The Central Okanagan Family Hub is doing too much important work for too many people to let the doors close without a committed community effort to raise the money needed to continue providing programming and services.
That’s why fundraising events such as Friday morning’s drive-thru breakfast at Pearson Elementary School are so important, said Katelin Mitchell, director of services with KCR Community Resources, the lead organization that helped organize the hub just over three years ago.
The school district has donated two classrooms, a small office space and shared kitchen facilities, allowing the hub to offer programs and services to thousands of local residents and families over the past three years.
The hub “is open to anyone . . . anyone from the entire Central Okanagan can access it,” she said. “It is a free drop-in centre. We have it set up like a play station so kids can come in . . . the toys are all rotated so they can come in and do different activities. It is focused on families with children from zero to 12. It provides a lot of information and referrals out to the other agencies doing the good work in the community. We also have a lot of those same agencies that come here and deliver programming right here at our hub.”
A “healthy and delicious” breakfast that included water, snacks and fruit as well as a toy and book, were handed out by staff and volunteers, Pearson principal Rob Zoppi, teachers, administrators and hub supporters in exchange for a donation.
“There are many agencies in the community that have come together to provide supports and services together . . . we’re a one-stop shop for families,” said Mitchell.
The hub operated during its first three years with financial assistance from the local United Way and Ministry of Children and Family Services. However, those organizations are no longer supplying funding, meaning the hub remains in danger of closing.
In an email, Marianne Dahl of the United Way explained a three-year funding commitment for the hub from a bequest had ended.
The board of directors, staff and supporters decided they would work together to help raise $100,000 through various fundraising initiatives, including the breakfast drive-thru.
“After three years, we’ve seen over 12,000 visits, which we think is pretty amazing,” she said.
United Way’s original support was only for the first three years of the program, said Mitchell.
There is a leadership committee within the hub and they brainstormed to hold this event along with KCR staff and will do the same to come up with other fundraising efforts in the coming weeks and months, she said.
A fundraising campaign launched in early May has been dubbed Do A lot for
A Little and they have managed to collect $46,000 in grants and donations in just over one month.
“We are working together to create events like this, putting in applications for grants and to collect other donations and find other potential sponsors,” she said.
Mitchell is confident the fundraising goal can be attained and the hub can continue to be open and provide quality programs and services to so many.
“I am confident, absolutely,” she said. “We’ve already seen some outstanding community support and had some fant-astic conversations that I think will
continue and we’re very hopeful we will continue to see the funds come in. The community support so far has really been phenomenal.”
Friday’s breakfast was sponsored by Peter’s Your Independent Grocer, SunRype and Tim Hortons.
Mitchell estimated just over 100 people showed up to make donations at the breakfast.
Zoppi, principal at Pearson for the past six years, said his experience as an educator clearly shows children and families that use the hub and its services benefit immensely.
“This is not a Pearson program, but a community program and it has just been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “We’re getting families as far away as Lake Country and West Kelowna, and all points in between, coming here for the services. It’s getting more and more popular, mostly through word of mouth with parents referring other parents with their good experiences.”
The long-term goal is to attain sustainable funding so the hub can operate without massive fundraising efforts and hopefully expand to help even more families, said Zoppi.
“We hopefully can expand the service because there’s definitely a need,” he said.
The hub is located at at 700 Pearson Rd. in Rutland. You can call KCR at 250-763-8008 or the hub at 250-826-6264.