United Way of the Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen

For 65 years, the United Way of the Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen has served the region from Lake Country in the North, to Osoyoos and Princeton in the South. Our Community Impact mission captures the essence of what we do: We improve lives and build community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action. The United Way community fund is invested in three focus areas that support all that kids can be, move people from poverty to possibility and builds strong communities.

Our Impact Why We Exist

Community impact is about achieving meaningful, long-term improvements to the quality of life in communities, byaddressing not just the symptoms of problems but also getting at the root causes. It’s about making fundamental changes to community conditions.

United Way is bringing people together to make real change happen. We do this by:

  • Influencing public attitudes, systems and policies
  • Focusing on underlying causes of social issues
  • Strengthening the network of services and the capacity of non-profits and the community
  • Engaging and mobilizing the community’s financial resources, influence, time, knowledge and action

Our Story What We Do

We’re often asked “What exactly does United Way of Central and South Okanagan Similkameen do?” The simplest way to answer that question is… we help people.

We help families, babies, moms, dads, teenagers, youth, men, women, older adults. We help people from all walks of life. People who need housing, people who are hungry, people who are coping with health problems like arthritis and autism; People in situations of abuse; People with disabilities; People coping with depression, addictions, brain injuries or other mental health issues.

We help people who want to make their lives better. People who need hope.

We partner with over 100 local agencies up and down the Valley to help 1 in 3 people in our region. At United Way CSO, instead of focusing on just one issue, we focus on many. Helping our community as a whole. This way, with one donation, we are not only helping the need that everyone is aware of but also the needs that are maybe not obvious, but are no less important.

Help is available, whether it’s to provide support to teach a child who can’t hear, to talk, or provide food and shelter to a homeless family, or keep an elderly person in their home longer. As you can see these services are broad in nature but each equally important in our community. These services are available because of people like you – people that generously donate to United Way because they know their money helps our whole community.

The great thing about United Way is that the money that is raised here, stays here, in our community. We call it the Community Fund.

Just like the fact that many different people support the United Way, all kinds of people make the decisions for community fund investments. More than 40 people volunteer their time to review and evaluate these not for profits in the areas of quality programming, governance, finance and administration. Hundreds of volunteers also help with things like strategic planning, fundraising events, office admin and other projects.

Because of the commitment of these small armies of volunteers, United Way is able to be efficient and keep costs low, so that more people can be helped.

That’s not all that we do. United Way also issues grants, provides emergency support and advocacy to programs in need. Our Day of Caring® programs match volunteers and organizations to agency partners to volunteer time to take on projects that these agencies simply do not have the funds to do or the man power to take on. We also administer Success By 6, early Childhood intervention programming; and Better At Home, seniors supportive services.

At United Way, we believe that change starts here; with you. Together, we are improving lives and building community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action. Together, we are bringing lasting, positive change and building a stronger community for all. By taking part in the United Way’s annual campaign you are helping us support the social fabric that ties our community together.

Our Programs How We Do It

In addition to investing dollars in communities, our strategy for creating change also includes programs and initiatives that bring partners together and leverage resources. These include: Days of Caring: teams of volunteers from local workplaces mobilize themselves to make visible improvements at local charities. Emergency Transportation Assistance Program: United Way partners with municipalities and Regional Districts to offer free bus tickets to charities whose clients have urgent transportation needs and no safe alternatives. GenNext: young professionals supporting community in partnership with the United Way. GenNext members believe in growing personally, developing professionally and improving the community they live in. Youth Initiative Grants: a program that supports young people up to age 25 to develop and run projects to improve their communities. Youth Initiative Grants are proudly supported by United Way Gennext and Central Okanagan Foundation COFFY. Community Mobilizer: United Way acts as a clearinghouse to connect over 150 non-profit organizations to the resources they need to achieve impact. These resources include relationships with other funders, volunteers, specialized skill sets, recycled office and computer equipment, and promotional opportunities. Community Convener: United Way brings people together around common issues, and serves in leadership roles on local issue councils. Examples include local child and youth committees, collective impact funders tables and homelessness prevention councils. Provincial Initiatives The United Way movement also includes provincial initiatives to improve the lives of families and seniors. These initiatives are partnerships between United Way of the Lower Mainland, the provincial government, local United Ways and other funding partners. Better at Home: a program that mobilizes community volunteers and paid contractors to provide non-medical home supports for seniors. Success By 6: Success By 6 operates throughout our region and is a partnership of United Ways, Credit Unions of BC, the BC Government and Aboriginal and community leaders. Success By 6 ensures that children have what they need to be successful by the time they start school: socially, emotionally and physically.


Shelley Gilmore
Executive Director
250.860.2356 x102
Charitable Number: 103887441RR0001

Donate Now