Every year in early December, TimberWest gets the opportunity to recognize important local community groups in the Lake Cowichan area thanks to the hard work of Jayne Ingram, co-owner of BRI Security, and retired town councilor.
Over the past several years, Ingram has coordinated the TimberWest U-Cut firewood lots in Lake Cowichan, and developed the giving back culture strongly associated with the permit sales, where 100 per cent of the funds collected are donated back into the community to worthy organizations during TimberWest’s annual Day of Giving in December.
So far the program has generated more than $45,000 with all proceeds directly supporting important local organizations.
“It’s amazing how the whole program, which benefits so many different community groups, has evolved over the years,” Ingram reminisces. “It had such a simple start too — with just a coffee and a muffin, and a conversation with TimberWest.”
Some of the community groups who have benefitted from the TimberWest program include the 1st Lake Cowichan Scouts, Cowichan Lake Food Bank, Lake Cowichan Fire Department annual Toy Drive, Cowichan Lake Community Services, Cowichan Lake Community Garden, Palsson Elementary School, Lake Cowichan’s Seniors Centre and the Lake Cowichan School.
Ingram is enthusiastic about all of the groups and the volunteers who run the organizations, and says the entire community consists of compassionate individuals who are only too willing to give their time for a worthy cause.
“We are a community rich with volunteers,” says Ingram.
Cowichan Lake Community Services executive director Carol Blatchford says the TimberWest firewood program has been a much-appreciated funding source for them over the years.
She explains the funding her organization receives is used for their many children and youth programs that includes what Blatchford refers to as one of her favourites, “the YLT program otherwise known as Youth Leaders in Training.”
Youths who work for the YLT program are responsible for younger children who register for the activities the YLT program provides. Those activities include trips to fun destinations such as the Escape Room in Nanaimo.
“Without donations from companies like TimberWest, we wouldn’t be able to provide those kind of organized activities that are so well attended and appreciated as the majority of kids who take part in our programs would not otherwise be able to afford the activities our programs offer.”
Another popular program Cowichan Lake Community Services offers is Girls Troop. Blatchford explains those registered with Girls Troop learn about self-esteem and life skills with a strong focus on cooking.
“With the donation money from TimberWest, we are able to buy supplies needed to run the program,” explains Blatchford. The food Girls Troop members prepare is then shared with their families as well as any community members who show up at Community Services in need of a meal.
Lake Cowichan School’s resources teacher Kevin Smith is responsible for the school’s Meals on Wheels program that involves students with developmental disabilities who are given the opportunity to learn food preparation skills and the importance of giving back to the community.
Smith explains the community firewood program provides enough funding each to make the program sustainable.
“We can run the program and not have issues with things like buying groceries and we can even spruce up some of the recipes.”
The program involves approximately a dozen students between Grades 4 to 12. Smith explains his Meals on Wheels group is broken into two groups who prep and package the meals so they can transport them once a week to those most in need.
“We take the meals to people in our community and some of the outlying communities. It’s an important service as there’s no ministry services for this sort of thing,” says Smith.
TimberWest’s Chief Forester and VP of Sustainability Domenico Iannidinardo says the company has been honoured to be in a position to support Island community groups and the important work that they do.
“The Lake Cowichan firewood permit program is a great example of how a small idea can lead to big results and have a growing impact on making the community a better place,” he explains. “Thank you Jayne for running such a successful program and to everyone who buys a firewood permit; your contribution makes an impact where you live.”
For more information on the TimberWest firewood permit program please visit https://www.timberwest.com/our-neighbours-and-communities/
To learn more about how to give to the local community groups, please visit their websites.
Cowichan Lake Community Services https://www.comserv.org/
Lake Cowichan School Meals on Wheels program: http://lcss.sd79.bc.ca/