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Aug 21: Vancity Supports Awareness for Child...

Vancity Staff Fundraiser Supports Awareness and Action on Child Poverty

Vancouver, August 21, 2000 - It is a tragic fact that one in five children live in poverty in British Columbia. Vancity employees are joining together to help change that.

Over the next 16 months, Vancity's staff hope to raise up to $200,000 through the Vancity Staff Fundraiser for First Call, the B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition, which helps to support public education and action on the issue of child and family poverty. Vancity chose to focus on child poverty for its staff fundraiser through a democratic survey of the company's 1,500 employees.

"For more than 50 years, Vancity's commitment to make our community a better place has been the foundation of our success as a financial institution," said Vancity CEO Dave Mowat. "This commitment extends to the energy, enthusiasm and commitment Vancity staff devote each year to the Vancity Staff Fundraiser."

"I'm very proud that this year our employees have chosen to support First Call, an organization that is helping to raise awareness and encourage action on the difficult issue of child poverty in B.C. Let's not be afraid to talk about poverty, and let's not be afraid to do something about it."

First Call is a non-government, non-partisan coalition of 50 provincial organizations and hundreds of community groups concerned with the health and well-being of children. These groups include: the Children's and Women's Health Centre of B.C.; the Canadian Mental Health Association; the Canadian Red Cross Society; the Office of the Child, Youth and Family Advocate; and many others. First Call's goal is to increase public and government support for long-term solutions to end child poverty.

"The Vancity Staff Fundraiser will give First Call the tools and resources we need to raise awareness and motivate action in the campaign to end child and family poverty," said Michael Goldberg, chair of First Call's finance committee and director of research with the Social Planning and Research Council of B.C. (SPARC). "Vancity's decision to support First Call is a vivid example of how a corporation fulfills its mission and vision to be socially responsible."

Employees will raise funds through personal donations, sales, auctions, and special events. First Call will use the funds for public education, organization, and to encourage community participation in their campaign to help end child poverty.

First Call has identified four "Keys to Success" in ending child poverty and enhancing children's well-being:

A strong commitment to early childhood development. Research shows that children who benefit from early childhood education and care are more likely to reach their full potential - particularly those children who live in poverty.

Support for transitions from childhood, to youth, to adulthood. All children need support and mentorship in making the move from elementary to high school, and from high school to post-secondary education, or the world of work.

Increased economic equality. People who live and work in communities with greater economic equality perform better on virtually every indicator - be it health, productivity, academic performance, or crime rates.

Safe and caring communities. Children need to grow up in a safe environment where they have the support and caring of parents, teachers, and neighbours.

Since 1995, Vancity staff have raised $1.5 million for non-profit organizations in the community, including the Terry Fox Foundation, Sunnyhill Hospital, the United Way, and Vancity Place for Youth. Vancity is Canada's largest credit union, with $6.4 billion in assets, 262,000 members, and 39 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet. Both Vancity and Citizens Bank are guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility.