General News

A YANA Birth Story – Comox Valley

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Originally published by Comox Valley Record – April 26, 2019

YANA legacy expands with creation of Denman Hornby Connector

YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a community organization offering help to Comox Valley families who need to travel for medical services for their children. Our purpose is to improve access to healthcare by providing travel funding and accommodation. Regardless of the location, the names or the circumstances, YANA is there. The overwhelming gratitude expressed by the families is always the same. The relief of stress over finances and accommodations allows parents and caregivers the time and energy needed to help their babies grow and thrive in those crucial early days.

This YANA birth story starts over three years ago with the inception of a brand new YANA support program.

Early 2016 – Marcie Dumais, then executive director of YANA, begins discussing the unique situation for pregnant Denman/Hornby moms with Lori Nawrot, executive director of the Hornby and Denman Community Health Care Society. Due to the remote aspect of the islands and challenges related to accessibility, local doctors and midwives make a decision that requires pregnant moms to be off the islands and close to the hospital two-to-three weeks prior to their due date. Lori wonders if there is a role that YANA can play to mitigate the financial burden of these families. Marcie takes the situation back to the YANA board and they develop a plan.

June 1, 2016 – Several ideas and discussions take place and the “Denman Hornby Connector” becomes a reality as a pilot program.

July 6, 2017 – The YANA board approves the program as an ongoing service to Denman and Hornby residents.

February 26, 2018 – YANA receives confirmation that the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island (CHFVI) will provide a grant to support the Denman Hornby Connector. Current YANA executive director Kelly Barnie talks about the program and the impact of the grant.

“The program helps cover accommodation expenses for island families during their time away from home due to the birth of a child, pregnancy complications or a child’s admission to hospital. We’re so grateful for the generous support from the CHFVI. The remote healthcare reality and extra costs can leave expectant mothers and sick children very vulnerable without this kind of support. This program significantly reduces stress for families.”

Summer 2017 – Beth leaves her family in Hamilton, Ontario, to work for a couple of months at the Co-op on Hornby Island. She has no idea her life is about to change dramatically. She, like most people who visit Hornby, falls in love with it. She also falls in love with Zack and decides to stay for good, beginning a beautiful island life together.

Summer 2018 – Beth and Zack decide to start a family. They excitedly share the news with their families that they’ll be welcoming a baby next spring.

Winter 2019 – Learning of the program from a friend who used YANA’s Denman Hornby Connector, Beth begins her application and starts researching Comox Valley accommodations. They’re looking for a place where their fur baby Murphy can join them, so Beth works hard to narrow the search and finds a great place in Courtenay.

March 6, 2019 – Beth is relieved that so far everything has gone smoothly and she’s not anticipating any complications for her delivery. Beth contacts Kelly at YANA about her upcoming stay. She sends in her completed application along with the required documentation the same day. Everything is in perfect order and the maximum grant of $1,000 to assist with the cost of the accommodation is approved immediately.

March 18, 2019 – Beth and Zack are two weeks away from their relocation date, so YANA provides their funding via e-transfer.

March 31, 2019 – Beth and Zack leave Hornby Island and move into the Airbnb in Courtenay.

April 13, 2019 – Beth’s due date is today. The day comes and goes with no sign of baby.

April 15, 2019 – Kelly checks in and learns that Beth’s labour has begun.

April 16, 2019 – “Baby Girl Bruszkowski” is born at 3:19 p.m. via c-section. She’s seven pounds, 11 ounces and mom and baby are doing great. At the time of article submission, yet-to-be-named baby girl, and proud new parents Zack and Beth are excited to return home to their island paradise.

“YANA’s help was wonderful,” said Beth. “It would have been very difficult to afford to stay close to the hospital without their assistance. Thank you YANA!”

Click here for more information about the Denman Hornby Connector.

A YANA Birth Story – Nanaimo

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Originally published by Comox Valley Record – April 19, 2019

YANA a blessing for Michaela, Harley, and Baby Violet

Every YANA birth story is unique, with one common thread – the support never changes. The community is behind every birth, and any out-of-town follow up appointments or treatments required.

YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a community organization offering help to Comox Valley families who need to travel for medical services for their children. Our purpose is to improve access to healthcare by providing travel funding and accommodation. Regardless of the location, the names or the circumstances, YANA is there. The overwhelming gratitude expressed by the families is always the same. The relief of stress over finances and accommodations allows parents and caregivers the time and energy needed to help their babies grow and thrive in those crucial early days.

This YANA birth story starts, as many of them do, with a pregnant mom being transferred to a hospital outside of our community that is better equipped to handle complications.

November 18, 2018 – Michaela is in labour, six weeks before baby is due. Nurses here tell her she will need to be transferred to Nanaimo Regional Hospital, the closest hospital with a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Michaela is handed an envelope from YANA containing emergency funds and a letter inviting her to contact them for further assistance.

November 19, 2018 – Weighing 5 lb 4 oz , Violet Tammy Robillard is born by caesarean at 12:30 am.

November 21, 2018 – YANA is contacted by a hospital social worker and first contact is made by mom Michaela. YANA arranges initial travel funding from Nov. 18 to Dec. 3 and learns that Violet’s mom and her dad Harley are staying bedside at the hospital. Discussion is started about accommodations for them if Violet has to stay in hospital. Since Michaela and Harley are in Nanaimo without a vehicle, YANA’s executive director, Kelly Barnie, begins investigating Airbnb options that are walking distance to the hospital.

Michaela emails Kelly and says “I received the e-transfer and want to thank you all so much from the bottom of our hearts. With my spouse missing so much work we have been very concerned on how we are going to get by and this lifts a huge weight off our shoulders. I’m overwhelmed with joy. Thank you so much again.”

Kelly responds, “We are so happy to help. This is exactly what makes YANA so amazing – it’s all about people getting behind one another without fail when they need it most. I’m so grateful every day that I have the honour of being the steward of the unbelievable generosity in this community.”

November 22, 2018 – Michaela receives information from Kelly about the private “YANA Connects” Facebook group for YANA families. Noting how tough it is not to have family nearby at this time, Michaela immediately sends her request to join the online support network and is welcomed to the group the same day.

November 28, 2018 – Michaela and Harley move into the Airbnb while Violet stays in hospital until she is able to feed on her own without the use of the NG (Nasogastric) tube. They hope it will be only a week or two, but Kelly assures them YANA will extend the booking and funding until whenever Violet is able to come home. Michaela is very emotional about leaving Violet at the hospital but is extremely grateful to be nearby at the accommodations YANA provided. They are also very happy to have a place with a kitchen after nearly two weeks of mainly hospital food!

November 30, 2018 – Violet is making great strides, but still needs the NG tube. Doctors say she will need to stay a while longer. Michaela contacts Kelly with the update so Kelly provides additional travel funding, extends the accommodations and wishes them a snuggly weekend of awake, alert, tummy filling feedings.

December 7, 2018 – Michaela and Harley are ecstatic to report that they are now back home with Violet. They share their heartfelt appreciation. “We cannot thank you guys enough for everything, we are so incredibly grateful. I don’t know how we would have gotten through this without YANA!”

For more information on the YANA Connects peer support group for current and past families, visit https://www.yanacomoxvalley.com/get-support/yana-connects/

***

Another way to help YANA, and perhaps win big, is to purchase a Valley Vonka chocolate bar (or two) at participating dealers, while quantities last.

Contained within the packaging of five Valley Vonka chocolate bars are the coveted “golden tickets,” to be redeemed for some incredible prizes.

Valley Vonka chocolate bars are available at:

Courtney & Anglin Real Estate Group

The Old House Hotel & Spa

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa

Bomback & Co

Mackenzie Gartside & Assoc.

Courtenay Return-It Depot

Pilon Tool Rentals

Living Room Pharmacy

Canadian Tire #350

Margot R Rutherford Notary

The Park (Formerly Longlands Golf Course)

Brian McLean Chevrolet Buick

and of course the YANA office!

A YANA Birth Story – Victoria

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Originally published by Comox Valley Record – April 13, 2019

YANA there every step of the way for Ashley and Remy

Although each YANA birth story is different, they are all the same in that the support never changes. The community is behind every birth, and any out-of-town follow up appointments or treatments required.

YANA (You Are Not Alone) is a community organization offering help to Comox Valley families who need to travel for medical services for their children. Our purpose is to improve access to healthcare by providing travel funding and accommodation. Regardless of the location, the names or the circumstances, YANA is there. The overwhelming gratitude expressed by the families is always the same. The relief of stress over finances and accommodations allows parents and caregivers the time and energy needed to help their babies grow and thrive in those crucial early days.

Here is Ashley’s story:

May 5, 2018 – After her doctor urges her to call YANA, Ashley makes her first call to advise of her high-risk pregnancy. Her baby is due June 10 and the ultrasound indicated a cleft palate, so she will need to deliver in Victoria. YANA immediately arranges for travel funding starting on May 27 and books two-to-three weeks of accommodation at Jeneece Place.

“Jeneece Place is always our first choice for accommodation in Victoria,” YANA executive director Kelly Barnie explains. “It is an amazing facility, funded by Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island. It’s a home away from home right on the grounds of Victoria General Hospital and is run by the most incredible team.”

May 30, 2018 – At 8 pounds even, Baby Remy is born at Victoria General!

June 8, 2018 – Remy is back at home after a whirlwind first week of life. Ashley connects with YANA to arrange a return trip to Victoria for the cleft palate clinic July 17. YANA provides travel funds for the required three-day trip and covers costs at Jeneece Place once again.

August 2, 2018 – Ashley contacts YANA to make arrangements Remy’s lip repair surgery trip September 24–27. Again, medical verification is received, funding is provided and the Jeneece Place reservation is made.

Oct 9, 2018 and Feb 12, 2019 – Travelling each time with Remy’s three-year-old big sister Olivia, and either their dad Takeshi or grandma Sandra, YANA provides Ashley and her family with travel funding and accommodations for two follow-up trips.

March 24 and April 9, 2019 – Remy has his pre-op appointment, major cleft palate surgery and post-op follow up visit. The surgery is a success and Remy is recovering well. YANA provides funding and the Jeneece Place staff welcome this much-loved family back with open arms.

YANA is there for Comox Valley families any time a child or a pregnant mother needs to travel for medical reasons. There are no questions asked. Only appointment verification is needed. Since his birth almost a year ago, Ashley and Remy have travelled to Victoria for his care seven times, spending 20 days away from home. They are hopeful that this most recent trip will be his last for a while, but know that YANA will support Remy whenever needed throughout his childhood.

Ashley cannot stress enough how important it is to have a place to ‘fall’ that will be able to catch and comfort you.

“That’s what YANA has been for us,” she explains. “From the beginning, I knew I didn’t have anything to worry about except Remy and his recovery from his surgeries. The care that YANA provided was seamless. Kelly was always compassionate and caring. The communications were always clear. I feel nothing but love and gratitude for YANA.”

For more information or to donate, visit yanacomoxvalley.com.

***

Another way to help YANA, and perhaps win big, is to purchase a Valley Vonka chocolate bar (or two) at participating dealers, while quantities last.

Contained within the packaging of five Valley Vonka chocolate bars are the coveted “golden tickets,” to be redeemed for some incredible prizes.

Valley Vonka chocolate bars are available at:

Courtney & Anglin Real Estate Group

The Old House Hotel & Spa

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa

Bomback & Co

Mackenzie Gartside & Assoc.

Courtenay Return-It Depot

Pilon Tool Rentals

Living Room Pharmacy

Canadian Tire #350

Margot R Rutherford Notary

The Park (Formerly Longlands Golf Course)

Brian McLean Chevrolet Buick

and of course the YANA office!

A YANA Birth Story – Vancouver

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Originally published by Comox Valley Record – April 14, 2019

YANA offers Comox Valley family support in birth of twins

Every family’s birth story is different. When a Comox Valley family’s experience includes care in another city, YANA is there every step of the way.

August 21, 2018 – Sarah, Kyle and their 17 month old son Harvey are sound asleep in their Comox Valley home. Sarah is 27 weeks pregnant with twins. Sarah’s water breaks months earlier than expected. Their 2:00 a.m. trip to the Comox Valley hospital turns into an emergency airlift transport to the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. On their way to the helicopter, they are handed an envelope containing emergency cash and a letter from YANA.

YANA Executive Director Kelly Barnie receives the first phone call from Kyle. He explains the situation and says that the doctors are trying to hold the babies off from coming for as long as possible, but they could come any time. YANA support is confirmed. “We’ll send you an e-transfer today and we’ll work on finding accommodations for whenever you’re ready,” Barnie assures. The relief in Kyle’s voice is palpable.

August 24th, 2018 – Each weighing 2lbs 1 oz, twins Isla and Clark are born! Mom Sarah is stable with Kyle by her side. Big brother Harvey is at his grandparents’ in Courtenay. Babies are being monitored in the NICU.

September 4, 2018 – Kyle has been staying bedside in the hospital. Though Sarah is now well enough to be discharged, Isla and Clark will need to stay in hospital for two to three months. Sarah and Kyle move into a BnB YANA has found and paid for where they can stay with their son and easily get to the hospital to be with the twins. Isla and Clark have their IVs removed and get 3 hours of skin to skin contact. Both babies are over 1kg and have their first bath!

September 23, 2018 – Babies are 4 weeks old. Isla is off the CPAP machine and Clark is gaining weight like crazy. Sarah holds both twins together for the first time. Kyle tells Kelly what an awesome big brother Harvey is becoming. “He can already say Isla and can sorta say Clark. We finally took our first family photo. Hello family of five!”

October 24, 2018 – The twins are 2 months old today! Clark is 5 lbs 6oz, Isla 4 lbs 13 oz. Both are learning to nurse and bottle feed and everyone is praying for continued weight gain, waking for successful feeding times, no heart rate dips, and peace for mom and dad who are not so patiently waiting to go home. “Feels like we are on the “final stretch” but this apparently is the longest stage. It’s so hard because it seems like the end of the tunnel is in sight,” Kyle laments.

November 8, 2018 – After almost 3 months away, Kyle sends Kelly an email titled “Moving out and coming home!”

For Kyle and Sarah, that first contact with YANA was the beginning of many months of assistance that assured them their community was behind them through this journey. From the emergency funds, to the Air BnB, to monthly financial assistance, and regular check-ins, YANA was with them all the way. “Having that help from YANA made all the difference. They dealt with all those stresses, letting us concentrate on getting the twins bigger and stronger so we could bring them home,” says Kyle.

For more information or to donate, visit yanacomoxvalley.com.

***

Another way to help YANA, and perhaps win big, is to purchase a Valley Vonka chocolate bar (or two) at participating dealers, while quantities last.

Contained within the packaging of five Valley Vonka chocolate bars are the coveted “golden tickets,” to be redeemed for some incredible prizes.

Valley Vonka chocolate bars are available at:

Courtney & Anglin Real Estate Group

The Old House Hotel & Spa

Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa

Bomback & Co

Mackenzie Gartside & Assoc.

Courtenay Return-It Depot

Pilon Tool Rentals

Living Room Pharmacy

Canadian Tire #350

Margot R Rutherford Notary

The Park (Formerly Longlands Golf Course)

Brian McLean Chevrolet Buick

and of course the YANA office!

A Smart Guy Who Knows His Pi!

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Jack Boan is a smart guy who knows his Pi!  He will be blowing people’s minds by reciting Pi on Pi Day (3.14) Thursday March 14th at Mark R Isfeld Secondary.  He has done it officially for a YANA fundraiser for three years now.  In his first year he recited 605 digits, second year he upped it to 808 digits, and last year he recited more than 1100 digits!  He has kicked off collecting his pledges and was hoping others would consider donating as well.

It’s easy, just go to https://www.yanacomoxvalley.com/donate/.  Mention ‘Pi Day’ or ‘Jack Boan’ in the notes section of your donation and YANA can attribute the donations to Jack’s fundraiser.  Jack says, “I am hoping to raise as much money as I can this year for Y.A.N.A.”  See Comox Valley Record’s article below to read his last year’s world ranking and more info:  https://www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/news/comox-valley-student-serves-up-more-than-1000-pieces-of-pi-for-charity-2/

Big Love 2019 – Astounding Generosity!

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The electricity, the magic, and the generosity surrounding this year’s Big Love Benefit was astounding. YANA supporters heard about the growing need for services and about the impact YANA assistance makes for local families. They came together with a resounding “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!”

Heaps of big love to everyone that had a hand in this record breaking year!

Meet YANA Big Love WestJet raffle winner Lana!

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What a magical winning moment!

Lana was in the house at the Florence Filberg Centre on Friday night at the 2019 Big Love Event when the winning name…HER name was called (note: winner did not need to be in attendance). And that was just the beginning, because this story is going to give you the feels!

In tears with the surprise of winning and all of the emotions of the night, Lana came to the edge of the stage to claim her prize. She asked to have the mic.

Nearly 400 event attendees and volunteers had just been introduced to an incredibly special YANA family through Karen McKinnon’s photo presentation. Touched by their story of challenge and resilience, Lana decided to pay it forward big BIG time. She announced that she wanted to donate the 2 Westjet tickets to little Kayden and Karris’s family! Lana multiplied this gift by adding in a stay at her family’s condo in Mexico. YANA board member Ashley joined the avalanche of generosity and offered to donate the additional 2 flights needed for the family of 4 to travel together if they could.

This story truly shows the profound feelings and actions of the night, and this community’s unbelievable support for YANA.

Congratulations Lana and thank you for creating a beautiful circle of giving!

And, of course, thank you to each and every volunteer who sold raffle tickets for us, and everyone who purchased a ticket!!

Photo credit:  Ali Roddam

Big Love WestJet Raffle Tickets on Sale Now

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Show your support for children and families in the Comox Valley by purchasing a YANA Big Love WestJet Raffle ticket!

Click HERE to request tickets and a YANA volunteer will contact you to fulfill your order. Winning ticket will be drawn at the Big Love Benefit Event. *Winner does not need to be present at the draw on Feb 22, 2019.

Online Auction Bidding Starts January 22

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From Jan 22 (9am) to February 8 (9pm), the whole community can participate in Big Love through the YANA Online Auction. The online auction includes 4 pairs of coveted tickets to the sold out Big Love Gala night! Now everyone can see our community’s generosity, find cool stuff and be part of the BIG LOVE needed to support local families. Get started with the quick registration so you’re ready to place your first bid on January 22nd. Thank you for supporting YANA Big Love!

Find the online auction here: https://charityauction.bid/YANABIGLOVEONLINE

YANA Big Love Benefit set for Feb. 22

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Originally published by Comox Valley Record  – January 15, 2019

YANA Big Love Benefit

Interested in attending the Big Love Benefit? Tickets go on sale Sunday, Jan. 20 at 10 a.m. and are sold online only through YANA Tickit Store. Tickets sell in a matter of minutes. Mark your calendars, set your alarms and join YANA for this upcoming event

On Friday, Feb. 22, a sold-out Florence Filberg Centre will be filled with guests ready to enjoy camaraderie, cuisine and lively bidding on hundreds of generously donated auction items. Among the highlights of this philanthropic evening will be a live auction led by the incomparable auctioneer, Dave Stevens and a delicious dinner provided by Tria Fine Catering. A moving photographic presentation showcasing a YANA family through the lens of photographer Karen McKinnon will round out the evening.

“So many emotions fill that room,” said community relations co-ordinator, Deanne McRae. “It’s a night like no other. It makes you beam with community pride at the level of kindness and caring that shows up.”

Since its inception in 1986, YANA has seen an ever-increasing need for the funding and accommodation assistance founder Sandra Williams envisioned. When she vowed that no Comox Valley family should ever be alone when dealing with the medical needs of their children and pregnant mothers, she likely never imagined how far-reaching YANA’s support for out of town travel would become.

“The increases YANA has seen in the past few years have been dramatic,” said executive director, Kelly Barnie. “We are now helping over 75 per cent more families than just five years ago.”

The Big Love Benefit is YANA’s largest annual fundraiser, netting well over $100,000 each year. The tickets typically sell out online in mere minutes, filling every seat in the house. With the physical capacity for the event unable to change, YANA has continued to search for ways to expand support for the event. The 2019 event will see an online auction component again, this year including the opportunity to bid on four pairs of the coveted Big Love event tickets. In addition, YANA’s board directors, volunteers and staff will be selling raffle tickets in the weeks leading up to the event for a roundtrip WestJet flight for two.

“We’re just so appreciative of the astounding support from our Big Love sponsors, donors and attendees at the event,” said Barnie. “The ability to reach the entire community through the online auction and WestJet raffle will help us to make sure our resources will keep pace with the need.”

YANA’s purpose is to improve access to healthcare by providing travel funding and accommodation for any Comox Valley family with a child or a pregnant mother needing medical care away from home. YANA maintains four furnished apartments near BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver and also provides accommodation in Victoria, Nanaimo, and in other treatment locations.

“When a family finds themselves needing our financial, logistical and emotional support, the value it provides them is priceless,” said McRae. “Many times a beautiful circle of giving is created. When a YANA family shares awareness of our services with others, they help make new connections with people who may want to volunteer, donate or fundraise in their honour. YANA is a real community.”

There are many ways to get involved in the YANA Big Love Benefit. You can donate an auction item, become a sponsor, purchase a WestJet raffle ticket or bid in the online auction from January 22nd to February 2nd. For more information on all these opportunities, visit www.yanacomoxvalley.com, email events@yanacomoxvalley.com or call 250-871-0343.