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Our Community: 100 women make a huge difference

It took just 114 days for 100 local women to raise more than $100,000 to build a home for a single mom.

It took just 114 days for 100 local women to raise more than $100,000 to build a home for a single mom.

In February, Habitat for Humanity Victoria launched an ambitious fundraising campaign to encourage 100 local women to donate $1,000 each toward the construction of the home, one of four homes the charity is building at 4000 Cedar Hill Cross Rd.

The campaign was launched to help build a home for Amanda (last name withheld), a single mom with two young boys. Even with a stable job, she has had to uproot her family multiple times due to unfit living conditions and increasingly unaffordable rents. The house will give her a chance to put down roots and provide a brighter future for her children.

“The response from local women to help fund the building of a home for a local single mother and her kids has been nothing short of extraordinary,” said Yolanda Meijer, executive director of the local chapter of the charity. “One thing we heard over and over during the campaign is that women really identified with Amanda’s story. Several women shared that they, too, had been in a similar situation and helped by others. Being able to pay it forward and help someone struggling through the same challenges was deeply gratifying for them.”

The charity covers its administrative overhead through the net proceeds of its ReStore, which sells new and gently used building supplies, appliances and home goods. For details, go to


Freefalling for the fight against breast cancer

Twenty-two members of the Angels Abreast dragon-boat team traded their paddles for parachutes in the Jump for a Cure fundraiser last month.

The team, comprised of members from Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Parksville and Port Alberni, helps breast-cancer survivors throughout central Vancouver Island. They partnered with Skydive Vancouver Island to do tandem skydives, where participants experience a freefall at 190 km/hr from a height of more than 3,050 metres.

A portion of the proceeds from each tandem skydive completed will go directly to the Angels Abreast dragon-boat team.

The team participates in dragon-boat races throughout the province to promote public awareness of breast cancer and enable those living with the disease to enjoy full and active lives.

All the participants at the event were first-time jumpers, and the oldest participant was 73. They also had a crowd of up to 60 supporters cheering them on, with a barbecue by the Parksville/Qualicum Beach Aero Club after the jump.

The team raised almost $1,000.

Skydive Vancouver Island is located at the Qualicum Beach Airport and is a member of the Canadian Sport Parachute Association. For details about the dragon boat team, go to


A tea party for kids and adults alike

Treat yourself and the special children in your life to Wonderland Tea, a tea party to delight children of all ages, with partial proceeds to benefit the Girl Guides next Sunday.

Children get to experience and enjoy a real grownup tea party in a relaxed child-friendly atmosphere. The Alice in Wonderland theme of the event includes a Mad Hatter as a host at every table. Visitors will sip their tea amid oversized flowers with a Queen of Hearts soldier standing guard.

The Cold Cut Combo and the Enchanted Fables Wonderland Troupe will provide an afternoon of music, games and entertainment. Some Girl Guides will be volunteering at the event.

The event is $30 per person, $15 for children five to eight, free under four. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Latch Inn Restaurant, 2328 Harbour Rd., Sidney. Cash-only tickets at Tanners Books and Kiddin’ Around. For details, go to the Wonderland Tea Facebook page.


Victorians’ bikes make charitable trek to Africa

Generous Victorians once again opened their hearts — and cleared up some room in garages and sheds — in response to the latest call for good used bicycles for Bicycles for Humanity.

This time more than 450 used bikes, along with assorted parts, were packed into a 40-foot shipping container to start its journey to Zomba, Malawi, Africa. The shipment, the seventh for the organization, also marks the group’s 3,000th bike shipped to Africa.

“Most of the bikes were in good to very good condition,” said Chris Wille, co-director for the non-profit group. “They were of the good old-style steel-frame mountain-bike variety, exactly what we were seeking, as those rugged bikes work the best over on the rough African roads.”

He said each bike has a unique ability to change a life.

A portion of the bikes are donated to organizations that help the needy. Locals are employed to fix up and refurbish the bikes. The bikes are sold for very modest amounts to the locals who use them to greatly improve their access to food, water, employment, school and work. Any profits the bike sales generate are put back into the program.

“There are thousands of good used bikes languishing in people’s garages here in Greater Victoria that could be put to very good use,” said Wille. “We have found over the years that many people we talk to wish their used bikes could go to a good home/charity/program, but, until they read about it in the paper, they did not know who to contact or where to send them. Once they find out about Bicycles for Humanity, they are happy to see the bike go to good use.”

For info on where the bikes go and how they are utilized, go to or


Challenge raises $50,000 in prostate benefit

More than 200 urban adventurers managed to raise $50,000 by racing around downtown Victoria for the fifth anniversary of the UrbaCity Challenge, which took place last month.

The fundraiser saw some teams take to Segways outside the Crystal Gardens, while others hit the waves on paddleboards at Ocean River Sports, in a lighthearted adventure race for charity.

In total there were 26 “challenge stations” at local businesses and hotspots, each demanding tests of brain and body.

“We set a lofty goal of raising $50,000 in honour of our fifth year, and the enthusiasm of our participants made it happen,” said Duff Lang, President of Maximus Canada, the UrbaCity presenting partner. “In addition to the many local businesses for sponsoring the event, donating prizes and hosting Challenge Stations throughout the downtown core, this was the most successful UrbaCity yet.”

Racers brought in more than $35,000 in fundraising, with a standing donation of $15,000 from Maximus Canada. The total was donated to The Prostate Centre, which provides prostate cancer screening, outreach, counselling, information, and care for men and their families in the community. For details, go to or


Fundraiser battles post-partum depression

More than 100 people took part in the inaugural Climb Out of the Darkness fundraising walk, hosted by the Victoria Department of Midwifery, held last month.

The fundraising walk was also meant to bring awareness to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, such as post-partum depression, which affects one in seven women.

The group raised more than $1,600 locally, with 15 per cent of the proceeds directly benefiting the Pacific Post-partum Support Society in Vancouver.

Post-partum Progress, the umbrella organization, reported more than $223,000 was raised by walks held across North America. For details, go to or


Home Depot staff pitch in to aid youth shelter

A team of approximately 30 volunteers from the Home Depot, some who came from as far as Duncan, performed needed maintenance to the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society’s Kiwanis Emergency Shelter last month.

The volunteers were part of Team Depot, a program where Home Depot employees are encouraged and empowered to give back the community. Every year volunteers contribute more than 60,000 hours of their spare time to perform basic repairs and modifications to homes and facilities. Last year, teams across the country participated in more than 200 projects.

The home-improvement supply company supports the Orange Door Project, which emphasizes stable housing, support services and hope for homeless youth. It is part of a three-year, $10-million pledge to provide vulnerable youth with the support they require to establish independent, productive lives.

“Our associates are helping put an end to youth homelessness by taking a leadership role in their communities.” said Bill Lennie, chairman of the foundation and president of Home Depot Canada. “By volunteering on projects with local partners, associates are supporting physical improvements to bring housing and hope to youth in need.”

In Victoria, the volunteers rolled up their sleeves to update the paint, fix plumbing and do electrical work at the Kiwanis Emergency Youth Shelter, a 10-bed facility that provides services for youth between the ages of 13 to 18 who are in crisis and have no safe housing alternatives. During the past three years, more than 1,500 youth and families have accessed services at the shelter.

For details, go to or