Donna Fields, regional coordinator for the United Way British Columbia - East Kootenay Office, gave a delegation to City Council on Monday, Feb. 13.
The presentation touched on social issues and the role of the United Way in the community of Kimberley.
“United Way BC supports the development of healthy, caring and inclusive communities, by strengthening vital connections that support people in need,” Fields said. “Serving over 4 million people, we focus on urgent response, children and youth, seniors, poverty, mental health and food security.”
Fields said that the main challenges faced by communities in B.C., as heard by the United Way, are lack of access to basic needs, the effects of inflation and the rising cost of housing.
Additionally she said there is an increased demand on social community services such as food banks, and a need for rapid and coordinated response to emergencies.
“In response, the United Way assisted the Kimberley-Cranbrook Food Hub establishing to combine efforts and share resources, especially in food recovery,” Fields said.
Assisting in flood and other emergency responses over the past few years has been crucial for many communities, she added.
Fire and flood response by the United Way includes things like delivering essential need items including refrigerators in Merritt and other supply supports, that aren’t always immediately available through other sources in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
“This is because United Way has always had critical relationships and partnerships with a lot of businesses and organizations that can more quickly respond to some of the areas that United Way finds are needing assistance,” Fields explained.
The total amount the United Way invested in the Kimberley-Cranbrook area in 2022, 2023 is $476,679. Of that, over $8000 went to children and youth, $50,000 to food security and covering basic needs, and $418,415 for support for seniors, primarily in the Better at Home and Healthy Aging initiatives.
Fields also touched on the United Way East Kootenay Life Kit project.
“In an emergency situations the Life Kit speaks for you when you can not speak for yourself,” Fields said.
These kits are free and are prepared and distributed by the United Way. Fields said paramedics help them distribute these kits, and have told the United Way they look for the Life Kit sticker when approaching a household, as they indicate that the paramedics can quickly get the pertinent medical information if residents are unresponsive.
The Life Kit is a plastic envelope which contains important personal and medical information about a person. The form is easy to read and fill out, and includes questions about who should be contacted in case of emergency as well as details on medications and health history.
Instructions in the kit must be completed and the kit placed in the refrigerator in order for it to be effective.
For more information you can contact local paramedics or Donna Fields directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kits are also available at major pharmacies throughout the region.
Around 8000 kits have been distributed to date.
Fields also annouced during her presentation that she will be retiring this summer and the United Way will be posting the position very soon. If anyone is interested, Fields said she’s been working from home since the start of the pandemic and said the new person in the position will likely be working from home for a while.
“If you know of anyone who would like to have a job that has been very, very fulfilling working in the community, please let them know that they can contact me for more information,” Fields said, adding she’d be happy to add any questions they may have.
Mayor Don McCormick said that her retiring will be quite a loss to the communities she’s served, and congratulated her for all the work she’s done.