Rendition of the new Health Sciences Centre being built on the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College. (Contributed)

Rendition of the new Health Sciences Centre being built on the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College. (Contributed)

Okanagan College fundraiser counters pandemic

Health Sciences Centre campaign has raised $2 million in midst of COVID economic slowdown

Raising money for health care education is an issue that strikes at the heart of many donors.

That relationship has enabled the Okanagan College fundraising campaign for the new Health Sciences Centre now under construction on the Kelowna campus.

Despite the economic impact of the coronavirus this past year, the Your Students, Our Health campaign has raised $3.5 million, with $2 million of that in the past year, towards its $5 million goal.

The province kicked in $15.4 million towards the project, about 75 per cent of the cost, leaving the college to make up the remainder.

“We can see the building going up so there is a pressure to meet our funding obligation,” stated Helen Jackman, executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation, the fundraising arm of the college.

“The plan is still to have the facility open when students return for fall classes in September.”

The college is coming off a successful campaign to raise $8 million for the building trades centre on the Kelowna campus, and looking past the Health Sciences Centre will be the next project.

The college’s Capital Master Plan includes a Wellness Centre and Food, Wine Tourism Centre on the Kelowna Campus. Both of these projects would require provincial approval to move ahead. At this point neither are confirmed.

The next capital project, announced by Premier John Horgan in March, will be the new student residences on Kelowna, Salmon Arm and Vernon Campuses.

But Jackman acknowledges COVID-19 has not made the fundraising task any easier, but yet many donors have stepped forward with individual significant donations.

READ MORE: City councillor gives from the heart

READ MORE: Kelowna mayor, WFN chief join haircuts for health care campaign

With the emphasis on health care, Jackman suggests striking a chord with donors is the students graduating with health care field supporters will be the people caring for us as we age.

Jackman said college grads will filter out into jobs at Kelowna General Hospital, long-term care facilities, pharmacies and dental clinics.

“Graduates of our health care assistant diploma program are in big demand right now,” she said.

Besides being an upgraded building, Jackman noted the Health Sciences Centre will be outfitted with health are training labs that mirror what students will face in the health care workforce.

She said health program students now take classes in buildings that date back to 1963.

“They just don’t fit the purpose anymore of what and how students today need to learn, so when you think about teaching and learning, it is pretty exciting to see the potential for simulating real-life health care experiences in a learning environment,” she said.

Maxine DeHart, the Your Students Our Health campaign ambassador, said she has been amazed by the generosity of donors in this past year.

“When we started this campaign it was pre-pandemic, so we really didn’t know what the pandemic was going to mean…but people have come forward with significant donations,” DeHart said.

“The odd thing is the pandemic has helped in a way because it has made people stop and think, ‘Oh God, this is exactly what we need more than ever.’ I would not have thought that would have been the reaction.”

Echoing Jackman’s sentiments, DeHart said people are supporting the campaign because they see the relationship of how health sciences program graduates will be sustaining a health care system that will look after them in the future.

“And it is just not about care for seniors. We are talking about physiotherapists, massage therapists, pharmacy assistants…health care services that benefit people of all ages,” she added.

DeHart said fundraising hurdles caused by the pandemic have been countered by the relationship that Okanagan College has built with the city.

For more info on the project and to donate go to To book a tour or donate over the phone call 250-762-5445, ext 4772.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.



Participants of the Okanagan Nation Purple Ribbon Campaign march over the William R. Bennett Bridge from Westbank to Kelowna's City Park on Aug. 28, 2019, in support of International Overdose Awareness Day. (David Venn - Kelowna Capital News)

Just Posted

The wildfire season in the Okanagan Valley region has been approached with greater apprehension and concern from area residents since the historic Okanagan Mountain Park fire in 2003. That fire burned 25,600 hectares, forced evacuations in Kelowna and Naramata impacting more than 33,000 people, destroyed 238 homes, and claimed 12 wooden trestles and damaged two other steel trestles in Myra Canyon. (File photo)
Ominous wildfire outlook if June rains don’t return to Okanagan

Dry spring is fueling potential for busy wildfire season in July and August

Joe Rich residents want logging operations in the area to stop for now until they get more clarity on slope stability and risks to the Mission Creek watershed. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Joe Rich logging poses watershed risk: residents

Area residents want the logging to stop in the area for the time being

Kelowna Law Courts. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Former Vernon teacher found guilty of historic sex crimes against minors

Anoop Singh Klair was found guilty of all eight charges against him in a Kelowna courtroom on Friday

An algal bloom on Wood Lake has residents concerned for the body of water's health. (Wendy Innes-Shaw)
‘Wood Lake looks seriously unwell’: Lake Country residents

Algal bloom appears to be getting worse, and stinky

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

KCR Migrant Support Worker, Javier, had an exciting day escorting his son Ian with him during ‘Take your Child to Work Day’!
KCR: Volunteering is being part of a whole

KCR Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

The real estate market is hot in Vernon, and across the Okanagan. (John Dent photo)
North Okanagan home prices, demand continue to build

Single family home volumes up 200 per cent, worth average $647,000

A wildfire southeast of Vernon has been added to the BC Wildfire dashboard Friday, May 14, 2021. (BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire sparks southeast of Vernon

The fire appears to be in a remote area east of Aberdeen Lake

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Most Read