United Way’s launches community building program “Hi Neighbour” in Esquimalt

United Way Greater Victoria (UWGV) has launched a community builder program called Hi Neighbour in Esquimalt to provide support and critical services to seniors, people living with a disability, people living in poverty, single parents, and people with mental health concerns.

Funding for this program comes from a $600,000 donation to the United Way from Seaspan and Southern Railway of British Columbia, with The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, to support eight neighbourhoods in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the Hi Neighbour program, UWGV will uncover unseen vulnerabilities in Esquimalt and connect those needing services and support. UWGV team member Kelly Binette will lead the program, working with residents and community leaders to identify needs and empower neighbours to deliver support to those in their community.

Seaspan, a long-standing supporter of UWGV and the local community, is encouraging its employees to volunteer and to get involved throughout the program.

Hi Neighbour Esquimalt will launch by gathering ideas from residents on the community projects they feel would have the most impact. Residents can expect to see a postcard in their mailboxes over the upcoming weeks about the program. UWGV will fund up to 15 micro-grants by September 30, 2020, for community projects that show “local love” to support and strengthen the neighbourhood at this unprecedented time. Residents have until July 15 to email their ideas to

“I am thankful that the donation from Seaspan and Southern Railway, in conjunction with the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, will enable the United Way to support the Esquimalt community in this critical time of need.” says Joe O’Rourke, Vice President and General Manager, Seaspan Victoria Shipyards. “COVID-19 has thrown us all a curve ball in 2020, bringing a new set of stresses and hurdles to overcome. Our team of over 1,200 in Victoria is looking forward to supporting this program and helping United Way make a positive impact in Esquimalt during this unprecedented time.”

“When launching Hi Neighbour we want citizens to know everyone has a voice and all are welcome to co-create what they never imagined possible in their community. Every neighbourhood deserves the opportunity to flourish and no matter what issues a community faces there are local solutions,” says Mark Breslauer, CEO of UWGV. “We are here to listen and learn and partner with the residents, businesses, community groups, and the Township of Esquimalt as to what the community needs and how we can co-create solutions.”

“This initiative not only aligns with several of our strategic priorities, it is also a perfect example of one of the diverse ways the United Way supports our community. Esquimalt residents value their neighbours and community and this project is a natural extension of the connectedness we already feel,” says Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins. “It is wonderful to see this emphasis on collecting ideas from our residents and businesses directly for a unique approach that is tailored to the Township. Council and I are grateful to the United Way and to the funding donors, Seaspan, Southern Railway and The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, for contributing to our community.”