Below are a just a few of the local stories from the United Way funded programs that impact local children, youth and families.
Julie and Jacob’s Story
A single mom receives help for her son
Julie and her 4 year old son Jacob live in the South Okanagan. Julie is a single mother and does not have family nearby. On a single income, her ability to access services is limited. Jacob attends preschool where the staff identified some developmental needs. He was assessed and it was clear that Jacob needed further support.
A United Way funded program was held at the preschool during Jacob’s usual attendance time, so he attended with his mother. Holding the group at a convenient time reduced the reluctance to attend. Julie felt comfortable in sharing her concerns and struggles. Julie was better able to understand Jacob’s needs. She learnt strategies to support him at home and how to explain his needs to others. Her connections with the other parents in the group made her feel that she was not alone.
A family learns to live with their son’s autism with help from a local child development centre.
Tristan was diagnosed with Autism in 2002. From the unknown of what Autism was the many sleepless nights wondering what this would mean for their son’s future, they struggled to cope with this new way of living. In time, they grew as parents and watched their son blossom into the young man he is today.
Tristan enjoyed the peer interaction the most. The wonderful volunteers at OSNS Child Development Centre helped their son learn skills in communication. These skills enabled him to become less socially awkward and more confident. Over time, Tristan became a leader among his peers and made friends.
As parents, they especially enjoyed the interaction and networking with like-minded parents who were just as lost, confused and mentally exhausted as we were. The parents could lean on each other and talk about their experiences.
Thanks to United Way funding and a team of caring professionals, Tristan is now 19 and transitioning into adulthood. The skills and confidence that he was able to take away are so evident today.
A local youth finds a safe haven when she needed it most
The story is about a youth who accessed the Downtown Youth Centre (shelter and drop-in) at the time when it was needed most. We think the following letter written to our team says it all:
“To whom it may concern,
The last couple of years of my life took me to a little brick building known to local youth as ‘the goof’, the Okanagan Regional Boys and Girls Club. While at first it may appear underwhelming, the staff and resources available at the Shelter and daytime drop-in are very valuable to the City of Kelowna.
Skyrocketing numbers of homeless or unfortunate teens and young adults. The amount of lessons and life experiences that molded me into the person I am today are plentiful and the peer support is awesome! I really like how the staff engage with kids and help us out when we are lost.
I have been suicidal and depressed, anxious or high and no matter what I’ve always been greeted with a smile and assisted with my goals. I love that! How the workers really sincerely care about the kids and our personal well-being. While not always seeing eye to eye happens, the staff are always quick to realize mistakes, adjust and move on after fixing the situation. Also the amount of available harm reduction supplies is amazing and the food and beds are very hospitable.
It doesn’t always feel like home obviously but it’s not institutionalized or indifferent to the children’s needs and it places it’s boundaries accordingly and it’s the closest thing to an actual home that I’ve consistently been to. So I feel like I owe the workers my respect even when the going gets rough because they’ve had my back through my worst and my best. I couldn’t ask for a better family.”
Thanks to the support of United Way, we are able to continue to support children and youth in our community. – Okanagan Boys and Girls Club – Downtown Youth Shelter staff