When we announced the launch of a $100,000 Community Relief Fund we honestly didn’t know what to expect in terms of response. We knew the need in our communities was great but it was really hard to guess how many applications we might receive. In the end, we received 99 applications!

Likewise, we weren’t sure what to expect when we invited members to invest in a Community Impact Term deposit, where they would receive a 2% return and Interior Savings would contribute a matching 2% to top up the Relief Fund, up to an additional $50,000. We were overwhelmed by the support from our members whose investments triggered the maximum contribution from Interior Savings, growing the Community Relief Fund from $100,000 to $150,000!

This money will make an incredible difference to the people in our community who are struggling right now. All the applications we received spoke to the hurdles our communities are facing; the increased need for services as a result of COVID-19; and innovative ways non-profit organizations are rising to the challenge to ensure people have the supports they need.

We’re pleased to announce 45 non-profit organizations across our 14-communities have been awarded grants ranging from $1500 to $7000. Here’s a look at the recipients and what the grants will assist with.

Nourishing Communities

The need for food assistance has spiked through this pandemic. Limited grocery budgets are being squeezed tighter as unemployment rises. For those already reliant on food assistance programs, access has been much more difficult as a result of isolation, quarantine and the temporary closure of many community meal services.

We’re very happy to lend our support to the following non-profits who have stepped up to respond to the growing need for food assistance. For some, this has meant spending more on food, take-out containers, sanitization supplies, and in many cases delivery to people’s homes. For others it has meant ramping up their efforts to support food security to ensure resources are maximized and reach those in need.

South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society, the Barriere and District Foodbank, Yellowhead Community Services Society, Boys and Girls Club of Kamloops, The Pregnancy Care Centre in Kamloops, A Way Home Kamloops Society, the North Okanagan Community Chaplaincy Ministry, CMHA Vernon and District, Feed the Streets Meal Service in Vernon, Central Okanagan Meals on Wheels, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, Kelowna Community Resource Society’s Family HUB, the Bridge Youth and Family Services Society in Kelowna, Lake Country Food Assistance Society, Desert Sun Counselling in the South Okanagan, Kamloops Food Policy Council, All Are Family Outreach in Lake Country, and the West Kelowna Shelter Society.

Connecting Communities

Most will agree, these past few months have taken a toll on our mental well-being. For some, without access to technology and without the in-person counselling, support groups and social circles they rely on, the toll has been far greater. We received many requests for help from non-profits who are struggling to stay connected to people recovering from trauma, violence, family conflict, addiction, among many other hardships. Many non-profits have had to switch to virtual services which has meant spending more on technology to run their programming and, in many cases, has meant providing access to tablets or computers to those they serve. In some cases, where in-person contact is still the only option, non-profits are having to invest heavily in personal protection equipment, sanitation supplies and hand-washing stations to ensure they can operate safely.

We’re pleased to announce our support for the following groups who are working hard to keep people connected to each other and to critical supports:

Equality Project in Ashcroft/Cache Creek, Barriere and District Seniors Society, Lillooet Friendship Centre Society, Royal Canadian Legion Branch in Chase, Ashcroft HUB Society, Barriere Heritage Society, Centre for Seniors Information in Kamloops, YMCA of the Okanagan and Kamloops, Central Okanagan’s Project Literacy Society, Kelowna and District Society for People in Motion, Elevation Outdoors, Community Recreation Initiatives Society (CRIS) of the Okanagan, Yellowhead Community Services Society, Kamloops Hospice Association, Central Okanagan Hospice Association, Desert Valley Hospice Society in the South Okanagan, Brain Injury Society in Kamloops and in the South Okanagan Similkameen, the Nicola Valley Shelter and Support Society, Kelowna Gospel Mission, Vernon’s Archway Society for Domestic Peace, Connect Counselling and Therapy in the Okanagan, the Okanagan Valley Pregnancy Care Centre, Kelowna Women’s Shelter, Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society, and Reach Out Youth Counselling and Service Society in the Okanagan.

Congratulations to all our grant recipients. You play a critical role in the well-being of our communities, and we’re very appreciative of all that you do. Thank you!