Valley First injects more than $108,000 into local communities

Valley First established a charitable endowment with the First West Foundation in 2010 to generate ongoing community funding in the Valley First region. Community distributions began the subsequent year and grants from this fund support charities and programs enhancing individual and community resiliency, particularly in the area of hunger and food security issues throughout Valley First’s communities. The scope of funding was broadened outside of food security issues leading to some innovative new projects being supported.

The First West Foundation, through its Valley First Community Endowment, is granting $108,260 this year - a total of 13 grants - to deserving charities across the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. Funds will directly support programs or initiatives that contribute to building resilient and resourceful communities.

Below is an overview of the 13 charities and the projects that are being funded:

Organization Name /

Project Name

Project Description


Grant Amount

Okanagan Similkameen Neurological Society


Valley First Teaching Kitchen

To complete and better equip the Valley First Teaching Kitchen project which began last year at OSNS. This project intends to help young children, particularly those with developmental challenges, have a healthy relationship with nutritious food. The project teaches and supports many children directly and also includes a parental education component.



Kindale Development Association


Look and Cook

Funding for a life skill building pilot project for young adults with diverse abilities who want to live independently and/or gain paid employment.  The project will focus on developing the skills, resourcefulness, and self-sufficiency with nutrition and food preparation that the participants need in order to improve their capacity and ability to transition successfully from teenage to independent adult life in the community.

Armstrong, Vernon


Vernon Women's Transition Society


Skill-based groups for children, youth and parents

Funding to support the facilitation of psycho-educational and support groups for children, youth and families within our counselling and advocacy programs. Groups will address topics such as enhancing emotional well-being and coping skills for children who have witnessed domestic violence or experienced abuse, and support and psycho-education for non-offending parents of children who have been sexually abused. The goal of each group is to increase wellness, healing from trauma and increase the capacity of the child or parent.



Mental Illness Family Support Center


Farm Friends Program

Funding to run the Farm Friends program, which serves those living with mental illness and/or addictions and their family members.  Farm Friends builds family resiliency and creates community engagement, reducing isolation. The program educates participants about mental illness and about food security /sustainability/growing food.  Farm Friends reduces stigma for those living with mental illness and/or addictions allowing participants to become more empowered, resourceful and involved in their own care while encouraging the involvement of family in the process.



Penticton & District Community Resources Society


Nutritional Enhancement Program for South Okanagan Childcare Centres

Support to enhance nutrition in the early learning and child care centres located throughout the South Okanagan. The Nutritional Enhancement Program ensures 300 children have year-round access to healthy food and teaches kids about healthy food choices, baking, food safety, shopping and more. Many of the children that access our services are considered “at risk” due to low income, family instability, unemployment and children with support needs. The program helps reduce hunger and enhances nutrition and learning.

Oliver, Keremeos, Penticton


School District 53 – Cawston Primary School


Food Programming

Funding to support the ongoing food programming efforts. We have expanded our hot lunch program from one day a week two years ago to three during the 2015-16 year and to five days a week this year. We have observed an increase in attention, willingness to learn and general health in our students as we provide more access to healthy food.



South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation


Patient Care Tower at Penticton Regional Hospital  

Second installment of 5 towards a $100,000 commitment from the Valley First Community Endowment. An additional $50,000 was committed from the credit union’s community investment funding for a total of $150,000 from Valley First. Funding towards a large capital campaign for the Patient Care Tower at Penticton Regional Hospital (PRH). The new Patient Care Tower will include new ambulatory care clinics, 84 single-bed rooms, five operating rooms, new digital imaging equipment, MRI, helipad and UBCO Medical School. Phase 1 of the construction began in 2016 and will be completed by early 2019.



Princeton Family Services Society


Cooking with Slow Cookers

Funding to run 3 crock pot courses with a goal to foster community relationships while teaching participants about nutrition.  Our focus is to promote the convenience of preparing easy, tasty meals in a crock pot while encouraging nutrition within a budget focusing on what food is in season.



Whitevalley Community Resource Centre


Breaking Bread

Funding towards the seniors programming component of the application.  Programs that recognize the importance of healthy nutrition; having the knowledge to prepare and use it; the need to support some clients who might not easily have the means to provide healthy meals/snacks; and the significance of “breaking bread together”.  Many of the programs offered include healthy snacks and instruction/mentoring on preparation. 



Boys and Girls Club of Kamloops


Community Cooking Classes

Funding to run a yearlong community cooking course for youth and adults who come from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, access the foodbank, and/or lack adequate nutritional education and support. The group will enhance participants’ food security and sustainability; health and nutritional knowledge; food safe, preparation, and budgeting skills; and community resources & supports.



YMCA of Okanagan Association


YMCA Young Parents program

Funding is for food and incidentals for At-Risk Young Parents aged who are returning to Kelowna Secondary School with children as young as 6 weeks old.  These parents face housing, mental health, life management and educational concerns and have often experienced drug and alcohol issues, sexual exploitation, and/or abuse.  The program provides free food, counselling, parenting training, employment preparation, certifications, and childcare for their children who also receive developmental and nutritional support.



Kelowna Women's Shelter


Inside/Out Violence Prevention Program for Youth 

The goal Inside/Out is to create a community free of violence and abuse by teaching children and youth in the Central Okanagan about what constitutes a respectful relationship, and how to make healthy lifestyle choices. The weekly program visits school and community groups for 5-8 weeks (September to June) and uses a variety of methods and media to encourage strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In the end graduates leave with the ability to navigate a variety of social and emotional challenges.



Kelowna Community Resources Society


Family Hub Satellite Pilot project

Funding for a 12 month pilot project that aims to connect underserved families including, Newcomer and Indigenous families to the vital services and supports they need to thrive.  Built upon the success of the Family Hub in Rutland which provides a ‘One–Stop Shop’, single point of access for coordinated services, support, information, referrals and resources from over 20 organizations that serve Kelowna’s most vulnerable families.  The work of the Family Hub is built upon the research and development of the Early Years Initiative.