New Chilliwack foundation focused on health

Chilliwack Hospital and Health Care Foundation offers both a "challenge and an opportunity," said spokesperson Donna Dixson at city hall.

The establishment of the Chilliwack Hospital and Health Care Foundation offers both a “challenge and an opportunity,” said Donna Dixson, director of community relations for the foundation.

She was in council chambers at city hall on Tuesday to talk about the official launch of the charitable foundation in Chilliwack coming up on May 17.

The foundation’s intent echoes the prevention espoused by Fraser Health, she said, which is to “keep people out of the hospital by working to help improve their health.”

Part of the challenge comes from sobering statistics about Chilliwack and Hope populations, which have the “lowest overall life expectancy” and the highest rates of hospitalization in the region due to smoking and other health issues, she said.

In getting established in the community, foundation officials have been connecting with a range of stakeholders.

“We don’t want to duplicate or make things more complicated,” Dixson said.

Existing initiatives in Chilliwack earned praise, and “Chilliwack is already leading the way” in some areas, she said, naming high participation rates in Bike to Work campaigns locally, and Move for Health Week, as well as efforts to open a Health Contact Centre. She mentioned Healthy Living Day at Sardis secondary and the Mini Med School.

The foundation will be “lean and mean” in its approach to administration, as well as “open and transparent and accountable to our donors.”

Engaging young people is going to be key.

“They need to feel ownership and they need to know their $10 donation matters to us as much as a $1000 donation.”

Their mandate is “huge,” Dixson noted, but they choose to view it as an opportunity.

“We look forward to working with you as community partners,” she said.