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What is your position/title and company, and what do you do there?
Susan Byrom, Executive Director, Community Investment and First West Foundation

As Executive Director, I provide strategic leadership to the First West Foundation and community investment at Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union. This includes our social vision—Lead Well—employee and community engagement programs, Simple Generosity, and our Signature Cause hunger program, Feed the Valley.

What is your connection to the Y?
First West Foundation and the Valley First Community Endowment have been proud to partner with the YMCA of Okanagan and its Young Parents Program since 2017.

Why does Valley First and the First West Foundation support your local Y?
The Y is a trusted partner in the community providing services and programs for all ages—from our littles to our older adults. We’re proud to financially support Y programming and lend our expertise—and our enthusiasm! We’ve been thrilled to invest over 250 hours of volunteer time knitting and sewing baby blankets for infants and toddlers in the Y’s Young Parents Program; our business banking advisers have lent their expertise with financial literacy training for youth; and our employees enjoy lacing up their sneakers to participate in the Cycle for Strong Kids ride. The Y not only offers a variety of well-being, physical and mental health programs, but welcomes our support in helping them, help our community. That’s something we can get behind!

What do you think are the biggest issues facing our community?
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been significant and continue to be felt all across our community. At First West Foundation, we’ve seen an increase in requests for support of food programs, counseling, and—for the sector itself—financial support for operating costs to keep services and programs available for those in need. The charitable sector, our local businesses, and community are rallying together to help. It’s very inspiring to see the breadth of support rise when it’s needed most.

How do you feel the Y helps those in need?
The Y, its team and leadership, do an outstanding job providing programs that grow with each of us. I love that a young child can begin their relationship with the Y at a tender age in childcare. Then throughout their life they can always have an organization where they will have quality, caring programs designed to help them thrive well into adulthood.

What are you personally looking forward to/planning for the future?
Hugs. I’m looking forward to hugs. I miss them.