UW launch highlights local links

Oak Bay BMO draws connections between programs and people

Jessica Crowe

Multi-coloured Post-it notes jut out from Jessica Crowe’s list of community partners the United Way Greater Victoria funded last year.

Each note points to a program with a connection to someone at the BMO branch on Oak Bay Avenue, an illustration the United Way ambassador and co-ordinator for the Oak Bay branch uses to emphasize to her co-workers the importance of this year’s campaign.

Branch manager Mary Ellen Echle and Oak Bay’s Hazel Braithwaite, United Way Greater Victoria Community Campaign director, joined Crowe for the launch of the regional Financial Challenge, along with Joanne Specht, manager of communications and fund development for the Cridge Centre for the Family.

Specht shared how invaluable United Way’s support is to the people of the region.

It’s important people see where their donations go, “how the money you donate is making a difference in the lives of people,” Specht told the staff, noting the Cridge Centre directly served 2,000 people last year through programs ranging from a transition house for abused women and transitional housing to respite, children’s and seniors services.

“I get to meet the woman and her kids who have been broken and abused by her partner that got to leave and live in safety,” Specht said. “I have met the survivors of traumatic brain injuries who are working so hard to rebuild their lives.”

As a single mom of teens, Specht said she also relates to the many organizations working to support families and youth in the region.

“It’s all about hope. You can give hope; you can give possibility. If we all give together, all kinds of things are possible.”

Echle recalled her time working with United Way’s 2006 campaign, with Braithwaite, and the impact people’s stories had. “What you hear that people have gone through, it’s monumental,” she said.

Last year, Greater Victoria financial institutions throughout the region raised $60,000 for the campaign, which funds programs in three core areas: children, poverty and community.

Organizations apply for funding each year and are expected to report at the end of the year how they did and how many people they served, Braithwaite said.

Collectively, “we touched over 97,000 lives last year.”

Pointing to Crowe’s Post-it-noted list, “it doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 80, we probably have a program that is going to help,” Braithwaite said.

 

Did you know?

In addition to the regional partners funded in 2015, ranging from the Victoria Women’s Transition House to Greater Victoria Public Library, Oak Bay Volunteer Services Society also receives funding for its services to Oak Bay residents, largely seniors.

Mike Cridge, great-grandson of Cridge founders Bishop Edward and Mary Cridge, has worked with BMO for 33 years and has volunteered extensively with The Cridge Centre. He recently received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.

 

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