Nanaimo charities benefit from credit union grant

NANAIMO – Mentorship program and summer camp awarded money from Island-wide program.

A new Nanaimo John Howard Society mentorship program and Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization summer camp received part of $352,000 in grant money from Coast Capital Savings.

Coast Capital Savings doled out the money to 29 organizations on Vancouver Island in 2015, through its Young Leaders Community Council initiative – the organization and society received $10,000 and $24,600 respectively.

The John Howard Society helps facilitate restorative justice – where victims and offenders work together to repair harm done by a crime – and the $24,600 went towards training volunteer youth mentors and the associated startup costs of its restorative justice youth mentoring program.

“What we noticed is that kids weren’t completing their agreement because they didn’t really have very much support, sometimes there’s no support at home, sometimes there’s things going on at home … what we decided we wanted to do was to give every youth going through the program a mentor,” said Kim Fagerlund, society restorative justice program manager.

Development of a mentorship handbook, letters of permission for youth, training for mentors, recruitment of mentors, printing of brochures and flyers, were also areas where money was spent, said Fagerlund.

Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization assists children with neurological disabilities, such as autism, Down syndrome and Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and the money went toward arts and crafts, recreational activities, musical experiences and general day camp costs, said Barbara Robinson, kids’ organization fundraising coordinator.

Robinson said karate and a drumming circle were notable events at the 2015 camp, as well as an event with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

“We also met up at Westwood Lake with the DFO’s learn-to-fish program and so they went fishing and it was a great thrill to be there and they’d catch these tiny little fish, but it was just so exciting and just excited faces and every kid had a great time,” said Robinson.

Members of Coast Capital’s three regional youth councils are responsible for reviewing grant applications and deciding how to best allocate the credit union’s community investment funding, said a press release.

Deadline for the fall grant cycle is Aug. 25.

For more information, please go to www.coastcapitalsavings.com and click on the Helping Youth link in the About Us section.