Chandos Construction employees volunteering through United Way at a Downtown Eastside urban farm were so inspired they showed up the very next day with tools and supplies to donate to the garden. Check out our social channels for more on this team’s great work!
For close to a century, United Way volunteers have gone above and beyond. Whether volunteering in our communities, in our workplaces or as part of our Campaign Cabinet and Board, United Way volunteers help strengthen vital connections and support those in need throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.
In 2020, volunteering with United Way took on special importance, and risk, as people stepped up to help their neighbours and communities and those most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This National Volunteer Week, April 18-25, we celebrate The Value of One, The Power of Many and reflect on the awe-inspiring acts of kindness by millions of individuals across the country, around the world and right here in our own neighbourhoods and communities.
“Volunteers are essential to the fabric of our community. This past year, because of the greater need for support due to the COVID-19 pandemic, their generosity in service to our community was more vital than ever,” says Michael McKnight, President & CEO at United Way British Columbia.
“To all our United Way volunteers, and to all who stepped up to help those in need in our community, we say thank you. Your compassion has been critical to making sure our community’s most vulnerable not only received the support they needed, but felt connected and cared for.”
Here are just a few examples of United Way volunteers’ acts of local love.
Volunteer Mary-Ann and Glen share stories duing a socially distant friendly check-in last summer.
Social distancing to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus meant seniors living independently with the help of family and friends, like 91-year-old Glen, faced special challenges from social isolation to mental and physical health issues. Almost 13,000 volunteers across B.C. like Mary-Ann helped seniors stayed connected, active and engaged through the Safe Seniors, Strong Communities initiative, which paired seniors in need with volunteers in their communities.
“Seniors built the community of Kelowna and the province and the country, so it’s time for us to give back and make sure they have what they need,” says Mary-Ann. Of her experience volunteering, she has this to say: “It’s just been a really, really tremendous experience, I’ve enjoyed it a lot.”
The initiative is a partnership between United Way’s Better at Home program, United Way-supported bc211 and the B.C. Government through the Ministry of Health.
Want to volunteer with seniors? Visit bc211.ca or call 2-1-1.
Newcomers help neighbours
Immigrant Link Centre Society volunteers prepare food hampers – while following COVID-19 safety protocols.
Five years ago, a small group of Canadian newcomers in the Tri-Cities came together to learn English. Fast forward to today and they are feeding 2,500 neighbours every month. The Immigrant Link Centre Society, a United Way Food Hub and its 75 volunteers, shows how a small act of local love, when nurtured, can have a ripple effect and grow to make a lasting impact in many communities.
“Really, our work is like friendship; all of us are working like a big family. This morning, a driver called to say he was in the hospital with his mom. He didn’t know what to do with his small kids. I called to another driver, who said, ‘Don’t worry; we will handle it!’ We support each other,” society co-founder, Reihaneh Mirjani says.
FortisBC Street Team delivers
Gabriella and Shawn from the FortisBC Street Team have been distributing meals through the summer
This past summer, the eight-person Fortis Street Team spent two to three days a week sorting and delivering food to United Way Food Hubs and community kitchens on behalf of United Way British Columbia. As well, they delivered Meals on Wheels packages to vulnerable, homebound seniors in Vancouver and Richmond on behalf of the Health & Home Care Society of B.C. Read more about the Street Team’s volunteer work here.
Volunteering with United Way is a great way to engage your workplace and inspire your team. For more information on how to create meaningful experiences for your tea, team online or on the ground, visit our corporate volunteering page.
Hi Neighbour connects community
Rick (left) has been checking in on Lance (right) by phone for seven months. They recently started taking socially distanced walks with Lance’s dog, Bella.
Rick and his wife moved to Vancouver two years ago. When they retired, they wanted to support their community, but they had no idea where to begin. So, Rick turned to the web and learned about volunteering through United Way.
After signing up and completing screening requirements, he and his wife, Marion began receiving volunteer opportunities immediately through United Way’s Hi Neighbour friendly phone call program part of United Way‘s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s were Rick met Lance and a friendship has blossomed. Along with walking with Lance twice a week, the pair drives another senior to physiotherapy twice weekly and deliver food to those in need for four different United Way Food Hubs.
Between March 2020 and March 2021, almost 3,700 Metro Vancouverites stepped up to help almost 4,300 groups and individuals with food hamper delivery, friendly phone calls and yardwork.
“For us, volunteering is a great way to give back to the community,” Rick says. “Many people require extra assistance during these trying times. Volunteering makes us feel great personally because we know that we are making a difference in the lives of others.”
Be like Rick. Volunteer!
Meet more local heroes
Watch for our social media channels this week and help us celebrate volunteers making a difference for others in their communities.
Feel inspired? Sign up to volunteer through United Way today.