The United Way of Northern BC has brought the Tree of Lights, a well-known holiday celebration, back to Prince George. This year, the team at United Way is raising funds to put toward mental health supports in the Prince George area with a goal of $25,000.
The 60-foot tree atop the Coast Prince George Hotel by APA can currently be seen in downtown Prince George, but as donations come in, more of the tree will be lit up and will become visible from across the city. Once the $25,000 goal is met, the entire tree will be lit, acting as a beacon of hope, signalling the magic of the season and the coming together of a community to provide a hand up to those around them that need it most.
“We are so grateful for the amazing response we’ve received about us bringing the tree back,” said Trista Spencer, Interim Executive Director, United Way of Northern BC. “We have heard some delightful stories of people’s connection to the tree from the past and of excitement around it being back in Prince George. While we’ve had overwhelming support to have the tree back in our community, we are only one-fifth of the way to our $25,000 goal. We need Prince George’s help to get there.
The United Way is directing all the proceeds from this campaign to mental health supports in Prince George.
“We chose this area of need due to how prevalent it is in our lives,” said Spencer. “We are all touched by mental health issues in some way and need to take care of our own mental health on a day to day basis. Just like with our physical health, we may need to reach out for help. We are looking to make sure that when someone has the courage to reach out, the help they need is there.”
Mental health needs continue to increase; whether friends, family, co-workers, or ourselves, everyone is touched by these difficulties in some way. The holiday season can make issues around mental health even more prevalent, amplifying already fragile situations and putting further pressure on already waning resources.
Children in difficult home-life situations feel the difference of what they have versus societal expectations and may not get to participate in the season in ways others may take for granted. Seniors feel even more isolated if they have little or no family around – an issue we are seeing grow due to the aging population in our region. Youth suicide has been on the rise and with resources thinning for schools and parents in helpless situations, it’s hard to know what the next step is to provide the right support to this age group.
Drug and alcohol addiction continues to be prevalent, rising and changing as new substances become accessible. Substance abuse often begins with particularly stressful life circumstances, lack of diagnosis, or available resources to help people endure. And then there is poverty, often a significant result of someone not getting the resources they need to live an independent life as a result of mental health issues.
“Please help us light the Tree of Lights and bring the light of hope to so very many in our community,” said Spencer. “We truly want to provide people with this vital support so they can thrive rather than just survive.”
United Way of Northern BC will be collecting donations toward this campaign until December 22, when they will have a final light up event from 3-5 p.m. at the Coast Prince George Hotel by APA. Come to the event to hear the final total raised, enjoy some treats and Christmas carols by Cantata Choir, and see Santa before he heads off to the North Pole.
Donations can be made at the United Way of Northern BC office on the Fifth floor of the Prince George Native Friendship Centre, at the front desk at The Coast Prince George Hotel by APA, or online at www.unitedwaynbc.ca/uwtreeoflights/.
To find out more information, to become a sponsor, or to donate to this initiative, please contact email@example.com or 250-561-1040. Follow the event on Facebook and Instagram @uwtreeoflights.
United Way of Northern BC aims to improve lives by expanding capacity to harness the caring power for people in Northern BC. UWNBC positively affects 1 in 3 people through their impact work in the region; empowering other non-profit agencies, engaging with community partners and multiple levels, advocating the unique needs of the Northern BC region, engaging in the Day of Caring initiatives, and providing funding to other non-profits through their Community Investment and Impact Program.