Our Community: Girls' soccer team donates money raised for Tokyo Olympics trip to KidSport

Members of a soccer club have donated nearly $13,000 to KidSport Greater Victoria following the cancellation of their planned trip to the Tokyo Olympics.

The Gorge/Peninsula Girls U12 Japan Team was formed in the lead-up to the 2020 Olympic Games.

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The group of under 12 (at the time) girls fundraised extensively in 2019 to pay for a trip of a lifetime to Japan to support Canada women’s national soccer team and play against international teams.

When the pandemic hit, they realized the planned trip couldn’t happen. They decided to donate a significant portion of the funds raised to KidSport Greater Victoria, which allowed 44 local children in need to play a season of soccer.

“This was truly a special story and incredibly generous gift from a team of young athletes who turned a really difficult disappointment into truly meaningful support for local kids in need,” said Jill Shaw, executive director of KidSport Greater Victoria. “This group of girls has made the difference for 44 local children and youth who wouldn’t otherwise have had the means to participate in a season of soccer. From us and them, thank you!”

As a token of thanks, KidSport Greater Victoria arranged for a Zoom call hosted by Jon Montgomery, a 2010 Olympics gold medallist for skeleton racing and host of Amazing Race Canada, and attended by Stephanie Labbé and Desiree Scott, both members of the current women’s national soccer team and past Olympians.

Support from donors means more than ever amid the challenging pandemic period, Shaw said.

KidSport provides grants of up to $500 to children 18 and under to cover registration fees for organized sports. For more information, go to kidsportcanada.ca.

A Comox resident’s 100th birthday wish is to raise $100,000 in support of Ducks Unlimited Canada’s wetland and wildlife conservation efforts.

James Edwards, better known as Stocky, was a fighter pilot during the Second World War, and one of his most memorable missions was providing protection for troops on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

The soon-to-be centenarian, who sometimes can be found flyfishing along the shores of a Comox Valley marsh, has embarked on a new mission to help protect nature.

Ducks Unlimited Canada has established the Stocky Edwards Wetland and Wildlife Conservation Fund with a goal of raising $100,000 in Edwards’ honour.

“Stocky is an inspiration to all of us,” said Greg Sawchuck, a longtime friend and member of the national board of directors. “As a veteran, he fought for our freedom. As a conservationist, he’s ensuring future generations have a safe and healthy environment. It’s a privilege to be part of his latest mission, at 99 years young.”

Edwards and his wife, Toni, are members of the non-profit organization’s community in Comox. Their motivation comes from a lifetime of fishing, hunting and birdwatching together.

Edwards says Ducks Unlimited and its team of conservationists are “a great bunch.”

“The work they do – you can see it,” said Edwards. “They’re doing it for the good of the country and the community.”

Edwards will turn 100 on June 5. A celebration will be held, should COVID health guidelines allow, in a Comox-area marsh to commemorate the occasion.

The Stocky Edwards Wetland and Wildlife Conservation Fund has already raised more than $58,000 toward its goal.

Ducks Unlimited Canada has completed close to 12,000 projects and conserved more than 182,000 hectares of wetlands and other natural habitats in British Columbia.

For more information and to donate, go to ducks.ca/stockyedwards.

The Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical fundraising campaign has exceeded its $7-million fundraising goal after just over a year.

More than 4,000 individual and corporate donors, as well as those who supported in-store fundraising campaigns, have contributed to the building of Vancouver Island’s first permanent High Acuity Unit.

The unit will boost Royal Jubilee Hospital’s critical-care capacity by 73 per cent.

High acuity is an intermediate level of care between acute Care and intensive care. It supports patients recovering from surgery, trauma or severe respiratory distress, and those being treated for serious medical conditions such as COVID-19.

“The community’s support of It’s Critical has been truly wonderful. Thank you to each and every Victoria Hospitals Foundation donor—as a frontline caregiver, your support is inspiring,” said Dr. Omar Ahmad, department head of emergency and critical-care medicine for Island Health. “The new donor-funded High Acuity Unit will save lives, and allow us to support patients from all across Vancouver Island for years to come.”

The donor-funded equipment includes ventilators, patient monitors, video bronchoscopes, a portable ultrasound, a continuous renal replacement therapy machine and other critical-care tools.

The unit will be staffed by more than 20 registered nurses, five critical-care physicians, seven respiratory therapists and other specialist positions.

For more information, go to victoriahf.ca.

The Rotary Club of Victoria-Harbourside is addressing COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on women with support in the form of a $11,600 donation to the Wear2Start Society.

The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has been dubbed a she-cession in terms of job losses among women and increased responsibilities around childcare.

The funds, from the Rotary Club’s Foundation, will help the society pay a part-time volunteer co-ordinator.

Staffed by volunteers, the society runs a downtown boutique that provides clothing and services for women to build their confidence and reach their goals.

“COVID-19 forced Wear2Start to close its doors to clients and clothing donations for a year. And when we were able to resume services, many of our volunteers — who fall into vulnerable age groups, have or live with someone who has underlying conditions — were unable to return to serving clients,” said Angela Mangiacasale, Wear2Start president. “A volunteer coordinator is helping us to recruit and train new volunteers to serve clients and establish a new system to allow us to again accept clothing donations.”

Clients may be unemployed, healing from trauma and violence, single parents, people with disabilities, newcomers, immigrants and refugees, or struggling with mental health and addictions, poverty and homelessness.

At its downtown boutique, each client receives several mix-and-match outfits, which can include shoes, a coat and accessories as well as a small bag of personal-care essentials.

They can also get a free haircut, if needed, from a local salon.

Rotary Victoria-Harbourside’s support for the Wear2Start Society is part of the club’s tradition of making a difference to the local and worldwide community, said club president Angus MacPherson.

For more information, go to wear2start.com.

With half its funding provided by donations, Victoria Hospice is calling on supporters to help during its Frontline of Compassion appeal.

“Palliative care isn’t only about managing symptoms and making people physically comfortable. It’s about closeness and humanity. It’s about helping families through the hardest days of their lives,” said Dr. Amy Tan, medical director for Victoria Hospice. “Masks and face shields and goggles and PPE seem to separate us. Physical distancing keeps us apart. Barriers seem to spring up just when patients and families need to be closer than ever.”

Many patients are choosing to stay at home longer in their disease process or until death because of COVID-19 restrictions. That means the hospice’s Palliative Response Team encounters more complex symptoms and psychosocial needs than before.

Isolation triggered by the pandemic comes at a difficult time in the lives of patients and families, says the organization.

“Victoria Hospice bereavement counsellors are meeting a tsunami of grief right at our front door,” said Marney Thompson, director of psychosocial services.

“We know grief has been painfully magnified by the pandemic. Suffering is amplified by people’s extraordinary experiences of illness and death — and sometimes a lonely death. Even well-resourced people who might otherwise be able to navigate grief with informal support from friends and family are now seeking professional bereavement support and counselling.”

Last year, Victoria Hospice provided compassionate end-of-life care to more than 1,000 people on the clinical unit and at home.

For more information, go to victoriahospice.org.

A chance meeting in the woods between an artist and the founders of a laser-cut wooden puzzle company has resulted in a fundraising puzzle in support of the Rainforest Flying Squad, which has been protesting against logging old-growth forest at Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew.

When Puzzle Lab founders Tinka Robev and her partner and co-founder Andrew Azzopardi walked through Eden Grove, a 30-hectare area of unprotected old-growth forest recently, they came upon artist Jeremy Herndl painting one of the majestic trees.

“Our massive 500- to 1,000-year-old firs and cedars and the forests they sustain are an irreplaceable world heritage,” said Herndl, who is part of the Eden Grove Artist in Residence program.

Puzzle Lab will release a special puzzle based on The Ent, an oil-on-canvas picture and the second portrait in a series Herndl has been making in the forest.

The puzzles are $80 each, with $20 from each sale going to the Rainforest Flying Squad blockade effort.

For more information, go to puzzle-lab.com.

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