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Celebrating the champions who help sew the South Island’s social fabric

The United Way Southern Vancouver Island fetes community partners at the annual Spirit Awards
The 2018 Municipal Challenge Spirit Award, District of Sooke.

Role players and highly skilled players alike, teamwork, a passion for excellence and a drive to get things done.

You’d be forgiven if thinking those descriptors were outlining the newly minted Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.

In the world of philanthropy, however, a huge swath of those same attributes apply.

It’s within this sphere of collaboration and achieving life-changing results that the United Way Southern Vancouver Island (UWSVI) operates. And together with hundreds of community partners, they get things done for all corners of the community.

That flare for selflessness and community buy-in was front and centre at the United Way Southern Vancouver Island’s recently held Spirit Awards, where champions of the community were recognized for their commitment to their neighbours across a number of fields and disciplines.

The Spirit Awards recognize and celebrate local businesses, labour, government and individuals in workplaces for their outstanding commitment to the community and achievements during the 2021-2022 United Way campaign.

“We’re so appreciative of all the support we get within our region,” says Hazel Braithwaite, Director of Philanthropy with the UWSVI. “We could not do the work we do without the workplaces and the individuals believing in our cause. It makes my heart sing when we can find people who are willing to donate or give their time to us as an organization.”

Seaspan’s Stephen Crowe receiving an award. Photo by UWSVI

Helping one person can create tangible ripples of positive local impact and the annual Spirit Awards are a reminder of how many ripples were created over the past year. Over the past year, 200 workplaces ran United Way fundraising campaigns to help out a fellow neighbour, friend, colleague or family member. Employees volunteered their time and shared stories about the impact that United Way has on workplaces.

Presented to the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI), the Naden Band Spirit Award of Excellence is about setting an impactful precedent for all to follow. This award is presented for significant long-term achievement in all categories and can only be received once by an organization.

“BCI has been a strong supporter of the United Way for many, many years,” Braithwaite says. “BCI met or exceeded achievements in all of the categories that we have and it’s really all year round that they work towards making donations that will help the campaign.”

Victoria tech firm Advanced Solutions was awarded the Chair’s Award of Distinction, which is the United Way’s most prestigious community campaign award recognizing individual philanthropic leadership.

“All of these organizations, right across the board, represent very high engagement, very high social responsibility,” says Danielle Mulligan, Associate Director of Philanthropy with the UWSVI. “They do so much more than writing a cheque and sending it to United Way. They are engaging their employees, increasing participation, ensuring education amongst their staff, hosting events and donating their time, talent and treasure to ensure that the United Way has the resources they need to support the agencies in the community.”

The Outstanding Workplace Campaign was awarded to the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling & Analysis. The distinction is part of a nationwide fundraising push among government agencies, with proceeds split between the United Way and other health partners across the country.

“In this category, we know those organizations have implemented fundraising best practices,” Mulligan says. “They are taking the time to ensure that what they are doing is the gold standard of fundraising: they attended our training sessions, lent staff to support the campaign, and are utilizing all of the available fundraising methods.”

The Quantum Leap Spirit Award winners from the Canadian Coast Guard quite literally embodied the name and spirit of the award this year, doubling both employee participation and fundraising totals.

“In our books, that’s a true quantum leap,” Braithwaite says.

These are but a few of the award winners and success stories that make the United Way’s work integral to the community. Whether it’s families in need; seniors; diversity, equity and inclusion; mental health and addictions or any other challenge the South Island faces, the United Way has been a beacon of hope for 85 years.

A full list of award winners is available online at