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North Okanagan charities receive $332,000 boost from Community Foundation Grants

48 charities accepted grant awards
Laurie Case of Turning Points Society, Lisa Deargle of Community Foundation North Okanagan, and Kody Woodmass of Turning Points Society enjoy the Community Foundation’s annual grants reception. CFNO Photo

Community Foundation North Okanagan (CFNO) was proud to host its annual spring grants event on June 4, celebrating the many charities receiving grants through the program. This year, CFNO awarded a total of $332,000 in grants to support various community initiatives.

Forty-eight charities accepted grant awards, and each shared a bit about their organization and project. At the event’s halfway mark, it became clear that many projects addressed a common theme – food security. It was heartwarming to see so many local organizations staying attuned to our community’s ever-changing needs and shifting their priorities to tackle the most important issues.

Julia Payson, Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association, described how North Okanagan communities are experiencing growing food insecurity as inflationary costs soar. “Having basic needs met, such as sufficient access to healthy food, is a major contributing factor to an individual's overall mental wellness.”

The first food security initiative CMHA will implement is a monthly class for adult participants that will explore strategies to improve healthy eating habits on a limited budget with activities including meal planning, budgeting, creating shopping lists, canning, and cooking.

The second initiative involves creating food boxes for youth connected to their Youth Integrated Services Hub, with an opportunity to cook healthy meals in the CMHA kitchen to gain skills and take meals home.

Another grant recipient, Donna Harms of the Vernon She Shed Society, spoke about their mission to support all people who wish to develop new or existing skills in woodworking and other creative endeavours. Starting with only eight members, they have grown to 180 members in just eight months. This organization inspires women (and all people) to build upon their skillsets, hobbies, and confidence to create.

This grant will support the purchase of more materials for their new member training sessions. Along with supplying materials for their community projects, such as, the 40 birdhouses made for the local girl guides.

The Starfish Society has been providing weekend backpacks for students for more than eight years, covering any food shortages over the weekend when access to school meal programs is unavailable. Mary Jackson, President of the Kalamalka Starfish Society, stated, “The need for these bags has doubled in the past two years, and in just four months, 50 volunteers sorted, packed, and delivered more than 4,300 backpacks.”

“As we see the need for the backpacks grow, we realize that these children and families will need this support throughout the summer months too. This grant will support our summer pilot program to supply 800 backpacks. We will also partner with the SD 22 Food Coordinator to host ‘Family Food Nights’ where we cook a meal together with a group of families.”

The Community Foundation would like to extend a big THANK YOU to the local charities for supporting the community through the good and bad times. They help to build community within local neighbourhoods and warm the hearts of the people who live here.

This year, the Smart & Caring Community Grants Program was able to boost its regular funding thanks to generous support from community-minded individuals and organizations.

This granting program is made possible thanks to these funding sources:

  • CFNO’s 46 donors who earmark all or a portion of their charitable funds’ granting dollars to support this Annual Smart & Caring Community Grants Program year after year.
  • A big thank you to Nixon Wenger LLP for donating $50,000 to this program to celebrate their 50th Anniversary!
  • The North Okanagan Prosperity Fund, a partnership funded by the Government of B.C. that advances poverty reduction and social inclusion.
  • A special thank you to the Finch Family and the Galbraith Family for their significant contributions, increasing the number of organizations we can help.


2024 Grant Recipients:

  • Archway Society for Domestic Peace - North Okanagan Women's Outreach & Empowerment
  • Athletics For Kids Financial Assistance (BC) Society - Sport4Life North Okanagan Program
  • Ballet Jorgen Canada - Vernon & Area Dance Programming- February 2025
  • Caetani Cultural Centre Society - Creative Reconciliation: Workshop Series
  • Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon & District Branch - Food Security Program
  • Cherryville Community Food & Resource Society - Cherryville Youth and Family Program
  • Community Dental Access Center - 2024/2025 Fiscal Program Funding
  • Community Recreational Initiatives Society - CRIS 2024 North Okanagan Programming
  • Enderby & District Community Resource Centre - Vehicle for Medical Transportation for Seniors
  • Family Resource Centre Society for the North Okanagan - Trauma-Informed Community Support
  • Fresh Outlook Foundation - 2025 Climate Action Ripple Effect (CARE)
  • Independent Living/John Rudy Health Resource Centre Association - Stronger Than You Think
  • inGIRLS Club Association - The Gift of Friendship - Celebrating and Connecting Girls with Disabilities in the North Okanagan
  • Interior Wildlife Rehabilitation Society - Threatened Wildlife Species Care
  • Junior Achievement of British Columbia - Boundless Possibilities for North Okanagan Youth
  • Kalamalka Starfish Society - North Okanagan Starfish Food Program
  • Kindale Developmental Association - Seaton Centre – Creating Spaces
  • Launch Financial Education Society - Dollars and Sense Financial Literacy training
  • Lumby Food Bank - Paws, Nourish and Nurture: Wellness Alliance to Preserve the Human-K9 Bond
  • Lumby Historical Society - My Life - An Oral History
  • Niteo Africa Society - Story As Community
  • Gallery Vertigo (North Okanagan Artist Alternative) - Capital Improvements
  • North Okanagan Friendship Centre Society - Vernon Safe House Grant Application
  • North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society - NOYFSS Family Room Updates
  • Okanagan Humane Society - Rescue and Pet Assistance Program: Spay / Neuter Programs
  • Okanagan Indian Band - Drumming, the heartbeat of nk̓maplqs iʔ snm̓am̓ay̓aʔtn iʔ k̓l sqilxʷtət”
  • Okanagan Learning Foundation - Food for Thought
  • Okanagan Quality Life Society - The Heaven Can Wait Pontoon Boat Operation
  • Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society - Community-led Wetland & Riparian Restoration and Stewardship
  • O'Keefe Ranch & Interior Heritage Society - The Canning Kitchen Upgrade Project
  • People Place Society - Security Upgrade/Enterphone
  • Runaway Moon Theatre Arts Society - Looking Backward, Looking Forward
  • Santa's Anonymous Society - Rent Increase Coverage
  • School District No22 - Voices of Vernon
  • Schubert Centre Society - Meals on Wheels Program
  • Special Olympics BC - Vernon - 2024 Sports Funding
  • Take a Hike Youth Mental Health Foundation - Take a Hike Vernon Program
  • The British Columbia Lions Society for Children with Disabilities - 2024 Winfield Summer Camp for Persons with Diverse Abilities
  • The Canadian Red Cross Society - 200 Accessibility Assist Bars
  • The Good Food Box Society of the North Okanagan - Good Food Box Sustainability and Succession Planning Project
  • Turning Points Collaborative Society - Turning Points Wellness Initiative
  • Upper Room Mission Society - Food Security Program
  • Vernon & District Association for Community Living - Diversabilities Behaviour Support Program
  • Vernon Community Music School - Family Jamboree Music Program
  • Vernon Public Art Gallery - School of Rawk
  • The Okanagan Science Centre - Exploring the World Through Sensory Science: Empowering Children's Learning
  • Vernon She Shed Society - Smart & Caring Communities Grant March 2024
  • Whitevalley Community Resource Centre - Children/youth "Growth and Support" Groups

To learn how CFNO works with donors to support charities in our area please reach out to Leanne Hammond, Executive Director of the Community Foundation North Okanagan, 250-542-8655 or

To learn more about the Smart & Caring Grants Program visit: