The Shaker Mill Restaurant was full to bursting as Cowichan Lake folks turned out in force for the annual United Way breakfast Friday, Dec. 4.
“I’m not sure how long we’ve been doing this, but I know it’s more than 20 years,” Pat Foster, an organizing committee stalwart, told the crowd to officially open the event, which raised $1,400 and served 104 meals.
She didn’t speak long, however, and neither did any of the others to take the mic: Tammy Isaachsen from the United Way campaign, Sally Miles from the Cowichan Lake Community Services board and Lake Cowichan’s second princess, Sidney Fothergill, who brought greetings from the Lady of the Lake royalty.
Isaachsen explained that the money raised in Lake Cowichan goes to help support more than 25 programs as well as useful outreach efforts into the community.
Miles, who began volunteering for Community Services eight years ago, said she has watched how Lake Cowichan has evolved as its economic situation has tightened.
Addiction and mental health problems have moved to the forefront, she said, as has the really troubling problem of child poverty.
Poor families are existing on less than $18,000 per year and are steadily losing ground as expenses rise, she said, adding that it was also difficult to see the number of isolated people who were trying to make do with little or no family aid.
“Help is needed for them,” she said. Community Services was involved in the last minute organizing of its huge annual Christmas hamper campaign, Miles said, urging everyone to be aware of people’s needs when you spot them and reach out to people when they are out and about in town.