First West marks Canada 150 with a $150,000 gift to local communities

LANGLEY, B.C. — To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, First West Credit Union is reinforcing its commitment to local communities—the heart of Canadian culture—by donating $150,000 to B.C. non-profits.

Today, three charitable organizations each received $50,000 as part of a year-long Simple Generosity campaign First West initiated to recognize exceptional volunteer efforts. The grant recipients, Foundry Kelowna, Lower Mainland-based Just Breathe and Saanich Neighbourhood Place, were chosen out of the more than 100 nominees and will each receive funding toward initiatives they have planned to benefit the Canadians they serve.

“First West is fully invested in our local communities and the people and organizations that make them so wonderful,” says First West CEO Launi Skinner, herself an active volunteer. “What better way to celebrate our country’s founding than by celebrating what we believe makes Canada so special.”

The three recipients were chosen from among applicants in regions served by First West’s Envision Financial, Valley first, Island Savings and Enderby & District Financial regional brands.

Foundry Kelowna is part of the British Columbia Integrated Youth Services Initiative, a provincial movement to provide patient-centered care for young people age 12-24 and their families. With a focus on early intervention and cooperation between clinical and social support programs, the Foundry will bring 25 organizations and service agencies under one roof to offer solution-based programs, transforming the way youth mental health is addressed in our communities.

“Foundry Kelowna is an exciting new way to look at helping youth and families experiencing mental illness,” says Doug Rankmore, CEO of Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, a core Foundry member.  “This gift demonstrates leadership in the business community in how to play a critical role in creating and sustaining a healthy, vibrant community.”

Just Breathe is a fund created by youth actress Kaitlyn Bernard to support Camp Goodtimes from the Canadian Cancer Society. Based in Maple Ridge, B.C., Camp Goodtimes provides a unique and fun recreational experience for more than 400 children and teens and their families who have affected by cancer. The money gifted by Envision Financial will support the expansion of the Youth Council which facilitates positive peer-to-peer connections, enable the Year-Round Family Support Program to organize and fund additional events, and fund additional summer camp spots and travel assistance for kids and families.

“We are so grateful that Kaitlyn has chosen our Camp Goodtimes program as the beneficiary of her Just Breathe initiative,” says Sandra Krueckl, vice-president, Cancer Control, Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon. “The $50,000 grant she has received from Envision will go a long way towards ensuring more children and teens get to experience the magic of camp and enjoy a welcome escape from their battle with cancer.”

Victoria’s Saanich Neighbourhood Place supports the wellbeing of families through quality education and care programs for children and caregivers.

“The funding will be used to revitalize a 10,000 sq. ft. piece of property that is currently overgrown and underused,” says Collen Hobson, executive director of Saanich Neighbourhood Place. “We’re looking forward to creating a low impact, natural play space for young children in our community called The Little Woods.”

First West’s Simple Generosity is an innovative 12-month program that recognizes an individual or team who has demonstrated exceptional volunteer efforts. Those selected can then donate $1,500, courtesy of First West, to the charity or non-profit organization of their choosing. Paired with the Canada 150 grants, First West will donate $228,000 to local communities in 2017 through the Simple Generosity program.

“Financially supporting charitable organizations is paramount, but it’s important to recognize that people also make a difference by volunteering all of their capabilities,” says Susan Byrom, senior manager of community investment at First West. “It was important for us to recognize those who give back with their hearts and hands.”

Company Information

About First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is one of Canada’s largest credit unions with nearly $18.6 billion in total assets and assets under administration, more than 253,000 members and approximately 1,250 team members. It operates 45 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First, Island Savings and Enderby & District Financial brands. Visit for more information on First West Credit Union.

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