Image: Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News

Local Love in uncertain times

Kahir Lalji, Executive Director of United Way SIBC reflects on the year

In the face of uncertainty, our sector rallied together to support our community.

Ten months into the pandemic, I recently took some time to reflect on how, among others, thousands of non-profit agencies in the social and community service sector stepped up to tirelessly support the urgent and increased needs of the most vulnerable in our community.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the sector faced (and continues to face) the combined effects of increased demands for its services, and having to manage professional and personal lives in a world where the non-profit sector, perhaps has been traditionally under-resourced and under-recognized for their impactful supports and services.

Some research has indicated more than 75 per cent of non-profits in British Columbia experienced disruption of services to clients and communities due to the pandemic, and more than half the sector has witnessed an increased demand in services.

I have seen how our sector has helped kids and their families stay healthy and fed. I have seen how our sector has helped agencies keep their essential, non-medical programs safely operating. I have seen how our sector has supported older British Columbians who are lonely. I have seen the important role the sector played in curating and fostering vital connections – seeing local love in action.

Although there is still a lot of work to be done, I am especially heartened to witness our community working together to support each other.I have seen the coming together of so many supporters and am especially encouraged to see the provincial government’s commitment in supporting B.C.’s non-profit sector through the appointment of Niki Sharma as parliamentary secretary for community development and non-profits. The appointment of Sharma is a step towards creating healthy, inclusive and resilient communities – sustained by a well-supported social service sector.

If this year has taught us anything, it is how vital the frontline non-profits and charities are within the communities in which we live.

When we invest in the non-profit/social service sector, we invest in the health and wellbeing of our community.

Kahir Lalji is executive director of the United Way Southern Interior B.C.

Kelowna Capital News