Easter Seals Camp will be going virtual this year with plenty of fun activities. (submitted)

Coming up in Cowichan: Youth Outreach fundraiser, Easter Seals camp, riding for Hospice

New youth van needs donations

During the month of June, the CMHA Cowichan Valley Branch is participating in the Great Canadian Giving Challenge to raise funds to replace their Youth Outreach mini-van.

Each dollar donated between June 1 and June 30 will be a single entry into a random draw for $20,000.

“The more dollars we raise, the more chances we have to win. The grand prize draw will be made on Canada Day — July 1, 2020,” said Anne Marie Thornton, manager of community engagement and fund development for the CMHA Cowichan Branch, in a press release.

The CMHA Cowichan Valley Branch is a champion for mental health, facilitating access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness and addiction.

“There is an urgent, regional need to support street-involved and at-risk youth,” Thornton said.

The Child and Youth Services Branch of the CMHA-CVB employs eight mobile Youth Outreach Engagement Workers working in teams of two to cover the Cowichan Valley. The Youth Outreach Team mini-van frequents camp areas and other temporary sites distributing food, water, toiletries, blankets, clothing, tents and more. The Youth Outreach Nurse often rides along to provide basic first aid.

“Many of the youth who are connected with the Youth Outreach Team are in the early days of addiction and homelessness,” Thornton explained. “The teams provide them with access to services, nourishment, social connectivity, medical support and empathy. Whether it is taking someone for a coffee, providing critical support or simply listening, Youth Outreach Workers are often the only friendly face these youth encounter in their daily lives.”

The Youth Outreach mini-van served the organization well but it is now well past its prime, she said. Maintenance costs alone for last year were over $6,000.

“These funds could be better spent elsewhere so it is time for us to replace our van,” Thornton said. “As these funds are not part of our annual operating budget, we are embarking on a fundraising campaign for a new youth outreach van. The Great Canadian Giving Challenge is the perfect time to launch our campaign because of the added bonus of a potential random prize of $20,000.”

See https://www.cmhacowichanvalley.com/great_canadian_giving_challenge to donate.

All donations over $20 will receive a tax receipt.

Easter Seal camp goes online

The health and safety of the children who attend summer camps is Easter Seals’ top priority. Responding to the COVD-19 restrictions, Easter Seals made the early decision back in April to cancel their Shawnigan Lake Summer Camp for children and adults with disabilities and start planning their virtual summer camp that they have now launched and called Camp@Home.

“The mandated closure of facilities and social distancing, along with our inability to start staff training, a sudden decline in funding and the need to keep everyone healthy and safe, are just some of the reasons we had to take early action to redesign our overnight summer camps,” says Lisa Beck, president and CEO of Easter Seals BC/Yukon. “It was so disappointing to have to cancel our traditional camps for this year, but it was the right decision as we keep the health and safety of our campers, who are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19, a priority.”

Easter Seals’ new Camp@Home Program will give campers the same sense of community they have at overnight camp.

Virtual camp will take place throughout July with eight weekly sessions available to various groups from ages six to 49 years. With a set schedule, campers will log in alongside their peers and a trained counsellor for engaging programming and social connection each day, that include many of the beloved traditions of camp, such as campfire sing-a-longs and their famous Talent Show and Kangaroo Kourt.

A week before camp starts, campers will also receive a Camper Kit in the mail filled with all the supplies they’ll need to do their weekly activities. Each week’s activities will follow a different theme and will include various materials for arts and crafts projects, t-shirt colouring, games and activities, all from sponsors like Indigo, Cabela’s and BC Egg.

“We are excited to bring our 50 years of Easter Seals Summer Camp to the online learning world,” adds Beck. “For our campers, it’s their favourite week of the year and we wanted to make sure they still have an Easter Seals camp experience even if it’s different than we all had hoped for. Though we wish we could see all our amazing campers in person, we hope virtual camp will be the next best thing.”

Camp registration is $75 per week, with the remainder of the cost subsidized by donors and sponsors. Register for camp at www.eastersealsbcy.ca/virtual-summer-camp

Cowichan woman doing very own Cycle of Life Tour

While the Cycle of Life Tour fundraiser for hospice has been cancelled due to COVID-19, cyclist Mary Hof is still taking to Cowichan’s roadways to raise money for the cause next month.

“But how can we cancel hospice, so many people count on the funds going to hospice and so many in our community of Cowichan are waiting anxiously for our hospice building to be completed,” Hof said. “Last year I rode 200 km in support of hospice.”

At that time, her father was coming towards the end of his life, and it inspired her to joing the ride. Her father didn’t want to die in hospital, and was fortunate to be able to stay home until his death. But many are not so lucky.

“Knowing there was a hospice bed if needed, gives you a sense of peace,” Hof said.

“Hospice supports the family in so many ways. My dad was very happy I was riding last year, and this year I will ride in his memory. July 18 and 19, I am going to ride in my own way for Hospice. I will ride 200 km around the Cowichan Valley, keeping to my own community. Please if you can support me in this ride, click the link below, tax receipts will be given. I totally understand if you can’t, so many are out of work, or helping support those affected by COVID. I will ride hard, and am trying to raise money and awareness about how important this facility is.”

To donate go to: http://vh.convio.net/goto/MaryH.

You can also email mhof126@gmail.com, or call 250-743-4074 and discuss an alternate way to donate.

“I will ride with all my supporters in mind and together we can soon see a hospice facility finished here in the Cowichan Valley. I was born and raised here and love giving back to the community which has been so good to me. Thank you, and keep well.”

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Easter Seals Camp will be going virtual this year with plenty of fun activities. (submitted)

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