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Sep 3: Vancity award voting now underway

Voting Underway for $1-Million Community Project

Vancouver, September 3, 2003 - Voting is now underway for Vancity Credit Union members who will choose the 2003 recipient of The Vancity Award, an annual $1-million award that will go to a BC-based non-profit organization to support a bold and long-lasting community project.

Until October 15, members of all 40 Vancity branches in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Victoria will be encouraged to vote for one of the finalists at a Vancity branch, online at, by phone or by mail. Members will receive ballots in their monthly statements in September.

"This is an important decision that belongs to Vancity members. I urge every member to take advantage of this opportunity to make a personal contribution to a project that will have a significant and long-lasting impact in their communities," said Bruce Ralston, Chair of Vancity's Board of Directors.

The 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 The Burnside Gorge Community Centre provides vital services to an inner city neighbourhood as well as general programming to Greater Victoria. Key services include outreach support to homeless women and children, family support and reunification programs, outreach to youth at risk, a self-sufficiency program for families with limited incomes, and local environmental initiatives including the award-winning Cecelia Creek restoration. Burnside Gorge also provides traditional recreational programming, community education and accessible childcare to Greater Victoria.

Currently the Centre is inadequately housed in an old warehouse and two school portables, operating at beyond full capacity.The proposed new community centre will provide a higher level of service to both the neighbourhood and greater Victoria, reinforcing 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 provided female sex trade workers a place of safety and support for the past 16 years. 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.