Catherine Links with W. Brett Wilson Award poster.

Catherine Links with W. Brett Wilson Award poster.

Health care assistant student awarded W. Brett Wilson Prize

Creative care project draws praise for Okanagan College student Catherine Links.

  • May. 9, 2015 8:00 a.m.

For her embodiment of the true spirit of philanthropy in our community, an Okanagan College student has been named the recipient of the W. Brett Wilson Prize.

Catherine Links, a student in the Health Care Assistant program at the Penticton campus, was awarded the $750 prize for a project she has developed to strengthen care-giver/resident connections in complex care situations.

The prize was established by the Okanagan College Foundation earlier this year in honour of W. Brett Wilson, well-known Canadian entrepreneur, philanthropist and ‘Dragon Emeritus’ from the CBC show Dragons’ Den. Wilson delivered a free lecture at Okanagan College on Jan.27; he spoke about the importance of giving back.

“I am so grateful for this generous prize,” said Links. “It will help me to fulfill the vision I have for a program that will hopefully bring a great deal of comfort and happiness to members of our community requiring complex care.”

“I believe we need to spread the message that giving back to our communities is an opportunity, not an obligation,” added Wilson. “Whether we’re talking about corporate social responsibility for a large organization or individuals and families giving back, the point is that we can all contribute in some way to making our communities a better place.

“I want to extend my congratulations and appreciation to Catherine Links and to all the students who put forward great ideas for philanthropic projects in the Okanagan. I wish you all much success with these important endeavours.”

Links’ essay, “Furthering Philanthropy” was selected by a panel of judges as the top submission among nearly two dozen proposed philanthropic projects.

Prior to her studies, Links had previously cared for two close family members, which inspired her to consider a career in health care. After enrolling in the program at Okanagan College as a mature student, Links, says she found her true calling when she discovered the struggles faced by those in our community who require complex care, including the challenges of dementia and physical decline.

During her practicum in an extended care facility in Penticton, Links was tasked with caring for a female resident coping with dementia and requiring total care. Through art, music, and personal materials gathered with the help of the resident’s family, Links was able to build a connection with the resident.

“Giving back is the most beautiful way to spend one’s time. I believe it is the very heartbeat of a healthy society,” explains Links.

Links plans to utilize the funds from the prize to develop as many individually-tailored care kits as she can.

The W. Brett Wilson Prize was created for Okanagan College students in any program, who demonstrate a strong interest in strengthening the culture of philanthropy in the Okanagan; entrants were required to propose a project that would tangibly benefit the community.

“W. Brett Wilson’s efforts to further the culture of philanthropy in Canada has been recognized at the highest level,” said  Kathy Butler, executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “We are very excited that the prize in his name has inspired students to develop some wonderful ideas for philanthropic projects in the Okanagan.”

Born in North Battleford, Sask., and now hailing from Calgary, Wilson owns a home in Kelowna, as well as several properties and businesses, including Global Fitness. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2011 and has received many awards for his business and philanthropic efforts.

More information about the W. Brett Wilson Prize and other Okanagan College awards, bursaries, and scholarships, can be found at okanagan.bc.ca/awards.

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