United Way is best known for the funding of programs and agencies. In addition to providing funding, United Way also works with others in the community, sometimes as a leader, other times as a partner. All of our initiatives are collaborative with multiple partners.
United Way is pleased to announce the recent launch of BC211 in the Fraser Valley.
211 is an easy to remember telephone number that provides free, confidential, multilingual information about and referral to a full range of community, social, health and government services. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, information and referral specialists answer 211 calls, linking people to the services and support they need.
The 211 service will build, strengthen, and support our communities by providing an easy connection to reliable, quality community information for community and social services. The service is backed by a comprehensive database of resources including, federal, provincial, and local government agencies, community-based organization, and non-profit organizations.
In addition to the phone service, a 211 website is available which allows users to find their own way to programs and services.
Better At Home
United Way Fraser Valley, in partnership with United Way of the Lower Mainland and the BC Government is pleased to announce a new program designed to ensure seniors maintain their independence and live in their homes longer. To date, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Hope and Mission have been identified as Better at Home communities.
A lead agency will be identified in each of the selected communities. That agency will provide non-medical services such as light housekeeping, grocery shopping, simple home repairs, transportation to appointments, friendly visiting, snow shovelling or light yard work. They will recruit volunteers to provide some of the services, while some of the services such as housekeeping and light yard work will likely be contracted to the private sector. There will be a sliding-fee schedule for those projects contracted through the private sector.
We hope that the Health Ministry will see that the investments made in assisting seniors maintain their independence will realize significant savings to healthcare. It would be a win win for seniors and the Provincial tax payers.
More than 28 per cent of the children in BC are not ready to attend school. While poverty does not cause illiteracy, children from poor families have lower literacy skills than those from wealthy families.
United Way has partnered with Discover Books to distribute 22,000 books to children in the Fraser Valley each year. In the past two years, eight in-classroom lending libraries have been established. Four schools in each of the Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission and Fraser-Cascade school districts received 10 books per student. There is one "rule" - no penalties will be levied for lost or damaged books. Once per year, Discover Books will replace lost books. Early Childhood Development programs across the Fraser Valley are also being given free books for their programs.
It is said that it takes a community to raise a child -- this truly is a community effort. The assistance includes many retail outlets that have allowed Discover Books to place a donation bin on their property. Also, individuals in our communities donate books.
Discover Books collects and pre-sorts the books, then they are given a final sort by age and condition by a team of inmates at Mission Institution. Counted and boxed, they are then distributed through United Way contacts to schools the local school districts identify as having low literacy rates. Early Child Development programs identify a need and create a distribution process to ensure vulnerable children receive age-appropriate books.
Parents are asked to read with their children 20-30 minutes per day. They will now have access to books. The program is environmentally friendly -- we re-use instead of recycle, reducing the number of trees being cut in our forests.
Emergency Transit Assistance Programs (ETAP):
These programs allow individuals without the financial resources to access transit, to attend medical appointments, job interviews and other programs that improve their lives.
Abbotsford Mission: The Abbotsford/Mission initiative is between the City of Abbotsford, District of Mission, Mission Abbotsford Transit Committee, BC Transit and United Way. More than 28,000 transit tickets have been distributed since its inception in 2005. Many thanks to the two city councils and the community-based agencies distributing the passes for their assistance.
Chilliwack: We successfully implemented an ETAP program in the fall of 2009. Since then, the monthly demand has already risen to over 300 passes per month. Many thanks to our agency ETAP partner, Chilliwack Resource Centre, for managing the program in Chilliwack. Also a special thanks to the City of Chilliwack Mayor, Sharon Gaetz, and Council for their support.
United Way believes that our children are our future. In order for our children to succeed, they must eat nutritious meals and be active. We have partnered with SCOPE’s Live 5-2-1-0 campaign to promote healthy eating and physical activity. Live 5-2-1-0 is a simple, easy-to-remember message to help kids and families adopt healthy habits, and to help communities make healthy choices easier for children. The Live 5-2-1-0 message means:
- Enjoy - FIVE or more vegetable and fruits every day
- Power down – no more than TWO hours of screen time a day
- Play actively – at least ONE hour each day
- Choose healthy – ZERO sugar-sweetened drinks
United Way believes that education is one of the pathways out of poverty. The Government of Canada and Province of BC have grants where families can start Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) without making contributions.
We have partnered with SmartSAVER to inform parents how to access these grants. SmartSAVER is a non-profit making it easier for lower-income families to save for their kids’ future education. SmartSAVER helps families access no fee, zero contribution RESPs to access the free Canada Learning Bond (CLB) and B.C Training and Education Savings Grant (BCTESG)
Success By 6
This partnership between the provincial government, Credit Unions of BC and United Way, is an early-childhood development initiative dedicated to providing all children with a good start in life. It helps to ensure that children ages 0 to 6 develop the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical skills they need as they enter school. This incredible program is now starting to reap results. Early Development Instrument (EDI) scores are showing improved readiness for children entering school & improvements in further grades. View the Success By 6 website.
Vibrant Abbotsford’s three priorities are:
- Business Engagement: Encouraging businesses to have policies that reduce poverty. Top Abbotsford employer recognition.
- Living Wage: Encouraging employers to pay their staff adequately so that they can actively participate in the community, without a having to access poverty alleviation programs.
- Municipal engagement: Encouraging the Cities to develop poverty reduction strategies.