The Kiwanis Club of Kelowna is donating $125,000 to Okanagan College to support students who will graduate and work with children and youth in the community.
The major gift establishes the Kiwanis Kelowna 2018 Legacy Education Endowment, which will provide two annual $2,000 scholarships to a student in the Early Childhood Education and Human Service Work programs.
“Both early childhood educators and human service workers play a major role in supporting the well-being of children and youth,” said Bob Bissell, president of the Central Okanagan Kiwanis Community Service Society in a press release. “We wanted to help ease some of the financial burden on these students so they can better focus on their studies, which ultimately benefits our community’s children and youth.”
Students, College representatives and children from Little Scholars child care took part in applauding the announcement at Okanagan College this morning.
“We’re thankful to the Kiwanis Club of Kelowna, which has worked for more than 40 years to make a difference in the lives of children and seniors in our community,” said Jim Hamilton, Okanagan College president. “With the establishment of this significant endowment, Kiwanis is helping students today and tomorrow. In turn, these students will enhance the quality of life for children and youth in our community for decades to come.”
Second year ECE student Jo-Dee Lebrun spoke at the event, sharing her experience in the program.
“At first, starting a new chapter in my life felt really overwhelming but with the guidance from our instructors a passion was lit inside me for not only this career but advocating for children and other early childhood educators,” said Lebrun. “This program has taught us to not only be better educators but better human beings.”
Kiwanis is well known in the Central Okanagan for their support of activities for children, including the Kiwanis Music Festival and breakfast clubs at several elementary schools.
The funds for the endowment came from the sale of the Kiwanis Tower, located at the corner of Lawrence and Gordon. The high rise was designed to provide affordable housing to low-income seniors and was managed by the Kiwanis Clubs of Kelowna for over 40 years until the sale in 2016.
Central Okanagan Kiwanis Community Service Society is using the funds from the sale to support children and youth locally and has donated to a number of charities.
Bissell says Kiwanis chose Okanagan College because it has an excellent reputation and the programs to ensure the investment is well utilized beyond the foreseeable future.
The donation will support the College’s Caring Starts Here campaign, which aims to raise money for the $18.9-million Health Sciences Centre located at the Kelowna campus, as well as student scholarships and bursaries.
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