A South Surrey woman has been named chair of the 2014 Fraser Valley Young Leaders Community Council, which helps determine the funding priorities for Coast Capital Savings annual community granting program.
Samantha Shepherd, 26, was announced as chair at the end of last year, and has been on the council since 2012.
The financial planner – who has been a Coast Capital employee for nearly five years – has always had a passion for volunteering, and found that the move to a board would allow her to make a bigger impact.
“I found that the opportunities arising were one day here and one day there or being part of an event. And I wanted something that was a larger commitment,” she said. “And I also really wanted to get involved with a board, and receive board experience, and I also loved that it was at my work, at Coast Capital, I was always passionate about how they gave back. So it was the perfect amalgamation of everything I was looking for.”
Through the council, Shepherd and the board decide which community organizations will receive grants from the yearly budget allocated to them.
Out of the $1 million budget last year, $300,000 was allocated to the Fraser Valley, with the remainder divvied up between Metro Vancouver and the Island.
Local organizations that benefited from the grants include Semiahmoo Animal League Inc. and Alexandra House, which is working towards a youth program.
This year, the budget has increased by $500,000 and the plan is to use every last cent.
“We have a focus for where we actually grant – it’s always youth or children oriented,” she said. “It’s either regarding building financial literacy, building knowledge, helping them through school, building belonging – so they have that sense of community and family, to help build self esteem and social skills.”
The best part of is seeing how the funds have made a difference.
“I’m so pleased and blessed for this opportunity. We’re providing support for youth by youth and that’s so huge to me – that’s paramount.”