I was born and raised in the Central Okanagan and it remains my home today.
Anyone who has lived here will know just what makes it such a special place.
We have an amazing, caring community, filled with passionate people working constantly to improve it.
Communities are built by the hard work of individuals who donate their time to worthwhile projects—whether it’s coaching a youth hockey team or volunteering at a local emergency shelter.
I feel privileged to have known and worked with so many great volunteers.
I’ve also tried to give back as much as I can, serving as a local Scout leader, knocking on doors for the annual Kinsmen’s Mothers March, helping raise funding for Cystic Fibrosis, and supporting the Rotary Centre for the arts.
I am always amazed by the dedication and passion of my fellow volunteers.
Their work ethic and spirit of volunteerism is a model for others, and they deserve our appreciation and support.
One of the great pleasures of serving in government is the opportunity to recognize and support volunteers and volunteer-based organizations working in our community.
Our government’s Community Gaming Grants program is just one program that provides important financial support to worthwhile local non-profit organizations.
Gaming grants allow us to take provincial gaming revenue and distribute it to deserving groups.
My fellow Central Okanagan MLAs Steve Thomson, Norm Letnick, and I are supportive and engaged in seeing volunteer groups provided with much-needed financial support to help them deliver important services.
In my various roles as a public servant and a volunteer, I have learned how important this financial support can mean.
I have heard countless passionate stories of people who wouldn’t be where they are today without some of our dedicated volunteer groups.
For instance, last month I, along with Steve and Norm, was very happy to visit Martin Avenue Community Centre to present a $225,000 cheque to the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs.
We met with several individuals who truly have dedicated their lives to one of our community’s most important assets—our children.
Since April 2012, we have given out more than $4 million in gaming grants to Central Okanagan organizations.
They go to diverse groups including Parent Advisory Councils, sports clubs, environmental groups and social services—programs that are important to our families.
It is a pleasure to see the difference these grants can make in supporting the worthwhile programs carried out by volunteers and delivering grassroots programs to meet local needs effectively.
Recently, I was asked about my favourite part of being an MLA.
For me, the answer is simple—it’s the opportunity to serve our community.
I have received so much from our community and the people living here. I’m honoured to have the opportunity to give something back.
Ben Stewart is the Liberal MLA for Westside-Kelowna.