Dear Friends and Neighbours,
United Way Southern Vancouver Island has much to celebrate as it reflects on the past year, its 86th serving the region.
In 2022-23, United Way supported 54,000 individuals on Southern Vancouver Island. That means a United Way initiative or funded program helped almost one in six people in our region, empowering individuals, connecting with them in meaningful, pragmatic, and critical ways, and helping build better lives.
The past few years have come with enormous challenges. Inflation reached a 40-year high last year. Food prices have hit record highs. Rents in Victoria have increased by 27% since last year. And the toll of COVID-19 is hard to quantify, and we know it’s had an undeniable impact on individuals and society alike.
How we take care of each other in the toughest times reflects a community’s true strength. And when you unite with us, we won’t stop. We certainly didn’t in 2022-23.
We launched our United for Mental Health campaign in early 2023, to raise funds for urgently needed counselling, outreach, peer support, and crisis intervention programs for children and youth aged 16 to 30.
Despite the general sense that the COVID-19 pandemic has waned as an immediate threat, it still casts a shadow—particularly for seniors, who are more vulnerable to its immediate and long-term effects. We are proud that our More Than Meals program delivered more than 67,000 meals this year to isolated seniors across our communities, up from 50,000 meals the year before. It’s critical to us that we ensure
our seniors receive nutritious meals—and know that they are supported and feel connected.
Looking to the future, we have much to anticipate. We are gratified to report that in the 2023-24 fiscal year we are providing grants to 63 agencies and 77 programs, plus five Youth in Action micro-grants.
And our approach keeps evolving, to meet the needs of the community and of our community partner agencies. For example, we are refining a program model that supports people throughout their lives, from “cradle to career”— or beyond. The Early Years program supports families to ensure that all kids in Southern Vancouver Island are ready to tackle school by the time they hit age six, identifying and then providing supports to overcome the barriers in their way. We look forward to expanding the scope of this program so we can guide kids further in their lives so they can see and realize the opportunities in front of them and become independent contributors to their community.
And after much consultation, we are shifting gears to provide partner agencies with practical and pragmatic help. Very often agencies hit a metaphoric wall when they start major capital campaigns. They just don’t have the experience or capacity to handle it themselves. This is where we’re stepping up. We are establishing a new department that will dedicate itself to fundraising specifically for capital campaigns (within our areas of action), where the goal is between $500,000 and $2 million.
Recently, we signed an agreement with Hulitan Family and Community Services Society to raise $650,000 to fit-out their trauma-informed daycare, which is now in development. This fundraising campaign follows hot on last year’s grand opening of Little Phoenix, BC’s first trauma-informed daycare—a project funded by UWSVI donors and members of the Women United giving circle. We will be putting our experience to good use as we raise funds for Hulitan.
We have much good work to do in our great community. And we cannot do it alone. Please continue to unite with us, and we’ll continue to work to ensure our communities are safe and healthy.