The concept for H2H was first brought up at a Rotary Club of Oliver visioning session in the spring of 2011. Throughout 2012 a committee of Rotary members explored the feasibility of such an organization: by speaking with families who had experienced a need for distant medical care for their child; by gaining knowledge from 2 other similar organizations; and by researching programs and assistance that was already available. The committee identified a need and set about to create a society to provide families with funding and information. The Highway to Healing Support Society was officially registered in November 2012 with a board comprised of five Rotarians. The plan was to eventually include other members of the community on the board.
So with a $300 start-up donation from the Rotary Club of Oliver and a $1,000 donation from a generous Rotarian H2H came into being. The next year was devoted to building the structure of the organization which meant registering as a charitable society, creating policies and procedures, opening bank accounts, sourcing potential funding, creating a website, engaging on social media and on and on and on.
On November 21, 2013 we held our official launch and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Right from the start citizens, service groups and businesses in Oliver saw the merit of H2H and on that first evening we received donations totalling $4,600. And now in 2017 we continue to marvel at the generosity of this community.
This new charity in Oliver, B.C. received registration by the Canada Revenue Agency on August 21, 2013. Since then we have supported 11 families whose children were faced with a variety of medical conditions that required travel away for medical care – some straight forward for assessment or consultation and others for life threatening conditions. This past year H2H support was made available for two new families and for 3 repeat families.
These families received $300 to $500 for a first trip depending on the length of their stay in Vancouver and support for longer stays up to $2500. We also supply a list of other agencies that may be available to help families that find themselves in this situation such as: the B.C. Families Residence Program that provides up to 30 days funding for accommodation and other agencies have helped with transportation needs.
Highway to Healing relies on donations from service organizations, corporate and individual donors. New this year were generous donations from C.C. Jentsch Cellars, Fairview Cellars, and the Kiwanis Club of Oliver. This support from the community has been tremendous and very much appreciated by the families that we support.
This year we held our second annual “Ride to Provide” bike ride cosponsored by Double O Bikes. We appreciated help from the Lions/Lioness Clubs with the barbeque that followed the ride. Also, many thanks go to the volunteers and the Oliver businesses that make this event possible.
Planning has started for the 2017 “Ride to Provide” to be held on Sunday, June 11. It is a fun event, so mark it on your calendars.
The “100 Women Who Care” organization chose Highway to Healing to receive funding from the members at their first meeting. Each of the women who attended donated $100 to our cause. This unique way to support charitable organizations is appreciated.
Riley Martin’s 2.1 km swim across Okanagan Lake was another third-party event where the funds were directed to H2H. The pledges for his great effort raised over $5000 thanks to Riley’s successful swim across the lake.
Community awareness is an important part of the work of the H2H Board of Directors. We want to be certain that all the families who need to travel for medical care know about the assistance that H2H provides. On our website, there is a simple application for families to complete if they are seeking help from H2H. We also want any potential donors to know how to contact us. We have a continuous ad on Oliver Daily News and we have phone, email and postal contact numbers. The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen (CFSOS) Knowledge Centre is another good website for information about the Highway to Healing Support Society. We have also made presentations to various clubs and groups in the Oliver area to increase community awareness and to reach out to families.
The new provincial Society’s Act has been introduced to non-profit societies in B.C. The Highway to Healing Support Society board will have to transition to the new legislation by November 2018. All of our bylaws need to be in an electronic format. This should not be an onerous task since we are a relatively new society and our correspondence with the registrar’s office has been through electronic means, however, we will take this opportunity to make minor changes to our bylaws. One change will be to expand our service area. To that end we are considering expansion to include the Town of Osoyoos, Area A of the RDOS, and the O.K. Falls area. Details for these changes in boundaries are being discussed with individuals in those areas.
This report is a collaboration with Joan McCaughey and me. Joan McCaughey was elected president at the 2015 AGM, but moved to the Comox Valley during the past year. We have missed her dearly. Since she was one of the original Rotary members to develop the H2H organization, we owe her a big debt of gratitude for all her hard work in getting H2H where it is now.
I would like to acknowledge the other board members and thank them for a job well done:
Tanya Martin, treasurer; Gail Barriskill, secretary; Riley Martin, director; Cindy Gosling, director; and Jim Cade, director. This Board worked conscientiously for the benefit of the families who we support.
The support received by Highway to Healing is an excellent example of how much the community cares about children and families.