Tree of Hope: BGC Okanagan bringing Families and Community Together
On the 25th Anniversary of Kelowna’s iconic Tree of Hope, the Stober Foundation will be matching all funds raised up to $500,000 and directing them to the YMCA of Southern Interior BC and BGC Okanagan – two local charities who are united in sharing their common goal of raising healthier families and communities through their vital, life-changing programs. The campaign runs until the end of the year and donations can be made online at https://my.charitableimpact.com/campaigns/the-tree-of-hope
A new program that is bringing children and their parents/caregivers closer together through healthy dinners and fun activities is making a huge impact on Okanagan families.
Families and Community Together (FACT), is a piloted program by BGC Okanagan at their Rutland Club. Originally funded with support from Interior Savings, this free program offers parents/caregivers and children, the families attend on Wednesday evenings and are served a buffet style dinner, offered activities led by recreation staff, resources or teaching parents how to make easy, healthy and budget-friendly dinners, group activities and a to-go meal kit to have for dinner the following night.
“I don’t think you realize how much my family needed this, the dinners are amazing, and the to-go meals really help with our food budget. It’s so nice to not have to cook the next night after getting home from work,” said one parent FACT participant, whose name is protected for privacy.
FACT quickly grew from two families to 17 attending over the course of a few weeks – for a total of almost 50 people.
“It was a huge success in terms of families enjoying the program, getting food to families and allowing them to spend more quality time together. We have already projected the next session to be at capacity and are hopeful for more funding so we can avoid having to turn families away, increase staffing, offer buffet dinners to more families, offer educational programs for parents and hand out more meal kits,” said Dana Hewitt, a Family Manager at BGC Okanagan.
FACT: Full bellies and full hearts
While one of the goals is to ensure that no child or family goes without food, Hewitt said FACT also has other benefits. This includes providing opportunities to build a sense of community, learn some helpful skills and information on a variety of subjects parents deal with and to give families a safe, engaging and positive space for children and parents to spend an evening together.
“We are hearing from the parents that it is nice to get to spend the extra time with their children. Some parents are struggling to spend quality time playing and bonding with their children when they come home exhausted from working multiple jobs to keep up with inflation. When they come to FACT the dinner is being prepared by BGC Okanagan staff and parents can use that time to devote exclusively to their child through activities led by our recreation staff. One parent told us that it felt so good when their child said they ‘had so much fun just playing floor hockey’ with them.”
Community partners have also joined in to let parents know about different resources in their community like the Mamas for Mamas Good Karma Market, Interior Savings on budgeting and planning for their children’s futures and Okanagan College culinary school teaching parents how to make easy, healthy and budget-friendly dinners
The next FACT program will start on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at the Rutland Club gym and is completely free for families and children of all ages are welcome. It will run for eight weeks on Wednesday’s from 5:30 to 8 p.m. For more information on how you can get involved as a participant, or as volunteer providing cooking support, set-up or clean-up contact DHewitt@bgco.ca.
It is through funding and donations, from campaigns such as the Tree of Hope, that BGC Okanagan can provide programs that address food insecurity and supports the healthy growth and development of families. The campaign has reached over $400,000 of the $500,000 goal by the end of the year set by BGC Okanagan and YMCA of Southern Interior BC. Please consider donating by visiting https://my.charitableimpact.com/campaigns/the-tree-of-hope.