This article is from the May 2017 Issue of Forever Young

 2017 may feature

Volunteer extraordinaire Randy Hunt at the West Kelowna Food Bank donated $1500 to help others thanks to the Simple Generosity campaign

By Glenna Turnbull

For the past 21 years, Randy Hunt has been volunteering at his local food bank in West Kelowna. From sorting cans to hamper deliveries, he’s been known to donate between 30 to 40 hours a week of his time helping out.

As such, he seemed an obvious candidate to be nominated for the Simple Generosity program currently underway, courtesy of Valley First.

What is Simple Generosity? As its name suggests, it’s a simple way for someone to become very generous. Let me explain:

The lead up to Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation has prompted some pretty creative ways to celebrate, including the Simple Generosity program at Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union. People are being asked to nominate volunteers they feel go far and beyond in helping to make their community better and each week throughout 2017, one extraordinary volunteer – someone like Randy – will receive $1500 they can donate to the non-profit cause of their choice.

For Randy, the question of where to donate his $1500 was simple: the Central Okanagan Food Bank.

“We wanted to do something special for Canada 150,” said Susan Byrom, Senior Manager of Community Investment for First West Credit Union.

“Canadians are what make Canada great and one of the things Canadians do well, as do our employees, is give back to our community through volunteer engagement.”

And so, through 2017 there will be $78,000 handed out via the Simple Generosity campaign to chosen volunteers across B.C., $22,500 of which is slated for local non-profits in communities serviced by Valley First. “The only thing we ask is that the charity that is the recipient of that $1500 is in a community being served by one of our divisions,” said Susan, “so it keeps it local and directs recognition to the volunteer as well as the organization that’s benefiting and strengthening our community.”

Gwen Rikkinen of Penticton and Don Penty of Kelowna are two other extraordinary volunteers who have so far been selected from over 170 nominees whose names have been put forward thus far. Gwen, who has volunteered for the past three years making soups, sandwiches and desserts, then dishing them up at the Penticton Soupateria, now has a new story to tell the clients about how volunteering her time has yielded an unexpected bonus of $1500 to the program.

As for Don, who volunteers his time and expertise making applesauce to feed the homeless, he donated his $1500 to Pathways Abilities Society.

In addition to the volunteer recognition program, there is a second side to the Simple Generosity program where communities can apply for one of three $50,000 grants. “We have $150,000 all together that we’ll be donating to three different regions,” noted Susan, with the mandate being that projects and programs applying for the grants will work to strengthen families and community bonds, - for example a playground or a creating a community garden at your local rec center.

Applications for the grant will be accepted up until May 25, and once approved, they will then be posted on Volinspire.com for the public to view.

Then it’s the public’s turn to have their say in voting for the top 10 projects. “All of our members and the general public can go online to vote,” said Susan, “then we’ll take the top 10 to our selection committee and announce the winners on June 29, just in advance of Canada Day.”

Between the two different sides of the SimpleGenerosity campaign, a total of $228,000 will be contributed into the social sector in 2017 in British Columbia. What a great way to celebrate Canada’s 150th!

To nominate your favourite extraordinary volunteer or team of volunteers or to find out more about the community grants, simply go online to valleyfirst.com/simplegenerosity and you’ll find the link ther