Much more can be achieved when people come together.
Navigating life’s challenges on your own can feel hands-down overwhelming. And, haven’t we all felt the pressure in some way over the last couple of years?
It’s nice to know there are non-profit organizations out there like WOW, Women of Oliver for Women, who work together to make life a little easier not only for women but also for their families.
Whether you’re new to the community and want to join the camaraderie of like-minded ladies on a mission to do good in the community or need some support yourself, WOW may be just the group to get involved with.
What Is WOW?
It started in 2004 when the Soroptimist International of the Americas group in Oliver voted to regroup as a local community-based organization.
Empowering Women & Families
“Our mission statement is to enrich the lives of women and children in our community and beyond,” said WOW President, Sheryll Matheson.
But it isn’t just women that WOW helps.
“Everyone in the community benefits because we give to the Oliver Food Bank, Desert Sun Counselling, Sun Fun for children to attend camps with Parks & Rec, Air Cadets, and Highway to Healing,” explained Julia Munro, WOW member and Chair of the Education Award Committee.
Helping Young Women & School Programs
WOW has also given funds to the South Okanagan Senior Secondary daycare which assists single mothers to continue their education. For two years, WOW has helped purchase equipment for the playground.
They have also given to school groups for educational field trips focused on building teamwork or increasing communication skills.
“Different groups will make an application and then we say yes or no, depending on whether or not it meets the criteria,” said Munro.
“It must benefit the community or people who will improve the community or give back to the community in some way,” Munro continued. “For instance, a woman who needs an education award to help her finish school. She’s going to get a better job; she’s going to be a better mother. That lifts the whole family up.”
Funding also went to the Small Wheels Park program, a state-of-the-art skateboard park located in Lion’s Park where kids of all ages practice tricks on skateboards, scooters, and BMX bikes.
Education Awards & Bursaries
Each year, WOW gives a Women of Oliver Education Award (worth $1,000) to a female who is working to get better training to support their family, as well as a $500 South Okanagan Senior Secondary bursary to a young woman coming out of grade 12 who is going to college or university.
The great thing is that the Women of Oliver Education Award is available to women of all ages provided they meet the criteria.
“We’ve given [the award] to a woman in her 50s because she still had children at home and had a job lined up for when she finished,” said Munro. “It gave her additional life-long skills.”
Another award went to a woman who had lost her husband and was caring for her neurologically divergent child.
“She had enrolled in the Education Assistant Program and had a job lined up at the end of it,” said Munro.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding during the pandemic, the award was not given out in 2021 and 2022. WOW is hopeful that it will be given out again in 2023.
Providing Community Service
WOW also devotes much time to community service including weeding the gardens at McKinney Place, cleaning up Oliver, and helping at the Sunnybank Retirement Centre teas.
If you got a COVID vaccine in Oliver, then you likely met one of the WOW volunteers upon arrival who handed you a mask and asked a series of COVID screening questions.
“We did over 1000 hours of volunteer work in the vaccination clinic between March 2021 and February 2022”, said Munro.
“We weren’t giving injections, but we were monitoring people for 15 minutes after their injection, giving out information, and guiding them through the system.”
How WOW Generates Funds
WOW generates its funding mainly through two avenues:
They host an annual Trade Show in March at the Oliver Community Centre where businesses can showcase and sell their wares from knitted goods and jewelry to health products and professional services such as massage therapy. The trade show is open to both men and women-owned businesses.
“It’s an opportunity for people to showcase their wares,” said Munro. “People give a donation at the door. Vendors pay for their table and space. We usually make quite a bit of money at that.”
The Swinging Skirts Golf Tournament, which was held at Nk’Mip Desert Canyon Golf Course, was also a significant fundraiser. Unfortunately, the popular tournament is not happening this year due to some recent changes in sponsorship. Would WOW organize an event like it again? Yes! Absolutely.
If any businesses or organizations want to sponsor an event, like the golf tournament, the ladies are gung-ho to organize and work it. All they request is a portion of the proceeds to help the WOW cause.
Other Funding Efforts
In the meantime, WOW is looking for other ways to generate income including holding BBQs where they sell hot dogs and hamburgers. They also accept donations at the bottle depot and MyNR Reward Points at Buy-Low Foods.
Another easy way to donate is by saving up Buy-Low Foods receipts. Just put them in an envelope labeled WOW to the attention of Sharon, bring it into the Oliver Buy-Low Foods, and they will donate gift cards to the cause. WOW will then convert the card into cash and put it towards supporting a community resource.
Many women have been positively impacted by WOW, including volunteers of all ages and walks of life who want to give back to their community by helping women and their children.
For anyone wanting to get involved, there are many opportunities to interact including monthly meetings, events, and a get-together every June for a year-end celebration.
“A couple of my best friends, I met through WOW,” said Munro. “There’s camaraderie, you can meet people and make friends. We’ve done fun things together!”
Currently, WOW consists of 18 volunteers. They are always happy to welcome new volunteers of all ages to the crew.
To make a donation to WOW, you can send an e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nk’Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course
Check out their calendar of events to see what’s up this season!
Nk’Mip is a full-length championship golf course that has grown into a world-class golf facility. Owned and operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band, this golf course expanded from a relaxed nine-hole course to a championship model in 2001.
Despite tumbling across a variety of elevation changes, the golf course is easy to walk and provides stunning valley views. GolfPass names Nk’Mip as one of the 25 hidden gem golf courses in Canada!
Whether you’re a golfer or not, come enjoy a scrumptious meal and bevvy and enjoy the view at the Rattlesnake Lounge. View menu!