United Way shells out support

Trail United Way’s mission to help build a better community was highlighted Thursday when the organization gave a financial boost to about 20 charitable organizations.

United Way Trail and District members and local organizations receiving a financial boost gathered Thursday at the Local 480 Hall for the Spirit Awards.

United Way Trail and District members and local organizations receiving a financial boost gathered Thursday at the Local 480 Hall for the Spirit Awards.

Groups applying for

funds must now outline intentions as part of new accountability process

Trail United Way’s mission to help build a better community was highlighted Thursday when the organization gave a financial boost to about 20 charitable organizations.

“Congratulations to all of you for the work that you do in the community,” said board member Barbara Gibson. “It’s just wonderful that so much is done by so few.”

It’s projected that about $55,000 will make its way back into the community, slightly less than last year’s contribution, according to Trish Milne, executive director of the Trail United Way.

But this year’s allocation process will run a little differently. On Thursday, the United Way gave half the allocations out at its third annual Spirit Awards celebration, formerly called its open house, and will wait until June to dispense the 50 per cent remaining.

“We can’t just throw money at people with no expectations,” Gibson explained of the new accountability process that asks community partners to fill out a report explaining how the money will benefit the organization. “This way, we can go back to the donors and say, ‘This is what you purchased.’ And if more money comes in than anticipated, then top-ups might be greater.”

The United Way is an umbrella organization that takes care of financially struggling groups that do good work in the community – including this year’s three new community members: Columbia Youth Community Development Centre, Healthy Schools and the Greater Trail Community Justice Program.

Modeled after First Nations healing circles, the three pillars of the restorative justice program identify victims’ harms and needs, hold offenders accountable, and involve victims, offenders and communities in the process.

The funding will help train volunteers in communication skills, which will greatly assist when they are interviewing those involved in sensitive cases, explained Kay Medland, who sits on the program’s board.

“To be able to further develop these skills will help really engage individuals,” she said.

West Kootenay Sea Cadets were pleased to receive a donation, which goes toward offering its young members an experience of a lifetime, like a camping trip on the top of the Salmo-Creston, where teens dug out snow shelters, built a fire and even hooked up with avalanche control workers for a demonstration.

“Most of these kids are from low-income families and they’re just never going to get this kind of opportunity,” said commanding officer Ronni Sullivan.

Sheila Hawton, from the local chapter of the Special Olympics, said financial assistance comes in handy when athletes are traveling to big competitions. Her son Stuart Hawton earned a gold medal at the 2010 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games in July held in London, Ont.

Heather Hamer, Camp Tweedsmuir chair and a long-time force in the local Scout movement, was emotional when she spoke about hosting a youth summer camp last year for the first time in a long time. She looks forward to another this year, adding that she’d like to include more spots for underprivileged kids.

“My goal is to access these kids who really need summer camp,” she said.

Other success stories include the Canadian Red Cross, which runs a program that lends mobile equipment like wheelchairs and canes to alleviate costs; the IHA Dental Access Fund, which supports emergency dental needs; Career Development Services, which provides employment opportunities to people with barriers; and Students Against Drinking and Driving, a group of teens who work hard at combatting drinking and driving.

A special thanks was given to Harvie Hurd, owner of Gordon Walls Window and Floor Coverings, for offering the United Way reduced rent at its new location above his business and going beyond the call of landlord duty by updating the space.

“It’s these little things that make a really big difference,” said Milne.

Organizations looking to become affiliates for the next grand donation, can contact the United Way at 364-0999 or info@traildistrictunitedway.com