Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) will be able to offer double the number of kids funding for its camps this year after striking up a new partnership with Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
The hotel has donated $6,000 to the Campfund, which means 30 kids can receive funding — up from 15 last year. “Last year the board identified that if we wanted this program to be able to keep pace with Whistler we needed to get out there and find a sponsor or write a grant,” said WCSS executive director, Cheryl Skribe.
The organization runs camps all year long — ranging from sports to arts or leadership camps. Some are just a day or two while others run for longer periods through spring break or summer vacation. “We’ve had (the fund) for a few years,” Skribe said. “As we see more and more young families staying and raising families in Whistler, we’re starting to see a wider range of financial abilities to support kids. It’s an expensive place to live and once you start adding extra things, it can add up pretty quickly.”
Becoming a presenting sponsor was a good fit for the Fairmont, said Michelle Leroux, director of public relations for the hotel. “It sounds like a program we’ll continue to support in the future,” she said. “It would be hard to grow up in Whistler and not have access to everything your peers have. In Whistler it would be more in your face. There are so many activities that cost so much money. You can really get high quality gear at the Re-Use-It Centre (run by WCSS) and support through these funds. It lessens the burden on the parents.”
The relationship between the hotel and WCSS has been growing for some time, Skribe said, beginning when the head of HR at the hotel asked WCSS to give a presentation to its senior staff about what the organization offers locals in need. “Everyone at the Fairmont got really excited about what we have to offer and how to support our most vulnerable people in the community,” she said.
One of the first major contributions came when the hotel offered to serve as a venue for the recent WCSS-hosted talk by debt guru Gail Vaz-Oxlade. “That was huge,” Skribe said. “She was a big draw and we needed a big place. The fact that we got to arrive and have this staff set up everything and tear down everything and let us focus on that event and keep the cost down for the community — that was key.”
Since then, the Fairmont has also offered up its chefs to cook hot lunch for food bank users on Mondays — a task that other high-end chefs in the resort have also helped with in the past. “It’s a bit of a chef’s challenge because they have to pick items from the Food Bank and cook food for those days,” Skribe said.
Finally, the hotel has helped the organization with its communications skills with staff-led workshops. Leroux has also joined the WCSS board.
But it’s not just a one-way street, Leroux said. “There’s opportunity for so many synergies,” she said. “When you look at the programs they offer, every single employer in town has employees using these services.”
For more information on the campfund visit mywcss.org/programs/campfund.