Welcome to a new year on the Sunshine Coast. I hope 2013 brings us all exciting new possibilities, prosperity and peace in this beautiful place Iím thankful to call home. Now, while Iím starting off the new year with gushy good wishes, I know it will take more than lip service to make any of them come true. Thatís why Iím planning to invest some effort into things that need support this year, and I hope you will too.
I can think of one particular project that I believe will result in prosperity, some peace and new possibilities on the Coast for all of us ó the Progress Plan.
It doesnít sound sexy or even particularly intriguing, and the fact itís focused on women may make some of you tune out ó but stay with me as I connect the dots.
The Progress Planís mission is to improve the economic well-being of women on the Sunshine Coast. The planís survey of nearly 400 local women has shown that economic well-being is being negatively impacted by four main things: lack of transportation, low income, lack of affordable care for children and dependent adults, and an absence of community belonging.
The plan aims to improve these things to ultimately raise womenís economic well-being.
If youíre a woman on the Coast, you should care about this. If youíre not a woman, I bet you know at least one on the Coast whom you love, and that should be enough to make you care about the Progress Plan.
If youíre still on the fence, make it personal. The Progress Plan can help you.
Ask yourself if you care about transportation, affordable care, low wages or community belonging. I bet at least one hits home.
The Progress Plan has money to impact these areas, $294,000 in fact, to be spent by the end of 2015. The money will fund a number of pilot projects between now and then aimed at strengthening the weak spots. And hereís the best part ó you can have a say about how the money is spent.
Everyoneís invited to a Make Progress workshop slated for Jan. 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Sechelt Indian Band Hall. There community members can get involved by brainstorming ideas for change. Those ideas will be worked into the plan, and pilot projects will be crafted. Organizers want to walk away from the half-day workshop with solid ideas to help close to home. Find out more about the Progress Plan and the upcoming workshop at www.progressplan.ca.
If the Progress Plan isnít your thing, then think about one of these other worthwhile initiatives to support with your time, money or expertise in 2013.
VOICE on the Coast is an advocacy group for those aged 20 to 44. Their goal is to attract, retain and engage the younger generation, which is finding it increasingly difficult to live, work and raise families here. Linking up with this group is a great way to stay connected and up to date about whatís planned for young adults on the Coast. Go to www.voiceonthecoast.com for more.
If you have a soft spot in your heart for animals, think about volunteering some time at the Gibsons Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in 2013. Clint and Irene Davy have been running the Coastís only wild animal rescue centre from their home in Gibsons since 1988. They rely entirely on donations and volunteer help to care for the hundreds of animals they see each year. Find out more at www.gibsonswildliferehabcentre.org.
And if play is your passion, think about getting involved with the playground project in West Sechelt. The group has been fundraising for two years but are still far from their goal and could use some more help. Visit www.westsecheltplayground.com to learn more.