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Flood-torn communities of Fraser Valley to get $500K through United Way microgrants

Funding from Southern Railway, Washington Companies to aid in recovery, rebuilding
An injection of $500,000 will help microgrants through the United Way to thousands who experienced extreme flooding in Fraser Valley Indigenous communities, as well as farmers and migrant workers. (United Way British Columbia)

Fraser Valley families impacted by extreme flooding will see ongoing food, recovery and mental health needs addressed with a $500,000 grant from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, with Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY) and the Washington Companies.

The funds will be distributed with “Local Love” microgrants of up to $1,000 through the United for the Fraser Valley’s Community Re-builder Initiative.

“We are deeply committed to the communities where Southern Railway and Seaspan operate and where many of our employees live,” said Kyle Washington, executive chairman of Seaspan.

”The storms and floods in southern B.C. late last year have devastated the Fraser Valley region and left thousands of residents with the daunting task of rebuilding their homes, lives and businesses.”

The grants will support local unity and rebuilding efforts such as the transportation of food, household goods and essential items, and community gatherings to reduce isolation and improve wellbeing.

The “community re-builders” will be Abbotsford and Chilliwack residents who connect those in need with support resources and services.

“The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is proud to support the thousands of residents of the south coast of B.C. who have experienced extreme flooding. We hope that the availability of our financial resources administered through the United for the Fraser Valley Community Re-builder Initiative will help supply the necessary food, household goods and emergency supplies for affected residents,” said Mike Halligan, Executive Director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.

Mental health assistance for the farming and agricultural community will also be funded through these grants.

“I am incredibly grateful that SRY is part of the Washington Companies and that the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is able to make this donation to the United Way. I am proud to be part of a larger family that can offer help to rebuild lives and families in the Fraser Valley,” said Gerald Linden, president of Southern Railway of British Columbia.

In general the funds will be directed to “prioritized communities” including those of Indigenous peoples, farmers and migrant workers.

“This extraordinary gift from The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, in conjunction with Southern Railway and the Washington Companies, allows us to help Fraser Valley communities and residents affected by last fall’s floods,” said Michael McKnight, president and CEO of United Way British Columbia. “Over the next year, these funds will help thousands of residents to recover and rebuild their lives through a variety of programs and vital supports.”

Fraser Valley residents can apply for a Local Love microgrant at

RELATED: $6.6M in funding for United Way FV and LM

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Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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