United Way’s ‘Hi Neighbour Program’ Launches in Esquimalt, B.C.

How do you support people through a pandemic in creative ways that have specific impacts? United Way Greater Victoria (UWGV) says it has found a way with its new community builder program Hi Neighbour, focused on helping the residents of Esquimalt, B.C.

The program is designed to provide support and critical services to seniors, people living with a disability, people living in poverty, single parents, and people with mental health concerns.

Hi Neighbour Esquimalt will launch by gathering ideas from residents on the community projects they feel would have the most impact. United Way will fund up to 15 micro-grants, for community projects that show “local love” to support and strengthen the neighbourhood.

The United Way team will also work with residents and community leaders to uncover unseen vulnerabilities. They will connect those needing services to appropriate help, as well as empowering neighbours to support each other.

Mark Breslauer, CEO of UWGV, tells Douglas, “Our social fabric is rapidly shifting, and this is an unprecedented and critical time for our communities. COVID-19 has the potential to have devastating impacts on our most vulnerable community members.”

Breslauer says the Lower Mainland chapter of United Way collaborated with the Washington Group of Companies this past April on a partnership to create Community Builder Programs in select locations across B.C. “Using a hub-and-spoke model, each program supports a neighbourhood that is identified and ranked based on their need and level of vulnerability (population need, child vulnerability and poverty rates).”

The Program is funded by the Washington Companies and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, as well as Seaspan Victoria Shipyards and Southern Railway of British Columbia.

Joe O’Rourke, Vice President and General Manager of Seaspan Victoria Shipyards notes “COVID-19 has thrown us all a curve ball in 2020, bringing a new set of stresses and hurdles to overcome. Our team of over 1,200 in Victoria is looking forward to supporting this program.”

“This initiative not only aligns with several of our strategic priorities, it is also a perfect example of one of the diverse ways the United Way supports our community. Esquimalt residents value their neighbours and community and this project is a natural extension of the connectedness we already feel,” says Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins. “It is wonderful to see this emphasis on collecting ideas from our residents and businesses directly for a unique approach that is tailored to the Township.”

Esquimalt residents have until July 15 to email their ideas to community.builder@uwgv.ca.

To learn more about how United Way is supporting the region through its Local Love in a Global Crisis campaign, visit www.uwgv.ca/covid19.