Blogger highlights personal side of United Way effort

As Vancouver Island University’s loaned representative to this year’s United Way campaign, Adrienne Wanhill wants to raise awareness.

By Bruce Patterson

As Vancouver Island University’s loaned representative to this year’s United Way campaign, Adrienne Wanhill wants to raise awareness about the impact that programs have in the lives of people throughout the region.

She is using her writing skills to maintain a blog detailing the front-line work of organizations supported by United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island.

In a recent posting, she recounts a visit to the “Growin’ on Up” program held at John Barsby Community School.

Nanaimo Foodshare runs the program to teach young parents and their children basic cooking skills with an emphasis on preparing  balanced, nutritional meals for their families.

The idea for the blog – blogs.viu.ca/unitedway – came naturally to Wanhill.

“I wanted to use my skills to contribute to the campaign. I knew that some people felt that the campaign was just about being asked to give money.”

“With the blog, I get to meet the people who are benefitting from the United Way and write about personal experiences.”

After participating in one of the weekly Growin’ on Up sessions, Wanhill blogged about the work of facilitator Anna Dodds.

“Together we wash, peel, chop and prepare our meal. While we work, Anna educates,” Wanhill wrote.  “She shows us how to best chop the vegetables for roasting (small chunks or long sticks), she talks about preserving the nutrients by leaving skins on, cooking temperatures and times, growing our own vegetables, and making smart choices in the grocery store. Stick to the outside of the store where the fresh produce, dairy and meats are kept, avoiding as much as possible the interior isles of tempting, packaged foods.”

Over the next six weeks, Wanhill plans to report on others who directly benefit from United Way contributions.

“I think it’s a bit more effective way to reach people – to educate readers in a more subtle way.”

In 2010, VIU employees in Nanaimo, Cowichan, Powell River and Parksville-Qualicum raised more than $20,000 for the United Way through payroll deduction and fundraising events.