Yogi gives back one savasana at a time

United Way Greater Victoria benefits from neighbourhood community-building

Melany Startek’s friends and neighbours kick up their heels during a celebration of community

Melany Startek’s friends and neighbours kick up their heels during a celebration of community

Melany Startek opens her personal yoga space to friends and neighbours to share her passion for the practice.

“People come in and they’re friends and neighbours and we do yoga,” she says simply.

The Oak Bay woman swears she gets more than she gives to those who join her, and offers them an outlet if they feel like giving too.

“If you come and you think this is valuable, you can donate,” she says.

Startek hosted a Father’s Day celebration to reveal they’d collectively gathered $5,000 for the United Way Greater Victoria.

“While I’m leading the sessions and share that with them, it’s their generous giving … I have my own personal practice and could be doing that every day with no one here,” she says.

“It’s the community we’ve created together that’s really powerful. It just happens to be yoga and it happens to be a great fit.”

The party also celebrated a week of yoga with internationally recognized advanced yoga teacher Peter Sterios.

The founder of LevitYoga and Manduka yoga mat creator also taught at the White House for Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity initiative. Guests enjoyed fare from the FreshCoast Victoria food truck, music by Yogi Tunes DJ Alex King, who donated his services.

“It’s a big deal to get that one-on-one interaction with (Sterios), and he stayed for the gathering as well,” she says. “It was a gift to be able to share him with them and then follow that up with a great party.”

A donation of $5,000 has major impact with United Way. Their handy new calculator can tell you how many lives are changed by a donation.

This donation, for example, if spent on ensuring no child goes to bed hungry or frightened, can affect 40 lives.

Seven children receive additional learning supplies to support their weekly in-school mentoring session; six children receive a year of healthy and nutritious snacks during their weekly after school program; 17 vulnerable families without transportation are provided with outreach sessions aimed at enhancing parenting skills; and 11 parents and their children are provided with nutritious meals while participating in a parenting support group.

“It will be gifted to where they see the most need to create the probability of possibility for someone in our community. That’s really part of the thinking behind yoga,” Startek says. “We’re giving back one savasana at a time.”

Visit uwgv.ca/my-impact/ to learn what your donation can achieve.