(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)

(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

A tenant starter kit will help newly housed people transition from a survival mindset to a secure, safe place where they can start planning ahead. (Photo courtesy of Our Place)
Tenant starter kits help support people moving into long-term homes in Victoria

For the formerly homeless, it takes more than just the new address to transition

Sidney town crier Kenny Podmore delivers a proclamation honouring the late Prince Philip outside of city hall on April 17, the day of the Duke’s funeral. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Sidney)
Sidney, North Saanich honour the late Prince Philip with proclamation on Saturday

Sidney’s town crier delivered a proclamation for the Duke of Edinburgh outside of city hall

Island Health has reported a COVID-19 exposure at Ecole Victor-Brodeur in Esquimalt on April 12, 13 and 14. (Screenshot via Google Streetview)
COVID-19 exposure confirmed at K-12 French school in Esquimalt, Island Health reports

People at Ecole Victor-Brodeur may have been exposed April 12-14

The BC SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre is asking for donation support as it prepares for its busiest season of the year. (Photo courtesy of BC SPCA)
Wild ARC looking for donations to care for yearly influx of vulnerable animals

Spring and summer are the southern Vancouver Island centre’s busiest time of the year

North Saanich Fire Department is looking for individuals interested in becoming volunteer firefighters who want to give back to the community and learn new skills while gaining personal confidence. (Submitted/District of North Saanich)
North Saanich actively recruiting volunteer firefighters

Department is searching for new recruits from now until the end of May

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

Valen a student of Coldstream Elementary writes advice for adults amid a pandemic.
‘We can get rid of COVID together’: B.C. kids share heartwarming advice

Elementary students share their wisdom to adults in unprecedented times

Most Read