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More than $250K heading to North Okanagan charities

Community Foundation North Okanagan’s spring grants program is supporting 28 charities this year
Cera Yorke (left) of Canadian Mental Health Association and Vicki Proulx of North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society take in the Community Foundation’s 2023 grants reception on May 25. (Submitted photo)

More than $250,000 is making its way to dozens of North Okanagan charities, courtesy of Community Foundation North Okanagan (CFNO).

The CFNO hosted its annual spring grants event on May 25, in celebration of the many charities receiving a grant through the program.

There were 28 charities accepting a grant award, and each shared a bit about their organization and project — shedding light on the many issues being tackled and the innovation and dedication to solving problems for people in the North Okanagan.

Nikki Lorentz, food security initiative coordinator with the Okanagan Indian Band, shared about their food security project that will be growing fresh produce on 25 acres of land at the north end of Okanagan Lake. New gardens will be producing enough fresh produce to supply weekly food hampers for more than 500 band members free of charge.

“We envision an Indigenous-led food system that can feed the community and empowers young Indigenous farmers. This new location will allow us to build long-term capacity in future years and we will reduce our vulnerability and reliance on outside food sources,” Lorentz said. “This project links food security and sovereignty — it allows our people to develop healthy eating and cultural practices by returning to producing our own food. We will use ecologically sound and sustainable farming methods on band land.”

Another grant recipient, Jim Swingle, executive director of the Family Resource Centre Society for the North Okanagan, describes the purpose of their Art and Identity project: “Art and Identity offers an art therapy group to youth ages 14 to 17. Group members explore their identity (including values, beliefs, emotions, gender, sexual orientation, authenticity, and more) using art, in the context of a safe and supportive therapeutic environment. The group gives members a chance to make peer connections with other youths, explore any mental health challenges they are experiencing, and develop their ability to express themselves through art.”

The CFNO thanked the local charities for supporting the community through times good and bad.

The grant program is made possible thanks to 46 donors that have earmarked all or a portion of their charitable funds granting dollars to support the annual community grants program, year after year. This year, $123,000 was available from these funds, with an additional $130,000 donated by two families that are making a big contribution to quality of life in the North Okanagan.

Here are the 2023 grant recipients with a description of their projects:

• Archway Society for Domestic Peace - North Okanagan Women’s Outreach Support & Empowerment;

• Athletics for Kids - Sport4Life Grant Program;

• Ballet Jorgen Canada - Vernon & Area Dance Programming - February 2024;

• BC Small Wetlands Association - Pleasant Valley Wetland Heritage Park Boardwalk;

• Caetani Cultural Centre Society - The Caetani Cultural Centre Society 2024-2028 Strategic Plan Preparation;

• Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon & District Branch - Youth Suicide Grief Support Group;

• Community Recreational Initiatives Society - CRIS Adaptive School District 22 Programming;

• Family Resource Centre Society for the North Okanagan - Art and Identity;

• Fresh Outlook Foundation - Climate Action Ripple Effect (CARE) 2024;

• Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail - Km0 Phase 3 Interpretation;

• H.O.P.E. Outreach - ALLY Program;

• Independent Living Vernon - FASD Assessment Training for Family Physicians;

• John Rudy Health Resource Centre Association - Caregiver Funding Project;

• Kalamalka Secondary - SD22 Mountain Bike Project;

• Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society - Books For Babies, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library;

• Literacy Society of the North Okanagan - Books for Babies and Kindies;

• NexusBC Community Resource Centre - NexusBC Compassion Fund;

• Niteo Africa Society - Story As Community;

• North Okanagan Neurological Association - Year-round exterior colourful lighting;

• North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society - Family First Community Workshops;

• Okanagan College Foundation - Sunflower Childcare Centre Campaign;

• Okanagan Indian Band - Food Security: Growing and Harvesting Food on Indigenous Land;

• People Place Society - Front Entrance Security Gate/Fence;

• Schubert Centre Society - Meals on Wheels Program;

• Take a Hike Youth Mental Health Foundation - Take a Hike Vernon Pilot Program;

• TFL Technology for Living - Technology for Living home environmental controls;

• The British Columbia Lions Society for Children with Disabilities - Winfield Summer Camp for Persons with Diverse Abilities;

• Turning Points Collaborative Society - Turning Points Wellness Initiative.

To learn how CFNO works with donors to support charities in the area, reach out to Leanne Hammond, executive director, at 250-542-8655 or

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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