Generous $500,000 gift supports childcare centre construction at OC’s Vernon campus

By College Relations | May 16, 2022

Vernon Childcare Centre donation
Gladys Fraser, Chair, OC Foundation; Helen Jackman; Executive Director, OC Foundation; Eric Reist, General Manager, Vernon Students’ Association; Athena Grelson, OC student; Lloyd Davies; and Janet Armstrong

Sometimes it only takes a small lift to get one individual over a hurdle. But to help many people, former Okanagan College instructor Lloyd Davies has demonstrated a big commitment goes a long way to breaking down barriers.

This is what inspired the long-time Vernon resident and his wife Janet Armstrong to donate $500,000 to OC to help build a childcare centre in their community.

Davies has long believed childcare is the missing link for learners trying to access education in their adult years. He first noticed the impact of daycare in 1985, when he returned to Okanagan College to complete his teaching certification training through the SFU extension Professional Development Program. He noticed that one topic kept coming up in conversation around the lunch table with his peers.

“I had several colleagues who were struggling with daycare. They were trying to get teacher credentials and further their careers but finding daycare for their children was a hassle,” Davies recalls.

He joined Okanagan College in 1999 to teach adult upgrading courses for 15 years, which completed his 30-year career teaching Kindergarten through Grade 12.

“I had a whole bunch of adult learners, and a lot of them with younger families had problems with daycare,” he says. “Time and again, I would have students missing class, missing labs, missing exams. It was an ongoing issue with students who had young children. It was never a huge number, but it was pretty apparent what was happening. Really good students were working really, really hard, but daycare was just this huge hurdle for them to get over.”

Davies and Armstrong have made contributions to Vernon community groups in the past, supporting causes that typically Armstrong was involved with: the North Okanagan Hospice Society and Greater Vernon Cultural Centre. “This was Lloyd’s turn,” she says with a smile.

Davies had been a tireless advocate for on-campus childcare for many years; and when he heard about the project to create student housing at the Vernon campus, he saw the opportunity to make a difference.

“Lloyd and Janet’s leadership created the momentum needed to build a childcare centre at the Vernon campus, and the Okanagan College Foundation is grateful for their generosity,” said Gladys Fraser, OC Foundation Chair. “Adult learners shouldn’t have to worry about their children while they are studying. Having on-campus childcare will alleviate stress and foster balance that will set students up for success. The impact of this gift will serve generations of adult learners for years to come and create a better future for all.”

The gift enabled Okanagan College to apply to the Government of B.C.'s ChildCareBC New Spaces Fund to create new childcare spaces at the Vernon campus. ChildCareBC’s intake for 2022 focused on spaces run by public and non-profit institutions, with priority provided to spaces co-located at places of learning such as post-secondary institutions.

The Government of B.C. has committed $18 million to build student housing at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus, which will create 100 beds for students seeking affordable housing during their studies. The childcare centre will be co-located with the student housing, and operated by Maven Lane. Project planning is underway.

“Okanagan College is humbled to see the groundswell of community and government support for childcare at the Vernon campus. These are tremendous investments that will strengthen the social resiliency of the community,” said Okanagan College President Neil Fassina. “Access to higher learning empowers individuals to realize their full potential, and we cannot wait to open the doors to more adult learners and their children.”

Davies’ contribution will go toward the additional capital costs required to construct the childcare centre.

“Having a daycare on campus will make a huge difference in the lives of parents who are studying right here at the Vernon campus,” said Eric Reist, General Manager of the Vernon Students' Association of Okanagan College. “We thank Lloyd and his family for choosing to invest in our college community.”

For Davies, the service will make a difference in the lives of students – which has always been a source of pride for him.

“It’s wonderful running into former students to find out they’ve gone on to different things. They are always appreciative of the education assistance that they receive at the College. It brings tears to my eyes to see people who I taught 10 to 15 years ago and now they’re headed on this amazing trajectory.”

Tags: OC Foundation, Vernon, Vernon Student Association Okanagan College



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