Less than a year ago, Bobby Holt was a man with a shovel, a bus pass and a checkered past. And he was looking for a new beginning.
When the snow started piling up in Victoria last winter, Holt went to businesses in need of snow-clearing services. That snowballed into a new career for Holt in January when he started his Complete Maintenance Services business.
This summer he applied for a $5,000 loan from Community Micro Lending, which provides small loans to aspiring small-scale entrepreneurs, to put towards the purchase of a pressure washer and a van.
“With the help of Community Micro Lending, it’s more than just giving you a cheque and a loan. They build you a community, give you a mentor, set you up with the chamber of commerce,” Holt said.
The organization is one of 69 non-profit agencies providing 132 programs and services that are funded by the United Way of Greater Victoria. Holt, a Cordova Bay resident, hopes his message will inspire people to support the United Way’s annual community fundraising campaign, which began today (Sept. 28).
The organization hopes to raise $6.3 million between now and Nov. 30. Last year’s campaign generated $6.21 million.
There are many people in Greater Victoria who have everything they need, but there are many others who go without, said Greg Conner, the United Way’s 2011 community campaign chair.
“And it doesn’t cost a lot to help,” he said.
CFB Esquimalt’s defence team also recently began working to raise $725,000 for the cause. It is the largest community contributor to the United Way each year.
“(The money) makes it to the people who need it most,” said Holt, who is also giving back by hiring employees through United Way agencies, such as the Native Friendship Centre.
“I try to pay it forward, the opportunity that I’ve been given,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who have invested in (me).”
To donate, please visit uwgv.ca.