Thirty years ago, a little girl named Roberta became critically ill and had to be airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. A diagnosis of congenital heart failure with severe complications changed her family’s life in an instant.
Roberta’s mother, Sandra Williams, stayed in Vancouver with her young daughter for months at a time. Roberta’s father stayed behind in the Comox Valley working and managing a household with three other children, while travelling to Vancouver whenever he could. The financial and emotional costs, during this time, were devastating to the Williams family.
Drawing from their own experiences, and after meeting other families in the same position from all over the province, the Williams family made a promise to our community. They committed to the ideal that no family should be alone when faced with having to leave their community for the medical treatment of a child.
YANA (You Are Not Alone) was founded in 1986. This grass roots organization had its humble beginnings operating out of the Williams’ home and helping one family at a time. Sandra, her friends, and her family were determined to realize the vision of keeping families together during their most difficult times.
YANA now operates out of an office on Rosewall Crescent in Courtenay. We help children and pregnant mothers residing in School District 71 who need to travel outside our community for medical care. We provide accommodation and funding to help with expenses. To date, YANA has funded thousands of trips for medical care in Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo and other locations. Last year YANA helped 141 local children, providing over $84,000 in financial assistance and covering $89,000 of accommodation expenses. Our courageous clients and their brave parents face many challenges and, in some cases, incredible heartache. YANA’s goal is to ease some of the burden. Our core belief remains unchanged since our inception; when a child is ill the whole family needs care. The Comox Valley has shared this belief for 30 years.
Sandra Williams, founder of YANA, passed away in 2009. She left a legacy of giving, compassion, and caring that has become part of the Comox Valley culture. We are proud to continue her work and to offer local families the love and support of their community.
To donate click here.
~ Originally published April 6, 2017 in the Comox Valley Record
Twelve year old, Jack Boan likes Pi.
In numeric form Pi represents the ratio of the circumference of a circle to diameter. Pi is an irrational number that never ends. For math enthusiasts ‘Pi Day’ is celebrated each year on March 14 or 3.14, the first digits of Pi.
“Each year since first grade I have been trying to remember as many digits of Pi as possible,” explains Boan. “I challenge my classmates to do the same.”
Last year Boan memorized 605 digits and raised $561.00 for YANA (You Are Not Alone).Born 2 months premature himself and having spent weeks in hospital as an infant, Boan and his family have an appreciation for the support YANA offer families who need to leave the Comox Valley for the medical care of a child or pregnant mother. “We know families in the community that YANA has helped,” says Boan. “It means a lot to the Comox Valley, it’s a great cause.”
This year Boan’s grade seven class at Ecole Puntledge Park Elementary is joining in his fundraising. To pledge you can donate to YANA directly at yanacomoxvalley.com/donate/ (mention Pi Day in the notes) or through the YANA office.
What else happens on Pi Day? Boan’s class will be celebrating with pie, of course!
If you like music from the east coast, traditional celtic music, and sea shanties, you’ll enjoy the music of the new band ROCKCOD. The trio members Tom Walton, Bill MacPherson, and Phil Comparelli are the featured performers at the next 1st Tuesday Fundraiser on March 7th. The fundraising event is at the Mex Pub, and donation proceeds will go to support YANA.
Growing up in Nova Scotia, Tom Walton is very familiar with celtic rock as well as traditional Irish and Scottish music. He plays guitar, sings lead and harmony vocals, and also has an ear for arrangement helping to steer the group’s distinctive sound. Bill MacPherson is from a muscial family in PEI cutting his teeth on celtic music. He plays mandolin and guitar, also sings lead vocals and adds harmony. ROCKCOD came together last October with the addition of Phil Comparelli, a former member of the rock group 5440. Phil has considerable musical experience, and although he’s new to Celtic music he has embraced the challenge adding the lilt of the penny whistle. He also brings a third voice which allows the group to perform sea shanties such as Barrets Privateers and Rolling Down to Old Maui.
Tom Walton, Bill MacPherson, and Phil Comparelli are Rockcod, the featured performers at the next 1st Tuesday Fundraiser on March 7th.
YANA is a local charity that provides funding for Comox Valley families whose children may need access to medical care outside of the Comox Valley. Their programs provide access to emergency funding and accommodations. YANA maintains four fully furnished apartments within walking distance of BC Children’s Hospital and also assists with finding and funding accommodation in alternate treatment destinations such as Jeneece Place in Victoria and other locations. Their priority is to help reduce the stress of families and in addition to providing accommodation YANA provides a daily, weekly or monthly allotment of funds to help with costs of travel, food, parking and unexpected expenses.
YANA also provides St. Joseph’s Hospital with funds to make available to Comox Valley families who have a child or an expecting mother who requires emergency transfer to another hospital. YANA has supported over 1000 families since it started in 1986, and works to raise $250,000 a year to operate its programs. This is largely done with the support of community members and volunteers.
“Even though my kids are adults now, I still remember the challenges of being a single parent, trying to keep my family together, and wanting to be everywhere at once,” says Tom Walton. “Even without the additional hardship of having a child with a critical illness, that can be a steep climb. We want to support YANA so that families who have to bring their kids for medical treatments away from home, don’t have to worry about being anywhere else but with their child.”
The music starts at 7:30pm at the Mex Pub, and admission is by donation. The evening begins with event hosts Judy and Bruce Wing, with performance by ROCKCOD and door prizes to follow. For more information about YANA programs visit yanacomoxvalley.com.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the 2017 Big Love Benefit on February 24th! Together, we raised $91,000!
Our office at 102 – 2456 Rosewall Crescent is closed on Thursday, February 9th due to snowfall and road conditions. Messages will be checked and urgent matters handled remotely. We apologize for any inconvenience.
You Are Not Alone Comox Valley is looking forward to hosting the Big Love Benefit on Friday, Feb. 24.
Over 300 guests will fill the Florence Filberg for an evening filled with friends, fun, and the spirit of giving. A silent auction and a delicious dinner by Tria Fine Catering will be followed by a heartfelt photo presentation by McKinnon Photography featuring a YANA family. A raffle for WestJet tickets and an exciting live auction led by Dave Stevens will add to the fun along with some other surprises.
“There is a lot of excitement around this event,” says YANA board director Lauren Clark, who is in her second year on the planning committee. “We want it to feel as special for everyone who attends as it is for us.”
“It is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” adds YANA president Judy Cryer. “So naturally it is very important to our organization, but it is also a real celebration of the community that comes together throughout the year to support YANA families.”
YANA provides funding and accommodation to local children under 19 and pregnant mothers who need to travel outside the region for medical care. YANA maintains four furnished apartments near BC Children’s hospital in Vancouver and also provides accommodation in Victoria, Nanaimo, and other treatment locations. YANA’s funding and emergency programs assist families with some of the expenses of being away from home, such as food and travel.
This year You Are Not Alone marked its 30th year of service in the Comox Valley. YANA was founded by Sandra Williams after she experienced the sudden illness of her daughter and many months of subsequent medical treatment in Vancouver. Her vision of supporting local children and creating a home away from home for Comox Valley families in similar circumstances was realized in 1986 when YANA became a registered charity.
“Thirty years is really an amazing milestone!” says Clark. “It speaks volumes about who we are as a community.”
“I couldn’t be prouder to be continuing Sandra’s dream or prouder to live in the Comox Valley,” added Cryer.
To be part of the generosity that is required to host such an event, you can donate an item or service for the auction. Consider getting a group of colleagues, friends or teammates together to donate jointly. Or help cover event expenses by becoming a sponsor of the Big Love Benefit. Please call 250-871-0343 or email email@example.com for further details.
Interested in attending? Tickets go on sale Sunday, Jan. 22 at 10 a.m. and are sold online through YANA’s online ticket store. Tickets are $75 each. Last year tickets sold out in five minutes so mark your calendars and set your alarm clocks.
Be part of the big love surrounding Comox Valley children and their families by attending the 2017 Big Love Benefit on February 24th. Tickets to our annual dinner and auction will be available Sunday, January 22 at 10am and can only be purchased through YANA’s online ticket store. Tickets are $75 each. Guests are grouped into tables of 8. You can purchase up to 8 tickets and you will be seated together. YANA will organize seating for individuals or smaller groups. Tickets sell extremely fast. We hope you can join us! More information here.
YANA Christmas crackers are sold out at all locations. The sparkly grand prize donated by Mark the Gold Guy has yet to be claimed so keep your eyes peeled for a special red coupon when you are cracking these festive delights open. We look forward to hearing from the lucky winner. Thank you for supporting this heart-felt Comox Valley tradition!
From now until December 3rd, Driftwood Mall invites the public to a silent auction featuring over 25 uniquely themed Christmas trees with proceeds benefitting YANA Comox Valley.
For 16 years the Driftwood Mall has been supporting YANA with this annual event. Local businesses, families, and individuals sponsor trees which are displayed in the mall concourse for two weeks. Bidding ends on Saturday, Dec.3rd at 8:00pm. Auction winners take home a decorated tree, complete with gifts, and the proceeds help local families who need to travel for the medical care of a child under 19 or a pregnant mother.
“I’ve always wanted a white tree,” says Isadora Debortolli who purchased her dream tree last year at the auction. “I knew I had to win it, so the bidding was quite exciting!”
MacKenzie Gartside and Associates, who donated that white tree, have been participating for several years.
“We love YANA,” says Gartside. “Decorating the tree and picking out the gifts to go underneath is such a fun tradition for our office. Supporting YANA makes that tradition a special part of our year.”
The Comox Valley Airport tree, “The Gift of Flight”, is a travel themed tree featuring two tickets anywhere West Jet flies, two Pacific Coastal Airlines flights, and gifts from Central Mountain Air, Mid Island Gifts, On The Fly Café and Budget Car Rental, a very popular tree among bidders. Driftwood Mall businesses London Drugs and Quality Foods are also decorating trees this year along with new addition to the mall, Canadian Tire.
Among the annual favourites are trees by Kingfisher Resort and Spa featuring a spa retreat, Home Depot who the colour orange to create its seasonal tree, which this year features a deluxe summer package. You will find regular participants Boston Pizza and Bisque Restaurant, as well as many, many more.
Stop by with your family and check out this year’s trees. Kids will love seeing what is underneath each one.
“I will definitely be bidding again this year and am hoping to be able to donate a decorated tree to a family that may need one,” finishes Bertolli. “I’m really inspired by everyone who decorates and donates these trees, I just want to be a part of this generosity!”
Viewing and bidding starts Saturday, November 19th and goes until Saturday, December 3rd at 8pm. Winners take home their amazing trees on Sunday, December 4th.
Driftwood Mall, 2751 Cliffe Avenue
YANA Comox Valley’s annual Christmas cracker fundraising sale will start Thursday, November 17.
Earlier in October volunteers began making the 5,000 crackers needed for YANA’s (You Are Not Alone) annual Christmas cracker sale which has become a popular Comox Valley tradition.
“It was great being able to work out of our new space this year,” says YANA Board Director and Campaign Coordinator, Lesley Hunter. “We’re so grateful for the regular volunteers that come every year and we are happy to meet new ones, it’s such a fun group to work with.”
These hand crafted beauties will go on sale at various locations in November. Each one is filled with neat holiday prizes, 50 crackers have special prizes, including one with a grand prize.
The grand prize is a diamond ring donated by Mark the Gold Guy from Comox Valley Pawnbrokers and appraised by Tim Haley from Simply Timeless at a value of $4,400.
Last year YANA was able to support 141 local families through their funding and accommodation program, assisting with over 300 medical trips for children or pregnant mothers who require medical care outside the Comox Valley.
Crackers go on sale Thursday, November 17 for $3 each and can be purchased at the following locations:
– Driftwood Mall Christmas Tree Display, Cliffe Ave., Courtenay (Nov 17-Dec 3) SOLD OUT
– BCAA, Cliffe Ave., Courtenay SOLD OUT
– First Insurance, 8th Street, Courtenay SOLD OUT
– Edible Island, 6th Street, Courtenay SOLD OUT
– F.D. Interiors, 5th Street, Courtenay SOLD OUT
– Blush Salon, 5th Street, Courtenay SOLD OUT
– MNP, 467 Cumberland Road, Courtenay SOLD OUT
– Coastal Community Credit Union (all branches) SOLD OUT
– Harbourview Dental, Comox Ave., Comox SOLD OUT
– Comox Recreation Centre, Noel Ave., Comox SOLD OUT
– 40 Knots Winery, Anderton Rd., Comox SOLD OUT
– Vancouver Island Visitors Centre, Comox Valley Pkwy SOLD OUT
– Seeds Market, Dunsmuir at 3rd Street, Cumberland SOLD OUT
– First Credit Union, Dunsmuir Rd., Cumberland SOLD OUT
– Charles Dickens Christmas Craft Faire at the Florence Filberg Centre Nov 11-13
– Christmas at the Filberg Heritage Lodge & Park Craft Fair Nov 26-27
~ Comox Valley Record