General News

Made with love in the Comox Valley

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The Artisans at Potter’s Place celebrate Market Days, July 16th, by celebrating community.

Chances are that if you live in the Comox Valley you’ll have been to Downtown Courtenay’s Market Days where the downtown core transforms into a veritable street festival. Like other retailers, Potter’s Place is getting ready for this busy day by offering a sale.

But this one is different than most sales; that’s because the artisans at Potter’s Place hold this sale to raise money for YANA Comox Valley to support local families who need to travel for the medical care of a child or pregnant mother.Camera Downloads July 06, 2016 008

“We have about thirty potters who craft bowls specifically for this event,” says organizer Joe Stefiuk. “For a $20 donation you choose your favourite bowl and we fill it with rice and homemade chili, you have a great lunch, keep the bowl, and best of all you’re helping families right here in the valley.”

Collecting a bowl, each year, has become a tradition for many Market Day shoppers.

“It’s very special for our potters as well,” says co-organizer Dawn Zilke. “They start working on these bowls early in the year and some of them even collaborate and work together.”

Keltie Schalm stopped by with her twins for a preview. “We’re a YANA family and we love the spirit of community that this sale represents, made with love in the Comox Valley.”

Drop by the courtyard at Potter’s Place during Market Days on July 16 from 10am to 2pm, while supplies last!

180 5th Street at Cliffe in Courtenay.

Comox Valley Echo

Join us August 21 for the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride

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Registration is open for the Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride on August 21, 2016. Join us for a spectacular day of cycling and community spirit.  Click here to register, to pledge or for more information.

Boomer Jerritt Photography

Boomer Jerritt Photography

Croquet for YANA a multi-tasking fundraiser

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croquet

Looking for a fun family event while supporting local non-profit YANA (You Are Not Alone), and the Mark Isfeld and Highland grads? Then the fourth annual Croquet for YANA event at Isfeld Secondary School in Courtenay on Sunday, May 1 and at Highland Secondary May 8 is the perfect fit.

The event will include the popular annual Croquet for YANA, the opportunity to test drive a new Ford vehicle, and grad car washes and barbecues.

Christopher and Wendy Smith initiated Croquet for YANA, in support of the local non-profit group that helps families cover the cost of out-of-town accommodation and expenses while a child is receiving medical treatment outside of the Comox Valley.

The Smiths started hosting the event three years ago, the day after their wedding. Chris lost his wedding ring somewhere on the croquet pitch and still has not found it saying “… it must still be honeymooning.”

Although the Croquet for YANA event has been successful, the Smiths understand that business owners can be overwhelmed by requests to support charities. So they began to explore ways to add to the charity event but lessen the blow to the business community by combining a number of charities under one tent. This year the Smiths are partnering with the Mark Isfeld and Highland Secondary grad executives to help with their grad fundraising.

The Smiths believe the concept of Croquet for YANA/Drive One for the Community is all about giving local business exposure for their charity efforts. Each supporting business is given a plot of land on the croquet field to advertise themselves anyway they want, but they must also add a croquet ‘hole’ with a start and end, and at least five wickets. It is just like mini golf.

Tickets are sold, by donation, to players wanting to play the various creative holes. Players are encouraged to wear colourful costumes and decorate or dress their mallets. Croquet equipment is all provided by the Smiths and no experience is necessary.

The activity is suitable for all ages. Last year, croquet players ranged in age from five to 90 years.

“It is a win/win,” said Smith. “Local businesses get to interact with the community, and the community gets a fun event to enjoy, and most important YANA gets much-needed support.”

Apparently a number of businesses are going the extra mile this year staffing their creative croquet holes with greeters to add instruction and encouragement to players.

Both school principals, Mark Isfeld’s Jeff Taylor and Highland’s Dean Patterson, support the events as part of YANA week in the schools.

YANA spokesperson Hugh MacKinnon gave accolades to the Smiths for their community leadership and sponsorship of this event. He also encouraged participation and thanked in advance support for YANA.

“A small community working together can accomplish amazing things,” Chris Smith said.

“Let’s come together on consecutive Sundays at 11:30 a.m. — 3 p.m. and support YANA, recognize the businesses that support our community and make some memories.”

Tickets, by donation, will be available at 11 a.m. at the pre-registration table in the parking lots at both schools prior to the event.

For more information, contact Chris Smith at 250-339-1860, Isfeld Secondary at 334-2428, Highland Secondary at 250-339-5525 or the YANA office at 250-871-0343.

And, remember, in the Comox Valley, You Are Not Alone.

Comox Valley Record

YANA is Moving to Tin Town May 1st

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The YANA office will be moving to 102 – 2456 Rosewall Crescent in Tin Town as of May 1. It is an exciting and busy time as we prepare for moving day.  Fortunately we get by with a little help from our friends… in this case, a lot of help!

Grant Construction is renovating our new space to meet our needs and it is looking fantastic. This father and son team is showing YANA a lot of love while they volunteer together and share their talent. Painting-diva, Robbie Rusk, and her helpful side-kick, Kelly Rusk, are working their magic to ensure our walls are bright and freshly painted. Comox Moving and Storage will be moving our things free of charge. We are grateful for everyone’s efforts.

We will miss our downtown location and are forever grateful to Ives Burger Barristers and Solicitors who have provided us with a fantastic space for many years at a very low rate.

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We are looking forward to our new neighbourhood and the lovely people and businesses in Tin Town. All our other contact information remains the same and there will be no gap in service to families while we transition to our new space. Please update our address in your records and come for a visit!

New address: 102 – 2456 Rosewall Crescent, Courtenay BC, V9N 8R9

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Doctor brewing up unique YANA fundraiser

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Brad Harris and his wife Denise display a bottle of Royston Nano Brewery beer at Gladstone Brewing Company, the site of an upcoming fundraiser for YANA featuring Harris's beer. PHOTO BY ERIN HALUSCHAK

Brad Harris and his wife Dennyse display a bottle of Royston Nano Brewery beer at Gladstone Brewing Company, the site of an upcoming fundraiser for YANA featuring Harris’s beer. PHOTO BY ERIN HALUSCHAK

Brad Harris isn’t afraid of a challenge.

The full-time family physician by day and self-taught brewer by night (and owner of the Royston Nano Brewery) will soon brew the most beer he has ever brewed – 1,800 litres to be exact.

And as much as he likes to share with friends, family and fellow beer-drinkers, this beer is aimed not only at ‘hop heads,’ but to give back to those who helped his family during one of their biggest challenges.

Harris, who practises at the Comox Medial Clinic and St. Joseph’s General Hospital, began brewing his first batch of beer in January 2012.

In November of that same year, his daughter Linden became ill.

“You would think I would know; it happened literally overnight. At 9:30 when I got home she was coughing and had a fever … a day later she was helicoptered off-Island. I drove with my mom to Vancouver and showed up at Children’s Hospital at the ER, and they were moving her up to oncology.”

After a battery of tests, Linden, then three-and-a-half years old, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, one of only 35 children in the province to get diagnosed with leukemia every year.

Following two-and-a-half years of chemotherapy, Linden is now healthy with a 90 per cent chance the cancer will never return, explained Harris.

While in Vancouver, Harris and his family depended on support from the Comox Valley – particularly that of You Are Not Alone (YANA), which provides accommodations and funding for local families who need to travel outside of the area for treatment for a child under 19 years of age.

Now, with the help of his brewing skills and a partnership between the Royston Nano Brewery and Gladstone Brewing Company in Courtenay, Harris is giving back, challenging himself to make his largest quantity of “unapologetically in-your-face, pushed-to-the-limit IPA.”

The limited release began brewing at Gladstone this week, and will go on sale May 6, as part of the It’s Not Just Beer, It’s Love event for pint sales and growler fills, with all profits donated equally between YANA and BC Children’s Hospital Oncology services.

Harris hopes to raise around $10,000.

“The Harris family has a powerful story,” explained Ocean Varney, community relations co-ordinator for YANA. “It’s a moving experience to hear them speak about their journey, as a family, through Linden’s treatment. Their commitment to giving back to their community and passion for YANA is inspiring. It’s definitely an endeavour that’s powered by love, and on our end we are feeling the love, for sure.”

The beer will be using a third generation Gladstone yeast – a technique used regularly – which was used to create the brewery’s porter and IPA.

Harris’s love for all things beer developed a few years ago after a dinner with friends, who asked him outside of medicine, about his passion.

“I sat back and said: ‘let me think about this. What have I been consistently interested in? Beer.’ It’s a silly thing to have a passion in, but I’ve been interested in it since I was legally able to drink.

“I’ve spent time travelling around the world, and we’ve always made sure to take time out wherever we go to make sure and try the beer. I thought – ‘hey I can brew it.’”

Between working with his patients at the hospital and spending time with his wife and two children and brewing beer, Harris admitted with a laugh he doesn’t sleep much.

The It’s Not Just Beer, It’s Love event takes place May 6 at Gladstone Brewery, starting at 5 p.m. For more information visit roystonnanobrewery.com.

~ Erin Haluschak, Comox Valley Record 

Volunteers – the roots of strong communities

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Volunteer at Annual Simon's Cycles YANA Ride

Tammy, a volunteer at the annual Simon’s Cycles YANA Ride.

Mention the word ‘volunteer’ to anyone involved in a non-profit society and their response will likely include the word ‘backbone.’

April 10-16 is National Volunteer Week — a time to celebrate the 12.7 million Canadians who donate time to numerous causes. The website describes volunteers as ‘the roots of strong communities.’

At Volunteer Comox Valley, the vision is to be ‘an agent of change that promotes community engagement through the power of service.’

People volunteer time for various reasons, be it helping others or doing something fun in their spare time.

There is also an economic side to volunteerism. British Columbians, for instance, contribute an estimated 114 million volunteer hours each year.

“If you look at it Canada-wide, the number of hours contributed is about five per cent of the GDP,” said Tyler Voigt, executive director at Volunteer Comox Valley (VCV). “That’s a substantial number.”

Locally, there are numerous volunteer opportunities with organizations such as the Cumberland Community Schools Society, the Therapeutic Riding Society, Relay for Life, Scouts Canada, Girl Guides and the Community Justice Centre Society. These are all listed on the VCV website.

Vancouver Island MusicFest would not happen without its estimated 1,300 volunteers who tend to the gates, stages, food and other aspects of the annual gathering.

“Our volunteers are the heart and the backbone of MusicFest,” executive producer Doug Cox said. “The festival could not happen without them, nor would we want it to!”

You Are Not Alone (YANA) — another Comox Valley entity — has a pool of 200-plus volunteers to contact when the time comes to host an event, such as the YANA Ride. It also has about 15 volunteers, including a board of directors, who assist on a regular basis. Community relations co-ordinator Ocean Varney describes them as an eclectic variety of youths, retirees, parents, empty nesters and millennials who are generous, lively, fun, and full of heart.

“That YANA is able to fulfill our mandate, of offering accommodation and direct funds to Comox Valley families that need to travel outside our community for the medical care of a child or pregnant mother, is directly linked to the time and effort generously given by our volunteers,” Varney said. “From our board of directors who not only govern but are active volunteers, to our regular office assistants, to our event co-ordinators and event volunteers, they are the backbone of our organization as well as the heart.”

A Stats Canada survey indicates 10 per cent of volunteers contribute over 50 per cent of volunteer hours. Most are 65 years or older. The survey also determined that youth are more frequently involved but on a shorter time period.

“It comes back to having time available to do it,” said Voigt, noting social isolation can be a problem for the elderly. “I think that volunteering to get out of the house is the first thing, but then they realize there’s even more benefits than that.”

A new angle of Volunteer BC is to engage the baby boomer demographic.

“We need to find ways to engage them because they’re the ones that are going to have to take up the torch essentially,” Voigt said. “With this disparity in time contribution, there could be a bit of a problem there for non-profit organizations in the future if we don’t find ways to engage the baby boomer demographic.

“Because it’s an aging demographic, we’re going to have more people that are going to need hospice support, we’re going to need more long-term care facilities. We’re going to need a lot of things that engage volunteers as well. It’s kind of a Catch-22. It’s a bit tricky to provide more service when you don’t have enough volunteers to provide it…It’s funding as well. It’s a big question right now in the health care sector.”

Voigt takes pleasure when explaining to clients that volunteers can pick and choose and dictate time commitment — unlike job seekers who take what they can get.

“Do what you’re passionate about, do what you’re empathetic about, what you care about in the community.”

Volunteer Comox Valley serves 300 to 400 clients a year. Many are newcomers to the community, or new retirees. Charities, service organizations and individuals looking for volunteers can advertise with VCV.

This year, the organization received a $1,550 grant from the Comox Valley Community Foundation. The money will be used to purchase a digital projector to help train volunteer co-ordinators.

“It’s going to be very helpful,” Voigt said.

Volunteer Comox Valley is located at Unit C1 – 450 8th St. in Courtenay. Call (250) 334-8063, or visit their website at volunteercomoxvalley.ca

~ Scott Stanfield, Comox Valley Record

The Kids’ Clutter Is Back For Spring!

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Gear up for summer with all the great gear on sale at the YANA Kids’ Clutter Sale on Sunday, April 17th.

Join us at Courtenay Elementary, 1540 McPhee Avenue, from 10am until 2pm and shop until you drop. Clothing, shoes, books, toys, sports equipment, baby gear, and more, all at amazing prices!

This semi-annual sale is a ‘must’ for young families.

Kids Clutter April 2016

For more information click here.

Record amount raised at annual YANA auction

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Auctioneer Dave Stevens gets top dollar for a Steve Nash-autographed Los Angeles Lakers jersey at the YANA Big Love Benefit. - Photo courtesy McKinnon Photography

Auctioneer Dave Stevens gets top dollar for a Steve Nash-autographed Los Angeles Lakers jersey at the YANA Big Love Benefit. Photo courtesy of McKinnon Photography.

The Comox Valley residents showed a lot of love at the YANA Big Love Benefit, held at the Florence Filberg Centre.

The annual dinner and auction raised $87,000 for You are Not Alone, the community organization that helps Comox Valley families who need to travel to access medical treatment for their children.

It was the highest amount raised in the 26-year history of the event, and a 20 per cent increase over the $70,000 amount raised at the 2015 auction.

YANA community relations manager Ocean Varney said the generosity of the Comox Valley never ceases to amaze her.

“This was our first year calling it the Big Love Benefit and that’s fairly accurate. The people there were just full of love and generosity and fun,” she said. “It’s incredible, really. Every year seems amazing to me, but this was just unreal.”

“Corporate sponsorship was up this year, which is another big reason for that increased total. Because of sponsorship, all the expenses were covered and we could really give everything raised directly to the cause.”

It was not only the corporations coming through.

“The live auction was amazing,” said Varney. “We raised $30,000 in the live auction alone. That’s more than last year, with fewer items auctioned off.”

The silent auction items weaved a path throughout the facility, out the door and down the hallway, as more than 200 items were available.

The YANA crew will now turn its attention to the YANA (Spring) Kids’ Clutter Sale, Sunday, April 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Courtenay Elementary gym (1540 McPhee Ave.). There are many ways for the community to get involved in this event. More information here.

~Terry Farrell, Comox Valley Record

Big Love Benefit raises $87,000 for local children and their families

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The love shared at last Friday’s Big Love Benefit was big indeed and we are incredibly grateful for everyone’s contribution. Our hearts are so full. Thank you!

YANA Big Love Benefit Thank You

Tickets to YANA Big Love Benefit Sold Out Extremely Fast

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Tickets to the YANA Big Love Benefit sold out very quickly. If you would like to be added to a wait list, please email info@yanacomoxvalley.com and specify how many tickets you hope to purchase. We will contact you if tickets become available. If you purchased tickets that you don’t need, please let us know as soon as possible. Thank-you!