VICTORIA, BC – United Way is answering the call for support in the Capital Regional District (CRD) by setting a bold three-year goal of $15 Million to fund a network of social services and by launching a new help line 2-1-1 for all islanders.

Leading the way and standing together for the community, Bruce Williams and Mike Eso, 2017 campaign co-chairs announced the multi-year goal at United Way’s 2017 campaign kick-off event, celebrating 80 years, sponsored by Victoria Labour Council and The Bay Centre.

“As the largest annual funder of local social service programs in the region outside of government, we are committed to multi-year funding which offers stability to our community partners and allows them to focus on program delivery,” says Williams. “United Way invites the community to help address long-term social issues, and improve the lives of so many by 2020.”

In 2016, thanks to over 10,000 donors, United Way invested $4.2 Million to support 109 social service programs throughout the CRD. These funds worked locally to help change the lives of over 111,000 people – 93,000 adults, 15,000 children and youth, and 3,000 families. And now the bar is set even higher – the first time in 80 years to undertake a campaign of this scope.

The newest program to receive funding is bc211 which offers a confidential telephone, texting and online referral service connecting individuals to hundreds of community, social and government services. 211 is a free information and referral service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year in over 160 languages.

Trained and certified information and referral specialists link services such as mental health supports, shelter and housing, legal aid, employment programs, addictions treatment, newcomer services, children’s and youth programs, senior services or food banks to people seeking assistance. bc211 also helps service providers instantly find resources for their clients and provides information for caregivers seeking help for their loved ones.

“bc211 can reach a wide range of demographics in our community – it can meet our citizens where they are at in times of crisis and calm. We are proud to bring this valuable service to all Vancouver Island residents and with this addition, the national 211 service is now available to 70% of Canadians – either online or by phone and text,” says Patricia Jelinski, President and Chief Executive Officer, United Way Greater Victoria.

“For unions in the CRD, making life better for working people is a labour of love. Values like fairness, equality and working together are what drive us to make a difference. This is why the Victoria Labour Council works closely with United Way to foster change in the community and why we have sponsored their campaign kick-off event. Union members across the region can be proud of the work we do with United Way,” says Eso, President, Victoria Labour Council and 2017 campaign co-chair.

As the backdrop to United Way’s 2017 campaign kick-off event – The Bay Centre and Victoria Labour Council are sponsoring a three-week United Way installation and contest in the centre court at The Bay Centre. Snap a photo of yourself as the ‘I’ in the life-sized letters UNITED and share it on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #unitedyyj. You could win a $1,000 Bay Centre gift card for yourself and $1,000 for the charity of your choice. Contest runs from September 18 to October 8, 2017. For more contest information, please visit uwgv.ca/beunited. At the same time as the contest, patrons will be able to stop by United Way’s booth to learn more about bc211.

“The bc211 program fits directly with The Bay Centre’s commitment in supporting community initiatives focused on raising mental health awareness and support services for those who live and work downtown,” said Darlene Hollstein, General Manager of The Bay Centre. “We are excited to be partnering with United Way of Greater Victoria to showcase such an invaluable service.”

United Way Greater Victoria would like to thank the following lead donors for their support in making bc211 a reality for all islanders: John and Catherine Windsor, Telus Victoria Community Board, Kathy and Keith MacPhail, John and Marvie McEown, ALACS Fund through Victoria Foundation, Clint and Carole Forster, Edward Jones Foundation and local financial office staff, Berwick Retirement Communities, Peter and Helen Malcolm, Salt Spring Island Foundation, and Beverly Unger.

Donations to United Way’s 2017 community campaign are accepted at workplaces, United Way’s office at 201 – 633 Courtney Street, via phone 250-385-6708 or online at uwgv.ca

Heather Skydt
Director, Marketing and Communications
United Way
Work:(250) 984-2269
Email: heather@uwgv.ca

Patricia Jelinski
CEO, United Way
Work: (250) 220-7364
Cell: (250) 217-8698
Email: patricia.jelinski@uwgv.ca