Grants on their way to 11 Valley First Charities

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 $114,235 this year - a total of 11 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 11 charities and the projects that are being funded:

Organization Name

Project Description


Grant Amount

Boys and Girls Club of Kamloops



Youth Life Skills is a free drop-in program running from September 2018 to December 2019. Every weekday from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM all youth in our community are welcome to cook and share a healthy meal together and engage in 1-hour workshops covering topics such as mental health, nutrition, employment readiness, budgeting, navigating government systems, etc. to improve food security and develop the skills needed to reach their full potential.



CMHA Kelowna & District



Family Support Programs at Foundry are in need of expansion. Since opening in September 2017, Foundry Kelowna has seen 900 youth aged 12 – 24 access mental health and substance use services, 65% of these youth arrive with their families or caregivers. When young people face challenges it can be hard to know the best way to support them. The Family Support program empowers families and caregivers to find the right care and support for young people. Positive outcomes include: improved capacity and ability to care for themselves and their families; increased skill development and resiliency; increased connection to services and supports. Funding will support the direct costs associated with expanding these programs.



Food Action Society of North Okanagan



Community Kitchens for Seniors is a pilot series of Community Kitchen sessions in fall/winter of 2018/2019, focused on reducing seasonal social isolation in area seniors, increasing their nutritional knowledge, and creating new motivation to continue healthy cooking for themselves. The kitchens will encourage social connection and help seniors maintain proper nutrition in the winter, by cooking together and taking meals home after sessions. The program will provide take-home resources to help seniors continue cooking in a group after the program ends. Program design, materials, tools and resources will be shared with other locations and organizations wishing to establish similar kitchens.

Armstrong, Vernon & Lumby


Karis Support Society



The Parenting Recovery Program is a facilitated, recovery-focused parenting program offering resources, information and skill development for women in recovery who are pregnant, parenting and/or in the process of having children returned to their care.  Offered on-site at Karis, the facilitated class portion of the program is offered 4 days/week for 4 hours/day and includes one-on-one trauma counselling and aftercare for mothers who have transitioned to the community but continue to access our services. The program includes individualized goal setting, recovery planning, relapse prevention, cognitive behavior therapy, basic life and parenting skills, knowledge of child development, age appropriate behaviors, parent/child attachment, and impacts of addictions on parenting.



Minerva Foundation for BC Women



Leadership Challenge Workshop will bring together 100 women in the Kamloops area to participate in The Leadership Challenge® Workshop as a part of Minerva’s Combining Our Strength™ (COS) Initiative. The workshop is designed to inspire, engage, and help leaders develop the skills needed to meet whatever leadership challenges lay ahead. Each workshop will attract 100 indigenous, non-indigenous, and youth leaders who will come together to help fulfill their leadership potential and meet the challenges facing their community. COS is a joint-partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women, helping them to fulfill their leadership potential and meet the challenges facing their communities. Through open communication, resource-sharing, networking, mentorship, and skill development, COS builds leadership capacity within communities across BC.



Pacific Community Resource Society



Ashnola Peer Support and Leadership Program will provide training and employment to one past participant at the

Ashnola Treatment Centre in a specialized support position. This peer mentor will help bridge gaps between staff and clients and bring a unique insight to the team. With so many clients voicing their future goals of joining this field, a collaborative approach where successful participants can demonstrate personal developments would be an excellent way to (re)enter the work force. A peer leadership position will provide encouragement, hope and goals for those interested in taking the next step.  A successful trial will provide data to sustain a program of this type for years to come.



South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation



Patient Care Tower at Penticton Regional HospitalThird 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



From the Freezer to the Cooker program teaches participants nutrition within their budget while saving time. Families and seniors will prepare freezer meals consisting of produce and meat grown in the area. Funding will support four 4 week “from the freezer to the cooker” programs starting in August at Princeton Family Services Society.  This program will benefit residents in the area as almost everyone we have talked to has a freezer, limited funds and time. 



Whitevalley Community Resource Centre



Breaking Bread; Seniors program recognizes 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 through Whitevalley include healthy snacks and instruction/mentoring on preparation.  The First West Foundation funding will allow us to provide additional healthy food and snacks to more/different clients who might be vulnerable at our Senior Drop-In, Saddle Mountain and in the community, Parent and Tot groups, After School, Summer Day Camp programs. 



Vermillion Forks Elementary School



Afterschool Homework and Recreation Club for the ongoing support of afterschool programming, 5 days days a week for 2-hours a day at our school for all students (grades 4-7). Students are offered free tutoring by qualified Educational Assistants, recreation time, and healthy snack.



YMCA of Okanagan YMCA Young Parents Program – KSS Childcare provides support, food and incidentals for up to 25 At-Risk Young Parents (and up to 30 of their infants) aged who are returning to Kelowna Secondary School with children as young as 6 weeks old.  These parents (15-18 years) 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. The goal of the program is to provide comprehensive childcare while supporting the young parents in their education and future goals. Kelowna $12,000