The First West team cares about the well-being of the communities we serve, working to make a difference by contributing time, expertise and money to help our neighbours. In 2010, First West contributed more than $1.4 million and 4,000 hours of support to the communities we serve. Reinforcing our commitment to act local, each region leads local community giving efforts to ensure our support and contributions meet each region’s distinct needs.
Envision's community investment program focuses on four key areas: strengthening the voluntary sector, lifelong learning, arts and culture, and protecting the planet. Highlights of how our team in the Envision region has come together over the last year include:
- Teaching kids how to earn and manage their own money by funding PowerPlay Young Entrepreneurs® in Langley and Surrey
- Launching the Angel Tree program to give Christmas gifts to children and seniors going through difficult times
- Growing moustaches, raising funds and becoming walking billboards for the fight against prostate cancer
- Hosting Child Identification days in collaboration with community police departments in the Envision region
- Trading time at the office for the opportunity to volunteer in our communities as part of Envision’s fifth annual Days of Caring; more than 175 employees volunteered
- Donating $150,000 to help provide quality care for new moms and babies in Peace Arch Hospital's newly opened maternity unit
- Lacing up our runners and joining thousands of Fraser Valley residents at the fourth annual Run for Water, which raised much-needed awareness and funds for clean water projects in Ethiopia; 150 Envision employees participated – the largest number of company participants in the run
“What we appreciate most about Envision's sponsorship is that they don't stay on the sidelines. Envision has a holistic approach to their sponsorship, from the largest amount of staff involvement in the run, to the educational program they initiated, Envision a Better World. They care about making a difference at the community level, while helping a global cause. Envision isn't just a name attached to the Run, they're helping us move the Run from an event to an institution.”
—Ken Baerg, director and co-founder of Run for Water.
Valley First supports its communities through donations and sponsorships, but it also created – Feed the Valley – a unique community partnership that tackles hunger in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys.
According to Hunger Count, a 2011 report by Food Banks Canada, food banks will assist more than 90,000 individuals in B.C. in 2011 with children under the age of 18 representing 31.8% of food bank clients.
Launched to coincide with hunger awareness month in March 2010, Valley First set an ambitious goal of raising $100,000 a year for the next 10 years; a total of $1 million over the next decade. In less than two years, our award-winning Feed the Valley has already generated more than $225,000 and 7.5 tonnes of food for local food banks.
“Feed the Valley is an outstanding example of an innovative community giving initiative that is addressing a significant need in the communities that Valley First serves. The InNOVAtion Awards judges were impressed by the clearly defined goal, the dedication of the Valley First team to making Feed the Valley a success and the measurable results achieved in such a short timeframe. Feed the Valley sets the standard for innovative community giving initiatives across Canada.”
—Linda Archer, Central 1’s senior vice president of marketing and human resources.
Highlights of how our team in the Valley First region has come together over the last year include:
- Providing school supplies to every Oliver High School student after a fire devastated their school in September
- Bringing the Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan to Penticton, gaining support from participants and organizers to donate food and funds to Feed the Valley
- Ensuring mobile x-ray services remain in our out-lying communities by providing an annual grant to the Lumby & District Health Services Society
- Partnering with the Interior Provincial Exhibition (IPE) to create the new Kids Klub concept, an area at the IPE dedicated to children’s education and entertainment
- Sponsoring the Valley First Plane Pull Challenge, a community team-building event that brings people together while raising funds for the United Way
- Trading time at the office for the opportunity to enhance child literacy by reading with small groups of school kids