Through Danielle's Helping Hand fund, we have the opportunity to work with many individuals and organizations within our community. From the good folks at the Poverty Law Advocacy Office and Tla'amin Health to Lift Community Services and many individual social workers and recipients, we are so grateful to get to make all the connections that we do! Today we wanted to share a story from one of the social workers that we've worked with, about her experience representing applicants for Danielle's Helping Hand Fund. She said:
"As a social worker in the community, I'm often looking for resources available to support folks who need a bit of extra help. When there are resources available like Danielle's Helping Hand, it makes a huge difference. There are often situations that traditional funding sources just don't cover, so having a flexible option that "fills in the gaps" is really beneficial for the community. Additionally, having a straightforward and quick application process reduces barriers and is so appreciated - thank you!"
We love what we do, and it's thanks to donors like you that we're able to do it. We hope to provide more impact stories in the months to come so you can get to know us and our mission a little bit better!
Another year of local love! Members and supporters are invited to join us online for Powell River & District United Way's Annual General Meeting.
Date: May 3rd 2021
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Please RSVP via email to email@example.com
POWELL RIVER, BC -- Local families with preschool aged children have been happy to see the ORCA Bus back on the road this month, with new pandemic safeguards in place.
Chelsea Ballantyne, ORCA Bus Coordinator with Powell River & District United Way, said the bus is delivering the same preschool activities to families across the region, with some COVID-era adjustments.
“Like many local services, the ORCA Bus paused its activities in March out of an abundance of caution,” said Ballantyne. “In the six months since, we’ve been connecting with families on our social media channels while we work with our partners to plan a safe reopening.”
That reopening has now happened. The ORCA Bus relaunched the first week of October with StrongStart programming, offered by School District #47’s Early Years team, and is now expanded to include Family Place and other providers. Stops are currently scheduled weekdays in local Powell River parks, with hopes to eventually return to rural areas across the region.
Activities are free for families with children ages newborn to six years old, as long as they pre-register.
COVID-19 safety protocols in place, volunteer drivers needed
Kids and families have been excited to reunite with the familiar ORCA Bus venue after so much COVID-related upheaval in their lives, said Rita John, Early Learning Coordinator for School District #47.
“When kids are working through something scary like COVID-19, they need that continuity and connection,” said John. “The bus is that normal, fun place. Play hasn’t changed.”
Still, families who visit the ORCA Bus will notice a few health- and safety-related changes. Most notably, families are required to pre-register for all activities, and for now, they won’t be invited on board.
“We’re focusing on outdoor education and programming partly because of COVID-19,” said John. “Outdoors is considered safe by Dr. Henry and we thought this was a great opportunity to develop our programming with families outdoors, making it safe and a fun thing to do.”
Additional pandemic-era modifications include increased cleaning, a new awning to create a sheltered play area outside, and a staff driver to cover shifts for volunteers, many of whom, as seniors, are at higher risk for illness.
Temporary funding for the new safety measures was provided through March 2021 by the Community Response Fund, a partnership between Powell River & District United Way, Powell River Community Foundation, and First Credit Union. The fund is helping local charities adapt their services for vulnerable populations during COVID-19.
Still, United Way says more driver time is needed for the bus to return to full service, especially for time-intensive trips to locations like Texada Island and Lund.
No special license is required to drive the bus, and all training is provided. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer driver, or making a donation to support extra staffing costs beyond March, can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Families invited to pre-register online
Staffed by a community outreach worker, the ORCA Bus offers more than just preschool programming. Organizers say the bus builds community among parents and connects them with local resources.
“The ORCA Bus is a unique way to connect with families,” said Anabelle Tully-Barr, facilitator for Family Place, another program that partners with the ORCA Bus. “We sometimes get to see families that we have never encountered in any other family venue."
With loneliness and isolation on the rise during COVID-19, these community connections are essential.
Families with children ages 0-6 can find the ORCA Bus schedule and pre-register online at www.orcabuspr.ca. Adults are asked to wear masks, and to dress their kids for any weather, rain or shine. More information on safety protocols is available on the ORCA Bus website.
Despite these extra precautions, the ORCA Bus is committed to being a friendly space for children to escape and just be kids, even in a global pandemic.
“The ORCA Bus transports you to the children's world" said Maria De Mira, another Family Place facilitator who leads programs with the Bus.
With all the stress of a global pandemic, it’s just what many of us need.
Chelsea Ballantyne, ORCA Bus Coordinator, Powell River & District United Way
email@example.com | 604-722-1527