United Way Greater Victoria president and CEO Patricia Jelinski was doubly excited about this year’s workplace campaign kickoff for the Capital Region, held Monday at The Bay Centre.
Not only has the funding organization extended its focus to a three-year campaign window – the goal is to raise $15 million over the next three years – the BC211 help service United Way launched earlier this summer now has confidential telephone, texting and online referral options available to Vancouver Island residents 24/7.
The multi-year campaign goal is an indication to current and potential donors of the stability United Way seeks to give the agencies it funds, Jelinski said.
“It allows certainty for groups and allows them to look at longer-term outcomes,” she said. “We’re a multi-year funder so we fund our agencies for multiple years at a time. This is a chance for us to reach out and put a really big stake in the ground and say we need to raise $15 million in three years. It’s a big number and hopefully people will take note and say ‘wow there’s a lot of work to do and we need to be engaged.’”
Financial stability is important for service providers, she added. It lets them focus on their front line work, as opposed to eight or nine months down the road having to shift gears and start trying to figure out how they’ll pay for the programs they offer.
In 2016 United Way funded 109 social service organizations in the Capital Region to the tune of $4.2 million, helping those groups provide needed assistance to 111,000 people. Roughly 8,000 of United Way’s more than 10,000 donors last year contributed with a payroll deduction, Jelinski noted.
The Island expansion of BC211, funded largely through a collection of individual and corporate donations, follows a successful co-launch in June by the province’s 10 local United Ways of bc211.ca, which provides an online service directory. That function came in extremely handy during this summer’s B.C. wildfires, Jelinski said.
“BC211 was a great resource for folks in the Interior to get updated [answers to questions about] where were the evacuation sites [and] where could people hook up with the Red Cross,” she said.
The 211 model is used across North America and was instrumental in helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey in the U.S., Jelinski added. “It’s a key resource in emergencies.”
The new phone and texting options allow Island residents greater flexibility to reach out for help on mental health supports, shelter and housing, legal aid, employment programs, seniors services and many other programs.
Over the next three weeks, the public is encouraged to stop by the United Way installation in the centre court at The Bay Centre, where you can snap a selfie or have your photo taken as the “I” in United Way and enter a contest to win a $1,000 gift card for the mall. Simply share the photo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and include the hashtag #unitedyyj to be entered for the draw, which happens Oct. 8.
During that period, United Way will also have a booth at The Bay Centre where visitors can learn more about the bc211 program. Contest details can also be found at uwgv.ca/beunited while general donation and BC211 information can be found at uwgv.ca.