MLA Leonard speaks about YANA in the Legislature

Today, MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard spoke about YANA (You are not alone) in the Legislature. You can read the transcript below, or watch the video here.

As we know, it is National Volunteer Week. I would like to highlight just one of the volunteer organizations in Courtenay-Comox that operates with an awfully huge heart: YANA. It stand stands for You Are Not Alone.

It was founded in 1986 by Sandra Williams, after her family’s journey with the grief of separation as it dealt with their daughter Roberta’s health problems, which took her far away to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. She and her family and friends were determined to help others, in the belief that when a child is ill, the whole family needs care.

Fast-forward to today. Sandra is gone, but a strong board of volunteers and only two part-time staff, Marcie Dumais and Ocean Varney, continue to grow YANA beyond expectations. Last year they helped 161 local families, up 28 percent over the year before, with nearly 400 medical stays in their four fully furnished apartments close to Children’s Hospital or in accommodation funded in Victoria, Nanaimo and elsewhere.

At this year’s jam-packed annual fundraiser, the Big Love benefit, one family’s story was highlighted. This family suffered the loss of their first-born and subsequently had twins that also needed medical care away. Sadly, one of the twins didn’t make it. But after seven months, always together, both parents brought home a healthy child — a long, tough journey made bearable with YANA’s support.

In the past 30-plus years, You Are Not Alone has been there for thousands of such families, with accommodation and an allowance for living expenses, thanks to the hundreds of volunteers and our very generous community. Many of its volunteers have themselves been helped by YANA, proving that giving brings its own gifts.