A Winning Team: Hockey Players Inspire Students to Read

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Kings player, Jeff Smith, reading to Westview Elementary students.

Our local Powell River Junior A Kings Hockey Club is a winning team, and I’m not talking about the number of games they’ve won, or their game point average. I’m talking about the work they do in our community – teaching kids to skate, taking them trick-or-treating, volunteering on the ORCA bus, participating in the Christmas parade, building Christmas hampers, serving food at the Assumption Soup Kitchen, manning Salvation Army Christmas Kettles – and my favorite of all – participating in the Westview Agencies READ program.

Every Monday, from October to February, Powell River Kings players put down their sticks and pick up their books to read with children and promote the importance of reading. Over 1,500 students in eight local elementary schools participate in the annual READ program.

Students and teachers alike look forward to these weekly visits; the Kings have hero status with the kids and reading with them is considered a treat.  As Mary Payne, a grade 1 teacher recently said “I like the Kings because my kids eyes light up when they get to go and read with the Kings every Monday.” 

Nancy Howlin, Branch Manager of Westview Agencies, has been involved with the initiative since it started in 2006. “It’s been such a rewarding experience to be part of this program and to see kids embrace reading with the Kings players,” she explains, “I also love that the program gives the Kings players an opportunity to mentor children.”

Partnerships like these are what makes the work we do at Westview Agencies, First Insurance and First Credit Union so worthwhile. Thank you Kings for being such great partners and ambassadors in our community. You are truly a winning team!



The Volunteer Experience: Gratitude, Happiness, and Pride

Powell River staff getting ready to help with maintenance on the Sunshine Coast Trail.
Powell River staff getting ready to help with maintenance on the Sunshine Coast Trail.

It was not a decision that was made lightly; on Thursday October 8 First Credit Union & Insurance and Westview Agencies closed early. At 2pm, 140 staff turned off their office lights, loaded their vehicles with shovels, paint brushes, aprons, craft supplies, and scrub brushes, and headed into the community to work as volunteers.

What possessed us to potentially inconvenience our members and clients? Why did we decide to close early during an incredibly busy work week? We did it to make a statement – serving our communities is important to us. We did it because we believe in people helping people, and that volunteering is a powerful way to strengthen our communities.  We were hoping that our contribution would make a positive difference but we weren’t quite prepared for what we got in return.

For 3 hours our staff painted, filed, prepped food, cleared brush, scrubbed, planted trees, cleaned playgrounds, served seniors, weeded gardens, made crafts, and fund-raised for a local food bank. As we came together at the end of the day to share our stories, it was clear that although we’d volunteered for different organizations, we had all shared one very powerful experience – we were bursting with gratitude, happiness, and pride. Grateful to the non-profit organizations who work for our benefit every day; by volunteering we got to know more about them and we were in awe of what they accomplish. Happy to work alongside our coworkers towards a common goal; although we were working hard, we were having fun and the camaraderie was uplifting and energizing. Proud to work for our organization; closing early so that we could volunteer was a bold statement, but one that clearly articulates our values – how wonderful to work for an organization that ‘walks the walk’!

We started out wanting to make a positive impact – and we did. But what surprised us was that for that for all the positive energy and goodwill that we gave to our communities that afternoon, we received it all back … and more. Will we host another Community Impact Day? I hope so. Closing for a few hours so that we could volunteer in the community was a powerful experience – one that I would love to be part of again!

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Community Impact Day: Trading Dress Shoes for Gumboots

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Source: https://www.facebook.com/Powell-River-Therapeutic-Riding-Association-392922714058562/timeline/

I think that most people in Powell River know of someone who benefits from the unique therapy that the Powell River Therapeutic Riding Association provides to people with disabilities. I’ve heard about the love, dedication and vision of the people who run this organization, but a few months ago I had an opportunity to see it first-hand at their annual Ride-a-Thon fundraiser. I was there to cheer on some family friends; it was an incredible experience. With the assistance of volunteers, riders of all ages proudly rode their gentle horses through an obstacle course to demonstrate their hard-earned skills as families and friends cheered them on; it was truly their day to shine. The smiles on the faces of the riders, the volunteers and the supporters said it all – PR Therapeutic Riding makes a positive difference in the lives of many people.

The Therapeutic Riding Association relies heavily on volunteers. Over 75 people, ranging from teens to senior citizens, participate as side walkers and horse handlers, fundraising coordinators, special events volunteers, grounds work crew, and board positions.

Recently the society built new shelters in one of their enclosures and are planning to expand the paddock to make room for more horses. However, before they can do this, there is brush that needs to be cleared. We are excited to be able to help with this project as part of our Community Impact Day! On Thursday October 8 from 2 to 5pm, sixteen First Credit Union & Insurance and Westview Agencies staff members will be trading their dress shoes for gumboots and their computers for shovels to help clear the undergrowth and move it to a burn pile. Clearing this land will help the Therapeutic Riding Society to move to the next phase of their project which is to expand the paddock. Stay tuned for posts about other organizations that we will be volunteering for on Community Impact Day!

If you would like to support the Powell River Therapeutic Riding Association, check out their website or Facebook page to find out how you can volunteer or making a donation.

Get On Board the ORCA Bus!

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Tara Chernoff, Marketing and Community Impact Manager, presenting a cheque to Elise Statham, Success by 6 and ORCA Bus Coordinator

It’s a rainy day in Powell River, but that didn’t stop the ORCA (On the Road with Children’s Activities) Bus from making its rounds. This morning I caught up with them at their scheduled stop at Pacific Point Market to present Elise Statham, our local Success by 6 Coordinator, a cheque for over $1,500 (the concession proceeds from our 2015 Powell River Movie Night). While I was there, a van pulled up and two children tumbled out, laughing as they raced each other to be the first one on the bus.

What makes the ORCA Bus so special? Well first, this much-loved vehicle delivers fantastic early childhood programs to areas in our community that may not have access to them otherwise – from Saltery Bay to Lund, and everywhere in between. The bus delivers a Strong Start outreach program for SD#47, Family Place programming, Infant Development Programs, and many of other activities with various organizations and businesses in Powell River.

But even more than its great programming and unique way of reaching out to everyone in our community, I think what makes it so special is the collaborative spirit that makes the ORCA Bus possible. The bus receives  significant support from local volunteers, businesses and organizations – without the volunteer time, without the donations, and without the community partnerships, this bus would not be on the road. It is truly a gift to our community, from our community!

What can you do? Check out their schedule to find out when the ORCA Bus will be in your neighbourhood next. Ask Elise how you can get involved. Get on board the ORCA bus!

How garage sale profits can help build stronger communities

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First Credit Union staff (and family!) setting up for the garage sale on Saturday, September 12.

We admit it – over the years First Credit Union’s storage locker has collected far more than just dust. This is where displaced desks, worn-out chairs and old shelving units come to retire; every year more Christmas decorations accumulate in the corner and a summer’s worth of event supplies are added to the last. Walking through the maze of credit union relics brings back a lot of memories – but lately the florescent-lit room became so jam-packed that it was almost impossible to pick a path to the back of the room. In an ambitious effort to clear out our overflowing storage facility we hosted a garage sale this past Saturday; $565 was raised and all proceeds went to the First Credit Union Community Fund under the umbrella of the Powell River Community Foundation.

What is a community foundation?

A community foundation is a collection of charitable gifts donated by local citizens. These gifts are pooled and invested and the investment income is distributed as grants to local charitable organizations. The capital is never touched and continues to grow with each new gift, generating income to meet a wide range of community interests and needs for years to come.

First Credit Union is a proud affiliate of both the Powell River Community Foundation and the Bowen Island Community Foundation.  If you are looking to give back to your community, consider making a donation to your local Community Foundation. Anyone can give, at any time and in any amount. Whether it is profits from a garage sale, or the establishment of an endowment fund, community foundations welcome and appreciate all contributions. The larger the pool of capital a foundation has to invest, the more income can be earned and the more good can be done for our community. ~Tara

Don’t miss out on free contributions to your child’s education savings.


It’s back-to-school week, making this is a perfect time to think about saving for your child’s post-secondary education. While there are a few options available, the newest grant to be announced is the  British Columbia Training and Education Savings Grant.

The grant is a one-time provincial incentive of $1,200 available to children when they turn six years old. Parents with children born between January 1, 2007 to August 15, 2009 need to apply for the grant before August 14, 2018. Parents with children born after August 15, 2009 must apply between their child’s sixth and ninth birthdays.

You don’t need to contribute to a RESP to receive this grant, but you do need to open an RESP before your child turns nine. Contributing to a RESP will enable you to receive other grants as well – there are lots of different options for investments.

Although figuring out what grants and investments are available can seem overwhelming, there are some great tools to help.

  • Talk to us so we can help ensure you receive the grants you may be eligible for.
  • CanLearn is a government of Canada website with interactive information and tools designed to help you save, plan and pay for post-secondary education.

Ask us about RESPs and the available government grants – saving for your child’s education is one of the most important investments you will make. ~Tara

Movie Night Magic

Birthday Party at Movie Under the Stars in Powell River
Birthday Party at Movie Under the Stars in Powell River

In August we hosted our annual Movie Nights in Powell River, Bowen Island and Comox Valley.  Of all the events we are involved with, the movie nights are my favorite – hundreds of people come out to enjoy a free movie and support a local charity (all concession proceeds go to a local charity).

Besides raising funds for fantastic organizations (this year Success by 6 Orca Bus in Powell River, Tourism Bowen Island, and Cumberland Community School Society were the recipients), I love these events because they are a celebration of community. When you look out across the sea of fold-up chairs and blankets, you see children dancing, couples snuggling, parents laughing – even the occasional birthday party! It’s all part of the Movie Night Magic.


Where you bank makes a difference!

Where you bank makes a differenceWe believe this … we really, really do.  When you ‘bank’ at a credit union, you are an owner – with a voice, and a say in how things are run. Don’t like how your branch is being run? Have an idea that you want to share? You can talk to the branch manager, call up the CEO, or even join our board of directors. When you ‘bank’ with a credit union, profits go back to you (in the form of profit sharing) and your community (by way of donations, sponsorships and scholarships).  We give our profits back to our shareholders – you. When you ‘bank’ with a credit union, you are part of something much bigger than yourself – credit unions are on a mission to improve the quality of life for everyone. We like to say that it’s banking with a higher purpose! Choose to bank with a credit union – because where you bank really does make a difference.