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Fundraising campaign kicks off for College’s State-of-the-Art new Health Sciences Centre
The Okanagan College Foundation has launched its largest fundraising effort in Kelowna in more than five years, with a new campaign aimed at benefitting students and transforming the health of our communities for decades to come.
Our Students, Your Health is a $5-million campaign to support the completion of the new $18.9-million Health Sciences Centre under construction at the Kelowna campus.
College students, staff and community members gathered on Wednesday evening to announce the goal and tour the construction site for the new Centre.
“We’ve graduated more than 11,000 health care professionals since our current health building opened in 1963,” notes Jim Hamilton, President of Okanagan College. “When you consider the sheer number of people those graduates have cared for, across so many settings, it paints a picture of just how vital skilled health care workers are to the wellbeing of our communities and employers across the province and the country.”
“Our current building has served our students well, but it’s time for a new facility that will provide our students with a state-of-the-art learning environment to match the quality of instruction they are receiving at the College,” says Hamilton.
Beyond building sparkling new classrooms and modern labs, the campaign also seeks to raise critical support for the other factors that drive student success.
$1.5 million of the $5-million goal will allow the College to upgrade technology and equipment, and create new scholarships and bursaries for students entering in-demand health care professions.
“I think this campaign is particularly meaningful in that it resonates very personally with so many people. It hits home,” says Helen Jackman, Executive Director of the OC Foundation. “We can all think of a moment in our lives when each of us, or a close friend or family member, has needed care. These are the students who are going to provide that care to all of us, now and for years to come.
“What could be more important than supporting them in realizing their goals, finishing their studies and stepping out into such important – and needed – careers?”
Members of the community have already stepped forward with support and are joining the College and the Foundation in championing the cause.
“We’ve set a lofty goal,” says Maxine DeHart, Campaign Ambassador. “But there is no more lofty goal than changing someone’s life, than empowering students to care for others, to ease pain, nurture our children, provide a helping hand to our elderly and our vulnerable. I’ve witnessed truly remarkable generosity in this region over the years, and I’m confident that generosity will bubble up once again and the good people of the Okanagan will help us reach our goal.”
The B.C. government is funding $15.4 million of the $18.9-million total project cost for the new Centre.
“This new facility is going to help us continue to address the very real skills shortages across the health care industry in the valley and across the province,” adds Hamilton.
The 2,800 square-metre (30,000 square-foot) facility is replacement space for current labs and classrooms in which practical nurses, dental assistants, health-care assistants and other health and social development students train.
As recent OC graduate Krystal Rose can attest, that kind of support can be life-changing for students.
A single mother of two young children, Rose credits a donor-funded bursary for allowing her to keep her focus on her most important priorities: her studies and her family. After graduating in 2018, she is now a Practical Nurse working with Interior Health.
“I wanted to show my kids that even as a single parent you can still go after your dreams no matter what obstacles are in your way,” says Rose.
“The financial aspect of going back to school was the biggest barrier I had to face as I had to pay for child care on top of my school supplies, tuition and living expenses. I am so grateful for the financial support I have received. I hope Okanagan College donors and future donors comprehend the truly life-changing impact they have through this campaign.”
Rose and her peers are stepping into the industry at a critical time.
Call for health care professionals is only expected to grow over the next decade. Recent labour market data predicts there could be need for as many as 25,000 nurses required to staff B.C.’s health care system over the next 10 years.
The new Health Sciences Centre is expected to be completed in Spring 2020, with student occupancy in Fall 2020.
Information about the new facility and how to donate is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/healthcentre.