United Way’s Hi Neighbour Program launches in Esquimalt, BC

June 24, 2020 / by United Way

Innovative program supported by Seaspan identifies ways neighbourhoods can be more resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic.

VICTORIA, BC – United Way Greater Victoria (UWGV) is launching a community builder program called Hi Neighbour in Esquimalt, BC, to provide support and critical services to seniors, people living with a disability, people living in poverty, single parents, and people with mental health concerns.

Funding for this program comes from a $600,000 donation to the United Way from Seaspan and Southern Railway of British Columbia, with The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, to support eight neighbourhoods in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the Hi Neighbour program, UWGV will uncover unseen vulnerabilities in Esquimalt and connect those needing services and support. UWGV team member Kelly Binette will lead the program, working with residents and community leaders to identify needs and empower neighbours to deliver support to those in their community.

Seaspan, a long-standing supporter of UWGV and the local community, is encouraging its employees to volunteer and to get involved throughout the program.

Hi Neighbour Esquimalt will launch by gathering ideas from residents on the community projects they feel would have the most impact. Residents can expect to see a postcard in their mailboxes over the upcoming weeks about the program. UWGV will fund up to 15 micro-grants by September 30, 2020, for community projects that show “local love” to support and strengthen the neighbourhood at this unprecedented time. Residents have until July 15 to email their ideas to community.builder@uwgv.ca.

“I am thankful that the donation from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, in conjunction with Seaspan and Southern Railway, will enable the United Way to support the Esquimalt community in this critical time of need.” says Joe O’Rourke, Vice President and General Manager, Seaspan Victoria Shipyards. “COVID-19 has thrown us all a curve ball in 2020, bringing a new set of stresses and hurdles to overcome. Our team of over 1,200 in Victoria is looking forward to supporting this program and helping United Way make a positive impact in Esquimalt during this unprecedented time.”

“When launching Hi Neighbour we want citizens to know everyone has a voice and all are welcome to co-create what they never imagined possible in their community. Every neighbourhood deserves the opportunity to flourish and no matter what issues a community faces there are local solutions,” says Mark Breslauer, CEO of UWGV. “We are here to listen and learn and partner with the residents, businesses, community groups, and the Township of Esquimalt as to what the community needs and how we can co-create solutions.”

“This initiative not only aligns with several of our strategic priorities, it is also a perfect example of one of the diverse ways the United Way supports our community. Esquimalt residents value their neighbours and community and this project is a natural extension of the connectedness we already feel,” says Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins. “It is wonderful to see this emphasis on collecting ideas from our residents and businesses directly for a unique approach that is tailored to the Township. Council and I are grateful to the United Way and to the funding donors, Seaspan, Southern Railway and The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, for contributing to our community.”

Seaspan is a pioneer of the marine industry in B.C. and Canada, and one of most well-known and visible companies in the province. Seaspan is the largest manufacturer in BC with a highly skilled and dedicated workforce of more than 3,500 and operations in coastal communities including North Vancouver, Delta, Surrey, Victoria, Esquimalt and Nanaimo. Seaspan marine vessels and operations are landmarks on our waters and shores.

Southern Railway of British Columbia is a major transporter of freight in British Columbia. Based in New Westminster and Abbotsford, SRY safely delivers the best rail solutions to local businesses and customers throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, and Vancouver Island, providing them with seamless rail connections to international and North American markets.

The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is the major philanthropic organization for The Washington Companies and the Washington family. Funding for the Foundation comes from the profits of The Washington Companies and personal contributions from the Washington Family. Since its inception in 1988, the Foundation’s mission has remained unchanged – helping the most vulnerable realize their full potential.

United Way is a leader, influencer and difference-maker in the lives of people living on Vancouver Island. People can still support the United Way’s Local Love in a Global Crisis campaign at https://uwsvi.ca/covid19 as we move into the rebuild and recovery phases of COVID-19. Last fiscal year United Way raised $4.35 million thanks to over 7,000 donors and over 250 workplaces opening their offices to run employee giving programs. These funds allowed United Way to support over 90,000 vulnerable people in Greater Victoria.

Media Contact

Heather Skydt
United Way Greater Victoria
Director Marketing and Communications
Mobile: 250-686-3606

Deepa Pillay
Beattie Tartan
Mobile: 250-619-7110

Susan Fisher
Mobile: 604.230.1729