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Our Community: More hygiene products needed; caddie lands scholarship; Reybots heading to championships

Soap for Hope Canada collected almost 32,500 kilograms of gently used hygiene products and linens that would otherwise have ended up in the landfill.
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Angie Vinueza and Anne ­McIntyre put together Christmas packages for seniors at Soap for Hope in November. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Soap for Hope demand outstrips supply

A local charity that supplies hygiene products to ­vulnerable people in the community has identified ­soaring demand and an urgent need for community support in its 2023 Impact Report.

Soap for Hope Canada primarily works with the hotel industry. In 2023, it collected almost 32,500 kilograms of gently used hygiene products and linens that would otherwise have ended up in the landfill.

Volunteers spend more than 8,000 hours to ­repurpose the collected products and the finished product — almost 1.8-million essential hygiene products and l­inens — is distributed to the most vulnerable members of the community in 245 shelters, transition homes, food banks, schools and low-income seniors’ centres.

According to the report, demand still outstrips supply, with 563,124 hygiene product requests going unfilled due to insufficient funding or product ­availability.

“We saw a significant increase in the number of kids and seniors that we supplied hygiene products to,” said Anne McIntyre, founder and executive director, Soap for Hope Canada.

The report stresses the need for financial donations to ensure the sustained provision of hygiene products to meet the growing needs of the community.

• For more information, or to donate, go to ­soapforhopecanada.ca.

Student aces scholarship hole-in-one

A Grade 12 Reynolds Secondary School student, who was a caddie at the Victoria Golf Club, has earned the educational equivalent of a hole-in-one, after being awarded a scholarship valued at more than $125,000 over four years.

Patrick Coolican of Victoria was the only Canadian caddie to be awarded a 2023-24 Evans Scholarship, which will pay for housing and tuition costs for the next four years while he attends university studying music.

Administered by the Western Golf Association through the Evans Scholars Foundation, it is the largest scholarship program for caddies in North America. Funding for the program comes mostly from contributions by more than 36,000 golfers who are members of the association.

To qualify for the Evans Scholarship, each applicant must show a strong caddie record, excellent academics, demonstrated financial need and outstanding character.

“Patrick has excelled at Victoria Golf Club. He overcame extreme shyness to become an expert caddie,” said Jenny Dobell, Western Golf Association Director and Victoria Golf Club member. “He is a gifted pianist and an excellent student. We know he will thrive in university, which he can now attend, thanks to being awarded the Evans Scholarship. The members and staff are very proud of Patrick. It has been a great pleasure to have him in our caddie program.”

More than 12,040 caddies have graduated as Evans Scholars since the program was founded by famed Chicago amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. in 1930.

• For more information, go to wgaesf.org/a-life-changing-opportunity.

Reynolds robot team heading to Worlds

The Reynolds Reybots, a FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team from Reynolds Secondary School, has started a fundraising campaign to help pay for a trip to the World Championships in Houston, Texas, April 17 to 20.

The team is hoping to raise $25,000 on GoFundMe to help defray the cost of sending the 20-member team to the competition. Airfare and accommodations are estimated to be about $2,500 per person, which is a barrier for many team members.

The team earned their way to the competition by beating 40 other teams in the B.C. FIRST Tech Challenge Provincials, held last month. This is the second year in a row the team has won the Provincial Champions title.

The team currently ranks 155th out of 6,125 worldwide, with an undefeated 18-0 record this season.

• For more information, to donate or to sponsor the team, go to reybots.ca.

Grant will fund protection for Colquitz watershed

Peninsula Streams has been awarded a $250,000 grant to conduct monitoring, restoration and stewardship programs within the Colquitz watershed.

The B.C. Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund grant will be paid out over three years.

This funding will be used on a large-scale project that will cover the Colquitz watershed, including its receiving waters in Portage Inlet and the Gorge Waterway.

The salmon stewardship project is meant to increase the amount and quality of salmon habitat and promote urban salmon populations.

The project will involve participation by the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Songhees and Esquimalt First Nation stewardship teams, the municipalities of Saanich and View Royal, as well as the Province of B.C., Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

• For more information, go to peninsulastreams.ca.

Make your voice heard on community plan

The City of Victoria is seeking public input as it prepares to update its 10-year Official Community Plan, now until September.

The public consultation will roll out over the next seven months, with themed phases centred on housing, climate and community.

In the update to the city’s One City, One Plan, it hopes to gather public feedback on how the city can meet the needs of Victoria’s growing population and form a citywide vision on how to respond to the housing and climate crises.

“The residents of our city have been very clear that housing is their number one priority,” said Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto. “Through bold action, we will intentionally transform the city to meet our housing needs while prioritizing climate solutions and a livable community.”

The Official Community Plan is the long-term plan that shapes where housing, businesses and public spaces should go.

The public can have their say on proposed changes by taking a survey, attending an open house, visiting a pop-up event or attending an online information session until September.

“This is an exciting opportunity to plan for how Victoria can grow and better meet the needs of residents,” said Karen Hoese, director of sustainable planning and community development with the City of Victoria. “We look forward to hearing directly from residents about their vision for Victoria’s future and what matters to them most as we grow and change over the coming decades.”

• For more information, or to take the survey, go to engage.victoria.ca/ocp.

Arts groups eligible for Victoria grants

Non-profit organizations that own or operate arts and cultural facilities in Victoria are invited to apply for funding of up to $100,000 from the City of Victoria’s annual Cultural Infrastructure Grant program.

Organizations can use the funds to assist with purchasing specialized equipment, performing accessibility and facility upgrades, or doing feasibility and planning studies. Funds can also be used to support the expansion and acquisition of new cultural spaces.

Grants range from $15,000 to $100,000 for one project per year.

The goal of the program is to increase the availability of affordable and accessible arts and cultural facilities for community members to work, practise, host activities and connect with one another.

Some of the projects funded last year include physical upgrades to create new studio space, specialized stage lighting, new projection and audio/accessibility equipment, and an expansion feasibility study. Successful applicants represent a variety of artistic disciplines and spaces serving diverse communities.

The Cultural Infrastructure Grant was established in 2022 to provide a boost to the arts and culture sector that was hard-hit by the global pandemic.

The deadline to apply for the grant is April 26. Interested organizations can register to participate in a free online information session at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 3. The online session will be recorded and available on the city’s website for those who are unable to attend.

Potential applicants can also schedule a meeting with city staff to confirm eligibility or seek assistance in refining their applications.

• For more information, go to victoria.ca/CIG.

parrais@timescolonist.com