Families build connections and community with United Way

Families build connections and community with United Way

Local initiatives take aim at social isolation

When it comes to building healthy communities, United Way of the Lower Mainland knows engaging local families is key.

Just ask Clayton Heights resident Jen Sutherland.

“I was introduced to United Way when they were seeking stewards for their Little Libraries. I have three young kids who love books and my youngest wanted to be in charge of one,” Sutherland says.

Little Libraries have popped up in communities around the Lower Mainland, and do so much more than add neighbourhood character. They promote literacy, foster connections between neighbours and even promote a sense of community safety and ownership.

All are key reasons the United Way supported the Clayton Heights initiative, and a pancake breakfast the community hosted to launch their Little Libraries – instead of a financial donation, people brought books. “We had thousands of books donated, and had a scavenger hunt to find all the Little Libraries,” Sutherland says.

Supporting these resident-initiative is just one way United Way of the Lower Mainland is marking its 90th anniversary by doing things a little differently.

The infinite potential of families helping families

Why engage in these community-focused projects?

With long commutes, increased density, saturated schedules and the pull of digital devices, social isolation is on the rise, especially in the suburbs. The impacts are more serious than feeling a little lonely. Studies show social isolation can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Through its grassroots Hi Neighbour initiative, United Way of the Lower Mainland works with communities where residents identify isolation as a concern, exploring what they like about their neighbourhood, changes they’d like to see and the challenges to achieving them, Kim Winchell, Director, Social Impact for United Way of the Lower Mainland.

Families – whether parents with small children or grandparents with empty nests – all have a role to play.

“It’s about creating opportunities for people to engage. It really just depends on what’s happening in a neighbourhood and what residents feel drives that social isolation,” Winchell says. “We’re not replacing the need for programs, but we know that programs alone can’t create a welcoming, inclusive community.”

Movie magic for the community

In Clayton Heights, the Little Libraries were just the start. Understanding the value of community ownership, the United Way is facilitating and supporting residents’ own ideas to connect with other families.

Building on a popular event in her own home – movie night – Sutherland suggested pop-up community movie events. With support from United Way’s Local Love Fund in her neighbourhood, she purchased a blow-up screen and hosted more than a dozen movie nights at local gardens or greenspaces – casual, drop-in-if-you-have-time opportunities for neighbours to meet, visit and relax under the summer stars.

“It was a lot of fun. It’s cool to see people come back and offer to help. People have to have that spark, but as soon as someone initiates, a light turns on. This is the fun thing about something like this, you wake people up about and the dots connect,” Sutherland says.

“I want to create childhood memories that stick, and having the neighbourhood now is one,” Sutherland says.

Building on its successes, Clayton Heights hosted its second United Way pancake breakfast on Family Day, and plans are underway for a block party later this year.

United Way’s Hi Neighbour initiative is active in eight neighbourhoods across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. To learn more, visit uwlm.ca/hineighbour today.

.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Families build connections and community with United Way

United Way has Hi Neighbour initiatives in eight neighbourhoods across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, including the Cedar Valley area of Mission. Mission residents organized a “repair cafe” in November, with another planned in March.

United Way has Hi Neighbour initiatives in eight neighbourhoods across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, including the Cedar Valley area of Mission. Mission residents organized a “repair cafe” in November, with another planned in March.

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Mackenzie Ashley-Lynn Gilfillan was last seen Jan. 10 in the 45000-block of Menholm Road. (RCMP photo)
RCMP asking for help to find missing Chilliwack woman

Mackenzie Ashley-Lynn Gilfillan was last seen Jan. 10 in the 45000-block of Menholm Road

Chilliwack Chiefs
Chilliwack Chiefs acquire forward Ben Woodhouse from Wellington Dukes

The BCHL club swapped future considerations to the Dukes for the 20-year-old forward

Chilliwack is still one of B.C.’s COVID hot-spots, according to the latest weekly numbers from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
Chilliwack records 140 COVID cases over seven-day period

Chilliwack’s case count per 100,000 people is among the highest in the province

An Abbotsford man was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Highway 3 on Monday, Jan. 18. (Black Press file photo)
Abbotsford man killed in Highway 3 crash near Hedley

Fatality was discovered by passing tow truck driver

Light boxes installed recently near Five Corners, seen here on Jan. 18, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Mystery of the large light boxes in downtown Chilliwack revealed

Some suggested ‘warming stations’ for the homeless; others guessed ‘public art’ installations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Most Read