Playing Santa Claus

Christmas Bureau

There’s no rest for Christmas elves. The Christmas Bureau works all year round to gather and distribute toys so that more children can share in the joy of Christmas. Thanks in part to funding from Vancouver Foundation, they have been able to open a new warehouse and hire an additional staff person.

Their new space helps them, and an army of volunteers, gather and organize their stash of toys so they can distribute them to other social service agencies, and get them to children of low income families in time for Christmas morning. 

Making a Big Impression

For someone who is just over 5 feet tall, Shirley Wong makes a big impression.

Wong remembers the first word she learned in English. As a six-year-old, in Grade 1 at Vancouver's Lord Strathcona Elementary School in 1940, she spoke no English, only Chinese. One day when her teacher raised the flash card again, the strange hieroglyphics finally made sense. It said "baby."

Thus began a 41-year career in education, a lifelong commitment to learning, a strong desire to give back to the community, and a new sandbox.

Catering and Banquet Services

Potluck Cafe Society

Many people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside have a history of unstable employment, making it difficult to get hired by any employer.

The Potluck Café aims to enhance employment opportunities for residents by providing skills training, a meal service program, community kitchen, lunch delivery service and catering. It also helps workers define their short- and long-term goals, while learning new skills they can take to their next job.

Caring for Briana

“Everyone that looks after her falls in love with her. They just get hooked. We call it the “Briana fix”—they all want more, more, more,” Bernie Shephard, laughing with his wife Marilyn.

Some people might think the Shephards don’t have much to laugh about. While their 20-year-old granddaughter Briana is indeed adorable, with angelic wide-set eyes, tightly curled hair and an irrepressible grin, she was also born profoundly disabled. She’s deaf, blind, in a wheelchair and completely dependant on others to meet every physical need.

Accumulating Good Deeds

It's been quite a journey for Vancouver businessman Tung Chan.

Chan, a Hong Kong native, immigrated to Vancouver in his early 20s, waiting tables to put himself through school.

Today, his list of accomplishments is as impressive as it is varied: District Vice-President with TD Bank Financial Group, City of Vancouver Councillor and currently CEO of SUCCESS, are just a few of his career highlights.

A reason to smile in Kamloops

Nowadays, many Canadian children grow up without cavities, thanks to regular check-ups and daily oral hygiene. The reality for some Aboriginal children, however, is far different.

Without ready access to oral health services and education, rates of tooth decay are two to five times higher among First Nations children. And they are more likely to need dental surgery than their non-Aboriginal peers.

A Dedicated Philanthropist

A dedicated philanthropist, Wosk has had a long involvement with Vancouver Foundation. He is a member of the Foundation's Education Advisory Committee and in 2005 established the Yosef Wosk Libraries, Museums and Archives Fund to honour the past, and inform the future.

"Libraries, museums and archives are temples for recording and understanding knowledge," explains Wosk who has established or endowed over two hundred libraries and museums worldwide. "In this quickly-moving world, many people have lost a sense of context, of where they came from and the wisdom of tradition."

The Healthy Harvest Box

The Healthy Harvest Box is the brainchild of the Penticton and District Community Resources Society. Families who subscribe get a large box of local, organic produce for only $12 a month.

This non-profit social enterprise was supported by a $25,000 grant from Vancouver Foundation.

Their organizational vision is a strong community with opportunities for everyone, including the ability to access healthy, affordable food.

(Originally aired: 2005)


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