Our Community: HeroWork renovates Salvation Army kitchen

HeroWork Canada has begun a renovation valued at $760,000 for the Salvation Army Victoria Addictions and Rehabilitation Centre.

The work centres around the rebuilding of a 39-year-old commercial kitchen that serves more than 15,000 meals a month.

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Other work involves constructing additional shelter-bed spaces, common-area updates and general building maintenance.

Due to the technical nature and size of the renovation, materials alone for the project are estimated to cost upwards of $200,000, double the typical renovation cost taken on by the organization.

The renovation does not include the cost of replacing kitchen fixtures and appliances, which will be borne by the Salvation Army.

HeroWork partners with up to 200 companies and more than 700 volunteers to work on infrastructure updates needed by non-profit organizations in what they call Radical Renovation projects.

In the past decade, the group has completed $1 million of renovations for non-profits in the region.

For more information, go to herowork.com.

United Way helps non-profit sector

Despite unexpected challenges, United Way Greater Victoria still managed to raise $6.2 million to help the struggling non-profit sector in 2020.

They partnered with the government, managing and distributing more than $1.5 million in grants through the federal government’s Emergency Community Support Fund and $167,000 that went to eight local organizations serving seniors through the New Horizons for Seniors program.

Through the support of donors who dug deep amidst adversity, the United Way focused its efforts over the last year on priority areas, developing partnerships to address emerging trends and needs in southern Vancouver Island.

The social agency also partnered with corporations, delivering donated goods and services to front-line health workers and people in need.

For more information, go to uwgv.ca.

Our Place honours young philanthropists

Our Place celebrates the work of young philanthropists with Admired Youth, a portrait campaign, launching on June 1.

The campaign will see local artist Elfrida Schragen paint portraits of 25 to 30 youth (ages 18 to 29) in the region who have made or are making significant contributions to social services by improving nourishment, hope and belonging.

“There are so many impressive youth in our region,” said Julian Daly, executive director of Our Place. “This is just one small way for us to shine a spotlight on their work.”

This campaign follows Admired: Portraits of Influential Women, a 2020 project that saw Schragen paint portraits of 40 women from Greater Victoria who had achieved success in a variety of areas.

“People seemed to love the Admired Women fundraiser,” said Steven Seltzer, manager of special events and corporate giving. “It was a great way to celebrate incredibly positive local stories during challenging times. And the vision and accomplishments of the young leaders we now profile are just as inspiring.”

An online auction for the portraits raised more than $47,000 in donations. A similar auction is being planned for Admired Youth.

Our Place is still seeking nominations for five more inspirational youth. If you would like to nominate someone, please contact Steven Seltzer.

Some of the portraits can be previewed and all will be available for viewing and donations online on June 1.

Youth employment program offers living allowance

A new free youth employment program will offer participants ages 15 to 30 a living allowance while they learn job-ready skills.

The Jumpstart Employment, Training and Skills (JETS) program is funded by the federal government’s Youth Employment and Skills Strategy and administered by Beacon Community Services.

The seven to eight-week program features both in-person and online components, including support with appropriate technology.

“Through JETS, staff and participants work together to strengthen skills and overcome the barriers that might otherwise hinder people from getting or keeping a job,” said Bob Boulter, CEO of Beacon Services.

The program includes skill-building workshops, career exploration, resume and cover-letter support, interview practice and job search skills.

Participants will be paid a living allowance that equates to minimum wage. Graduates of the program may also be eligible for wage subsidy placements to increase their prospects of being hired.

The program is open to youth who are legally entitled to work in Canada. Applicants are interviewed before being accepted into the program, which runs every 12 weeks, with 10 participants at a time.

For more information, go to beaconcs.ca.

Fundraiser for Alzheimer's programs

Join thousands of Canadians across the country in getting active throughout the month of May in support of the IG Wealth Management Walk For Alzheimer’s.

The event is Canada’s biggest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, taking place in more than 400 communities across the country.

Organizers have broadened the definition of walking, encouraging participants to merely engage in an activity that suits them, be it a walk in their neighbourhood, on a treadmill in their own homes, cycling, canoeing or even baking or line dancing.

People are encouraged to share their activities on social media to raise awareness and donations.

Funds from the event go toward local programs and services that improve the quality of life for people living with dementia and their families.

In 2020, more than 12,000 people walked their own way, raising almost $5.1 million.

A live celebration to wrap up the campaign takes place on May 30 online.

For more information, go to alzheimer.ca.

Effort to buy forest near Prospect Lake

A campaign by the Habitat Acquisition Trust to purchase a densely forested property near Prospect Lake by Earth Day has been extended to July 20.

The local land trust has been given more time to raise $1.4 million of a total $3.4-million purchase price for the 20-hectare property, known as the Mountain Road Forest.

The Capital Regional District has committed $2 million toward the purchase. Since the campaign began in December, it has raised approximately $650,000 — including a donation of $200,000 from the family selling the land.

“We are incredibly grateful for the extraordinary outpouring of community support for this special place, especially during economically uncertain times,” said Katie Blake, HAT’s executive director. “This has been a very ambitious fundraising campaign and we’re finding that we simply need more time to reach our goal.

“With an extended timeline and multiple foundation applications outstanding, we are feeling confident that we will be successful. We want to thank the gracious landowners and the CRD, who are showing their dedication to preserving the forest by extending the deadline.”

If the campaign is successful, the land will be turned into a new regional park.

Donations can be made online at mountainroadforest.ca or by cheque mailed to HAT, P.O. Box 8552, Victoria V8W 3S2.

Help with income tax available

People with disabilities and other barriers will continue to receive free help filing their income tax and accessing tax credits and benefits, thanks to $1.18 million in provincial funding to the Tax Assistance and Information (Tax AID) program. The new funding will help the program run for an additional three years.

“Filing taxes shouldn’t be a barrier to additional financial assistance,” said Dan Coulter, MLA and parliamentary secretary for accessibility. “By supporting DABC’s Tax AID program, we are making sure those British Columbians who require a little extra help filing their taxes receive it, and they receive it free of charge.”

The Disability Alliance B.C. has been providing free community-based income-tax filing services for those with disabilities and those with persistent multiple barriers since 2015.

They partner with the Together Against Poverty Society, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society and the Active Support Against Poverty Society to administer the program throughout the province.

People receiving income assistance or disability assistance often have incomes below the poverty line and face significant barriers to accessing additional financial resources through tax filing.

The services provided through Tax AID can help people access tax credits, income tax refunds and additional benefits such as Registered Disability Savings Plan grants and bonds.

Since 2018, Tax AID has served more than 5,200 clients and helped them to access more than $9.73 million in income tax benefits.

parrais@timescolonist.com

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