• COVID-19
  • Supporting Our Communities In Times of Uncertainty


August 7: UPDATE

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A message from Paulo Araujo | President

I hope you enjoyed the B.C. Day long weekend. One of the things I know you love about your credit union is our dedication to supporting our communities—I hear this from members all the time. I’m proud to share that our employees volunteered nearly 700 days to help those in need last year and Feed the Valley, our signature cause program, generated $329,920 and 11,207 pounds of food in 2019, equivalent to 989,760 meals for British Columbians.

We do this because lending a hand to those in need is embedded in our culture—our mission is to help our members and communities thrive.

Answering the call of our community partners

At the beginning of the pandemic, we stepped it up even more by expediting funding to our charitable partners through a rapid deployment Community Response Fund. COVID-19 hit our communities’ most vulnerable populations hard—removing access to food banks, mental or developmental services and furthering loss of income. Since we launched this initiative in May, the First West Foundation, the philanthropic partner of First West Credit Union, has granted $124,320 to chartable organizations focused on food security and basic needs for youth, families and seniors in the Thompson, Okanagan and Similkameen valleys.

One such organization was the Kamloops COVID Meal Train, which was born out of the urgent need to get meals to Kamloops’ most vulnerable citizens when soup kitchens were forced to close temporarily. What started as a small group of six volunteers quickly grew to a team of 400 to get those meals into the hands of people who needed them most.

Another beneficiary of the Community Response Fund was the YMCA of Okanagan, which not only had to shift the way it delivered its early years programs, but also had to enhance the services it provided to 120 of the most vulnerable young families in its communities.

Learn more about Feed the Valley and the First West Foundation and how you can help make a difference in the lives of children and families in our communities.

Supporting local business: Members helping members

As a financial cooperative, we know one of the best ways to support our communities is to support our local business members, so we’ve stepped up to offer discounts to our members when they support our business members. Get a Meal, Give a Meal, which just wrapped up on July 31, offered members $25 off one order of $50 or more at participating Valley First member restaurants. Even better, for each order that was placed, Valley First kicked in $5 for Feed the Valley. The response from you, our members, was overwhelming. In total you purchased 553 meals, and we reimbursed businesses $13,825 and donated $2,765 to Feed the Valley, providing the equivalent of 8,295 meals to families using food banks throughout the Thompson, Okanagan and Similkameen valleys.

On the heels of that success, we decided to create a new program to help you save money while exploring B.C. this summer. Check out this fantastic list of discounts and special offers that our member lodging providers have created just for you.

It’s so gratifying to see how our business members are responding to the pandemic as well. I find the story of Dubh Glas Distillery in Oliver incredibly inspiring. When the demand for hand sanitizer started surging, the distillery pivoted their operations to produce this essential product. Hand sanitizer was in short supply in the Okanagan, including at Valley First, so we made a major purchase to protect our employees and support our member’s business. Watch the story here.

Here for you from the start

At Valley First, we’ve been here for you since the beginning of this pandemic with most of our branches remaining open. With member and employee health as our utmost concern, we reduced the service of our branches and at the same time expanded our Member Advice Centre, our online banking tools and mobile app to ensure you can do more of your day to day banking without leaving the comfort of your home. I’m pleased to announce that we’re entering the next phase of our re-entry plan and our downtown Penticton branch is reopening on August 17. As we increase our in-person services, I want to remind you that the pandemic is still very much a concern—with recent outbreaks right here in the Okanagan—and you can do most of your day to day banking remotely with our online banking tools, mobile app or by calling our Member Advice Centre.

Stay safe and enjoy the summer with your families (from a distance, of course).   

Paulo Araujo | President, Valley First  

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