United Way grants funding to Ponoka groups

  • Jun. 4, 2008 4:00 p.m.

The United Way of Central Alberta has renewed their funding, with a five per cent increase, for the Ponoka Youth Centre and Ponoka Big Brothers and Big Sisters. The youth centre received $14,715 and BBBS received $13,583.

Heather Gardiner chief executive officer of United Way of Central Alberta said that the increase was due to a modified review that they had conducted for the last two years. They did not accept any new applications for funds. Traditionally they would have had an open process for anyone to apply for funds. However, with a lot of challenges they had to make changes to how they granted their funds.

She thinks that the services that the PYC and BBBS are very important to Ponoka.

“They provide as what we see as a very valuable service for youth in the Ponoka area,” said Gardiner. “We know by some of the long-term studies if we can intervene and provide them with a role model they will prosper and the youth centre is one of the good ways we can work with the youth of today.”

The United Way of Central Alberta currently funds 35 agencies and dozens of different programs. The PYC receives core funding and some program funding.

The funding that the PYC received will be used for the After School Program and Schools Out Day program. Executive director for the centre Beth Reitz is very grateful for the increase they received this year, as the money was much needed in these programs

“The United Way Funding is critical to the Ponoka Youth Centre. It is money we depend on from year to year and without it we would not be able to offer all the programs that we do,” said Reitz.

Traceyann Braithwaite, the BBBS coordinator says that the funding is used for their in school mentoring program. It helps supply the program with extra toys, markers, books and other supplies needed. The in school mentoring program is where a volunteer comes into the school once a week for an hour to spend time with a child.

“We would struggle without this funding and would have to look at other avenues; it definitely helps to keep the program alive and up to date,” said Braithwaite. “Funding is very important to us because we are a non-profit organization we don’t sell things so we need other resources.”

Gardiner thinks that the in school mentoring program helps to address volunteers needs in today’s society.

“It is a brilliant way to address their needs along with what we are seeing as restricted volunteer time, everyone is so busy it is hard to get a few hours. With the in school mentoring program they have an hour to bond and learn together and that has been proving as affected in those kids lives as the traditional BBBS model.”

Gardiner thinks the services provided at the centre are a great asset to the community.

We think that they are providing an amazing services to a community that so deserves these programs and more,” said Gardiner. “The youth centre is open to any kid that wants to come in so that provides children a place to go with a healthy environment. They learn new things there and they are supported, they have that critical person in their life who says we believe in you and that is so important.”

In 2007 the United Way raised $1.792 million with over 800 volunteers helping raise funds.