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Aug 7: $1-Million Award Finalists

Vancity $1-Million Award Finalists Named

Vancouver, August 7, 2003 - Four non-profit organizations will vie for the third $1-million Vancity Award. The finalists' proposed projects include a pre-and post-natal clinic for high-risk women in Surrey; an inner city community centre in Victoria; a gravel pit restoration project in Aldergrove; and a women's wellness centre in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

The Vancity Award is a cornerstone initiative of the Vancity Board of Directors. Each year, the Board is proud to invest $1 million in a bold and innovative community project sponsored by a BC non-profit organization that will benefit the social, environmental or economic well-being of the community. The funds may go towards development, capital, operational or endowment needs.

From September 2 to October 15, Vancity members will choose the recipient of The Vancity Award by voting for the project of their choice. Voting will take place by mail, over the Internet and in Vancity's 40 community branches. The award recipient will be announced this November.

This year's finalists are:

Atira Women's Resource Society
A community-based organization that supports women and their children impacted by violence, Atira Women's Resource Society provides education, advocacy and outreach through the operation of three transition houses in Surrey, a women's emergency shelter and permanent housing for women in the Downtown Eastside, and a number of related programs. Atira's proposal is to work with other community organizations to build a centre in Surrey to assist pregnant and early parenting women and girls who are at risk through their use of substances, struggles with mental illness, lack of safe housing, exposure to violence and/or reluctance to seek medical attention or support services.

Burnside Gorge Community Association
Burnside Gorge is a unique centre providing key services to a diverse community. Along with traditional recreational programming, community education and accessible childcare for Victoria, the centre also provides local services. These include outreach support to homeless women and children, family support and reunification programs, outreach to youth at risk, a low-income family self-sufficiency program, and local environmental initiatives including the award-winning Cecelia Creek restoration. Currently, the centre is inadequately housed in an old warehouse and two school portables, operating at beyond full capacity. Burnside Gorge proposes to build a new community centre that will provide a higher level of service to both the neighbourhood and greater Victoria, and reinforce the pride and ownership in this inner-city area.

Mennonite Central Committee-British Columbia
Mennonite Central Committee is a non-profit international relief and development society. Its BC office is involved in a range of community service projects. MCC's proposal, in partnership with Pacific Parklands Foundation, is for the transformation of a 16-hectare gravel pit into a family- friendly public park and nature reserve. The project includes a children's water park, a lake for canoeing and kayaking, teen recreation area and habitat restoration of marshland. A new trail system will link Camp Elkgrove with the new park, providing accessible trails and recreation areas to children with disabilities plus opportunities for nature viewing, walking and horseback riding. Another key social element of the project is training and employment for at-risk youth. Using a model for sustainability and investing $5 million over five years, this project will create a legacy by supporting the social, environmental and economic well-being of the Lower Mainland.

WISH Drop-in Centre Society
WISH, a drop-in centre in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside has, for the past 16 years, provided female sex trade workers a place of safety and support. The women, now up to 200 a night, receive core services including hot meals, showers, referrals to shelters, detox and rehabilitation centres, on-site nursing, a literacy program, a transition program, and peer support. All are offered in a non-judgmental, nurturing atmosphere designed to help the women gain the esteem they need to leave the street. Presently limited to 800 square feet and restricted to only four hours a night, six nights a week, WISH is proposing a 24-hour, 7-day a week " Wellness Centre." In addition to increased services, the new centre will offer not only a safe refuge from today's escalating violence, but a permanent women's health clinic.

Vancity is Canada’s largest credit union, with $9.3 billion in assets, 305,000 members, and 41 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria. Vancity was chosen as the best place to work in Canada for 2005 by Maclean’s Magazine as part of its annual Canada’s Top 100 Employers issue. 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, and to improve the quality of life in the communities where we live and work.