Our Community: Maids top up food-bank shelves

Merry Maids and their customers have cleaned up nearly 1,000 jars of peanut butter to help the Mustard Seed food bank feed hungry families.

Matt Tanner, of Merry Maids, said the company and its customers rounded up the jars of peanut butter as a high-protein supplement for family hampers.

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Tanner said he learned from the Mustard Seed that peanut butter is a prized item for insertion into family hampers. Despite the allergy threat, it is an easy, tasty, high-protein staple, perfect for keeping kids going.

He said his company had a successful drive last Christmas for the Mustard Seed. Afterward, they asked the food bank if they could continue to help.

As it turned out, July is the hungriest month of the year. Many Victorians go away and kids are on summer holidays and no longer receiving school meals. So donations go down and demand goes up.

“It’s really when the pressure is on,” said Tanner. “We didn’t know that.”

Allan Lingwood, a director with the Mustard Seed, said of the 2,500 hampers distributed on average each month, about 800 are family hampers.

But Lingwood said the number of family hampers passed out leaps to about 1,000 per month in the summer time.

“Parents are often stretched even further then because they have to afford child care,” he said.

Lingwood estimated the 958 jars of peanut butter will be gone in about one month because of demand. All families are asked if they want peanut butter out concern for things like allergies, he said.

“We are constantly trying to supplement our hampers with protein, canned meats, canned beans and peanut butter,” he said.

“And peanut butter is a great way to inject that protein into a hamper,” Lingwood said.

 

Build a reading habit this summer

In keeping with kids’ love of construction-type things such as Lego and Minecraft, the Greater Victoria Public Library has adopted Build It as the theme for this year’s Summer Reading Club.

The Summer Reading Club, which began last week, is open to all kids who want to join. All they need to do is approach their local library and request a Reading Record. They are asked to pick out a book they want to read. Librarians are also willing to help them choose a book.

It can be a book, an e-book, an audiobook or even a magazine. All that’s asked is that they read at least 20 minutes each day and record it. At the end of seven days they can bring their up-to-date record back to the library to collect a prize, a piece of pizza or a pass to a municipal pool.

Summer Reading Club is a provincewide program with 85,000 kids, 6,000 of them from Victoria. It is sponsored by the B.C. Library Association with support from the B.C. Ministry of Education, Library Branch and the RBC Foundation.

 

Students honoured for giving to community

Four Grade 12 students have been honoured with $1,500 scholarships in recognition of their willingness to give back to their communities.

Beacon Community Services, one of the largest non-profit agencies in B.C., which traces its origins back to 1974 in Sidney, handed out the scholarships to the students to recognize their contribution to community and school.

Honoured were: Dhanisi Modi of Mount Douglas Secondary, Maryna Ell of Edward Milne, Kelly Dinh of Parkland Secondary and Noal Balint of Gulf Islands Secondary. Also recognized was Jacqueline Gaby, with the $500 Donna Godwin Humanitarian Award given to a worthy Parkland Secondary student.

Meanwhile, Beacon Community Services has also elected three new board members, Jim Brookes of Oak Bay, Dr. Howard Brunt of North Saanich and Penny Donaldson of North Saanich. Chuck Rowe replaces Keith Ralfe as chairman.

Beacon Community Services offers a wide variety of programs, including counselling, mental health assistance, child, youth and family assistance, dementia care and home support. It operates with a staff of 1,100 and 550 volunteers.

 

Pedal your way to fundraising goal

The B.C. Heart and Stroke Foundation is betting you can look flirty on a bicycle built for 30.

The foundation is in the middle of a Vancouver Island fundraising effort called Big Bike. Teams mount a specially constructed bicycle made for up to 30 cyclists at a time and pedal it for about two kilometres.

“It’s a big contraption,” said Jodi Gaiser, a spokeswoman for the event. “But it’s a whole lot of fun, and once you get moving you are good.”

“People call us ‘machines,’ ” Gaiser said.

She said the special big bicycle is finishing up the South Island end of a full Vancouver Island tour. Teams are encouraged to raise some funds and take the Big Bike out for a spin.

So far, participants have come from service clubs, companies and even the B.C. Ministry of Finance.

Together they have collected about $250,000. Last year, the Big Bike Campaign raised more than $316,000 on Vancouver Island, part of a Big Bike Campaign that raised $8.4 million across Canada.

 

Longtime nurse hailed as health-care hero

Career nurse Dawn Nedzelski finds it tough to imagine herself as a health-care hero because she has always worked as part of a team.

“With health care it always takes a team and it takes good people,” said Nedzelski.

Nevertheless, colleagues at Island Health, where Nedzelski has worked since 1987, nominated her for the provincial Health Care Hero award this year. And this week, the Health Care Employers Association presented her with the award at a ceremony in Vancouver.

Nedzelski was recently promoted to Island Health chief nursing officer. She has also worked as a clinical nurse educator in the heart and stroke unit. And she has extensive front-line nursing experience in emergency, intensive care, rehabilitation and extended care.

Nedzelski counts as a special time in her career the years spent at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. There, she helped develop a palliative-care unit, assisted with the installation of a new operating room and pioneered dynamic staff meetings where all professionals could learn about each other’s work and responsibilities.

Also recognized for excellence from Island Health was Nanaimo Regional General Hospital site director Marci Ekland and the violence prevention team for its work in making the hospital a safer place.

The B.C. Health Care Awards were created in 2007 to recognize teams, individuals and organizations for innovation, excellence and service in the province’s publicly funded medical system.

 

Sports gear aimed at Forces families 

Canadian Tire has stepped in with a donation of sporting goods worth $300,000 to help members of the Canadian Forces and their families relax off duty.

The donation, including canoes, kayaks and life preservers, is a partnership struck with the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services.

The equipment will be made available to Canadian Forces Bases across the country including: Petawawa, Halifax, Edmonton, Comox, Esquimalt and Kingston.

 

Homeless agency finds its own home

An agency that provides help for people who often end up living homeless has itself found a permanent home.

REES, for Resources, Education, Employment and Support, has new offices at 465 Swift St. in the basement of Victoria Cool Aid Society’s supportive-housing complex.

REES offers assistance, help and guidance for people dealing with issues such as mental illness, brain injury and addictions often leading to homelessness.

Lori Ferguson, REES program co-ordinator, said agency clients are often dealing with multiple issues at the same time. This can make it hard for them to fit within government services.

“Our services are geared toward the people who often fall through,” said Ferguson.

She said the move to a permanent home is a little ironic considering the REES agency’s own long search for permanent housing.

The agency has been housed in six different locations in the past 12 years. It was even made homeless in June 2011 when its office on Johnson Street suffered a structural issue that collapsed the roof.

The new location for REES is especially appropriate, occupying the same building as a supportive-housing complex for people who may have difficulty keeping permanent housing.

Meanwhile, REES also got a little boost from the Victoria Bottle Depot of $3,202.60.

The money came from a month’s worth of collections from the company’s charity bins. These boxes are set up at Bottle Depots for citizens who don’t want to wait, sort their returnables or collect the money.

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