Vernon United Way director says goodbye after 25 years with organization - InfoNews

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Vernon United Way director says goodbye after 25 years with organization

United Way North Okanagan Columbia Shuswap executive director Linda Yule is pictured in this undated photo.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Linda Yule
March 25, 2019 - 3:04 PM

VERNON - After 25 years with the United Way, executive director Linda Yule describes her upcoming retirement as "bittersweet."

Yule started volunteering at the United Way in 1994, before taking the helm at the United Way North Okanagan Columbia Shuswap over 15 years ago. She'll now work her last day March 29, before stepping into retirement.

"It warms my heart and it makes me proud of my community," Yule says of the work the organization, its partners and countless volunteers have achieved over the years.

From her early days as a volunteer, Yule says she came to realize how many programs and organizations United Way was supporting.

Yule says as a small organization they can't fix poverty, but they can help people who are in poverty.

"I just felt it was something worthwhile."

The international organization was founded in the U.S. over 130 years ago, with the Vernon chapter starting in 1961. Each United Way chapter is independent and works with frontline organizations in the community.

Spanning an area from Vernon east to Golden, north to Sorrento and west to Falkland, each year the United Way raises between $160,000 to $200,000 a year which it then donates to 22 different community groups.

Those groups represent a cross section of the community and include The Family Resource Centre, The Boys and Girls Club, Food Action Society, Community Dental Access and North Okanagan Therapeutic Riding.

Working with a diverse group of organizations — who in turn are all on the frontline providing services to kids, youth, families, seniors and people with diverse abilities — means you're not missing any sector of the community, Yule says.

Yule says it's the people she's worked with, and the dedication shown by the different agencies, that she's enjoyed the most.

"[They] care about the people they provide services to... so very much," she says. "It's all about trying to make life good for everybody, you can't do everything for everyone, but you can help make someone's life easier...and it matters so much to the fabric of our whole community."

And raising that much cash each year is not without its difficulties.

"You have to be diverse in your funding streams... it's a challenge," Yule says.

Raising awareness of the challenges people face and keeping that message out there is also a big challenge.

One in three people is helped by the United Way, Yule says. The number sounds high but the hardships faced by those in poverty are often hidden from the community, she says.

"It's there but it's not always easy to see. There are so many truly working poor in this area, working two or three jobs to keep their family together," she says. "It could be your neighbour, it could be your colleague."

While Yule is immensely proud of the work the United Way has done and she admits as one of only two paid members of staff the job has had its challenges. From "pulling an event together out of thin air" to making sure annual fundraisers like the Drive-Thru Breakfast runs smoothly, Yule has been under a lot of pressure.

So what will Yule do with her retirement?

"For a while, just breath," she says.

And will she volunteer again with the United Way?

"I may," she replied.

Yule also encourages people to come and volunteer and learn more about their community.

The annual Drive-Thru Breakfast will take place Oct. 3 at the Prestige Vernon Lodge. For more information about the United Way go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2019
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