The Royal Bank of Canada is celebrating 50 years in the community with a major monetary donation to Ladysmith Family and Friends (LaFF), in turn helping the non-profit strengthen bonds among families and provide greater support for early years mental wellness.
The First Avenue branch was recently party central as LaFF board members, programming staff and volunteers were overjoyed in accepting a $10,000 cheque from bank representatives.
Branch manager for the past decade, Allison Brind said the team made a decision to donate to LaFF based on its goal of supporting children in the community, especially when it comes to mental health awareness.
“We have been engaged with LaFF for the past four years and had the opportunity to truly understand the positive impact they have on our community,” she said. “The key to LaFF’s success is not just the organization, but all the volunteers that truly make the difference. They provide support, guidance, and resources to young families to create happy and healthy home environments and create a community amongst families and children.”
RBC is currently the co-sponsors of LaFF’s Santa’s Breakfast as well as the 5th annual golf day that took place in May. Last year they volunteered time to help repaint Aggie Hall and have expressed interest in doing some of the landscaping for the new playground.
LaFF’s executive director Jacqueline Neligan said beyond the monetary benefit she was appreciative of the partnership with a corporation interested in supporting mindfulness for children.
“It definitely is a major donation and amazingly received with tons of gratitude from staff and volunteers,” she said. “Just knowing that there is a community of support behind what we’re doing is probably the most meaningful.”
Social and emotional wellness in the form of anxiety and aggression are the two major issues facing children in this area of the province according to data collected by the University of British Columbia, she added.
An overabundance of screen time continues to be a contributing factor in how children grow up and interact with the world around them.
“It’s easier to be on their parent’s phone than it is to do some arts and crafts, and get outside and play in nature or discover the joy of drawing with a stick in the sand,” said Neligan, who is also LaFF’s early years child coordinator.
“It’s those foundational pieces of being a child and unstructured play that’s what kids really need so that when they’re adults they can remember ‘what was my passion when I was a kid’.”
The funding is going directly towards supporting mental wellness by furthering programs such as adult-children yoga and meditation, or teaching those adults about self-care and how to pass along those lessons at home.
RBC’s contribution will also support LaFF being able to expand its offerings for special events to help form bonds among families.
“What we’re hearing is that they’re wanting a little more support outside of the general programming hours to connect,” Neligan added.
It might be family dinners, family yoga night, it could be a circle where mums or dads in the evening might gather and do some vision boarding or look at some of the different kinds of tools that we can introduce to parents so they can support their families.”
Local RBC branch employees are involved within the community in a number of different ways.
The Days of Service program sees six employees and/or family members volunteers two to three hours outside of their work hours to a registered charity, which then in turn receives a $1,000 donation.
Organizations supported over the past three years have included Ladysmith Food Bank, LaFF, Cowichan Marine Search and Rescue, Ladysmith Secondary School, Chemainus Harvest House, Chemainus Seniors Drop In and Cowichan SPCA.
“This is quite an accomplishment for our small branch that only has 10 employees and four partners that support us. It is through these opportunities that we have been able to learn about these fantastic organizations and how they make a true difference to our community,” Brand said.