Survey guides United Way

An organization dedicated to supporting compassionate programs in Greater Trail is moving forward with a focus established from residents’ input.

Residents highlight housing, child care and youth services as issues of concern

An organization dedicated to supporting compassionate programs in Greater Trail is moving forward with a focus established from residents’ input.

Child care, youth services and housing were the three top priorities rated in last year’s Community Impact Survey conducted by the Trail and District United Way. The results, that were just released, will provide a “stepping stone” for adopting a community impact model that aims to improve the lives of locals who are affected by pressing community issues, said the United Way’s executive director.

“Basically the biggest thing is it will give the United Way a focus of what the needs in the community are,” said Trish Milne. “Historically this insight was pulled from volunteers on the board.”

After reviewing the results, Milne says the United Way has already begun to hone in on social needs that residents feel deserve more attention.

She discovered that there is a desire for more child care, with a two-year waiting list hanging over parents’ heads.

“This is a big deterrent for people who are applying for jobs in this area,” she said. “It’s unacceptable.”

Last fall, Milne attended a youth service meeting hosted by the Columbia Basin Trust, which explored gaps in services for young people.

“We’re well covered when it comes to sporting programs but we’d like to ensure that youth have diversity when registering in other areas,” she said.

The issue of homelessness is a reality for communities small and large, said Milne, who was excited by recent news that six beds have been set aside to act as an extreme weather shelter in Trail.

“Who knew there were people living under bridges and behind buildings?”

With funding from B.C. Housing and support from the United Church and Salvation Army, the shelter, located at the Salvation Army church in East Trail, opened last week. It will be active at night during the winter when the temperature falls below zero or there is at least a 50 per cent chance of precipitation.

While the United Way is no expert in Greater Trail’s social

needs, Milne said that connecting with informed stakeholders will help them to better understand the community they are funding when developing their annual campaign.

“You kind of go in with some predisposed ideas about who is supporting the United Way,” said Milne, surprised that the majority of the survey respondents were between the ages of 36 to 50 years old.

“People that generally support the United Way tend to be of the older demographic.”

She was shocked that more than 30 per cent of the 300 respondents were from Rossland, an area the United Way is trying to connect with since closing its Rossland location in 2003.

It’s projected that about $55,000 will make its way back into the community this year, slightly less than last year’s United Way contribution.

Funding goes to financially struggling groups – such as the Columbia Youth Community Development Centre, Healthy Schools, and the Greater Trail Community Justice Program – that work hard at giving back locally.

Milne is looking forward to the board’s first meeting of the year on Wednesday, where the survey feedback will be discussed while determining this year’s goals.

For more information on United Way, visit traildistrictunitedway.com or contact Milne at 364-0999.