able to help make a difference to those who need it most.”

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.”

United Way is focusing efforts on urgent community needs such as mental health outreach services and counselling, meals and companionship for isolated seniors and essentials for families in needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization raised $4.7 million last year thanks to more than 7,000 donors and 250 workplaces. The money raised helped Untied Way support more than 90,000 people.

Esquimalt neighbourhood House and Rainbow Kitchen handed out 150 care bags to seniors at an event on Sept. 29 to wrap up the initiative. The kits included Murchies tea, water bottles from the Township of Esquimalt, candies and refreshments from Country Grocer, first aid kits from Columbia Fire & Safety, and State of Aging guides from Black Press.

Go to uwgv.ca to make a donation or learn more about the work United Way does in the community.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

United Way

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Felix Townsin, shown here with his sister, Lexi, who died on Oct. 19, 2019. Felix is a big part of a family initiative aimed at finding a cure for Blau Syndrome. (Photo contributed by the Townsin family)
Quest to cure Blau syndrome a family affair

John Stubbs student produces film for late little sister Lexi

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

An incident on Sooke Road is slowing traffic Wednesday evening. (Courtesy of Mona Hazeldine)
Sooke Road incident snarls evening traffic

Witnesses report two-vehicle collision

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

The street value of the more than one-and-a-quarter kilograms of cocaine seized by VicPD officers was over $150,000. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police seize fentanyl, more than $150,000-worth of cocaine

Charges laid against two Victoria men in months-long investigation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read