In the photo above (left to right) are Tyler Chick, board chair of the OSNS Legacy Foundation; Nicole MacMillan and Jillian Dhaliwal of the Stawarz Family, local owner/operators of the Tim Hortons South Okanagan; and Megan Windeler, philanthropy associate for the OSNS Legacy Foundation. (Logan Lockhart - Western News)

In the photo above (left to right) are Tyler Chick, board chair of the OSNS Legacy Foundation; Nicole MacMillan and Jillian Dhaliwal of the Stawarz Family, local owner/operators of the Tim Hortons South Okanagan; and Megan Windeler, philanthropy associate for the OSNS Legacy Foundation. (Logan Lockhart - Western News)

Owners of Tim Hortons South Okanagan make historic pledge to Penticton’s OSNS Legacy Foundation

The OSNS Share a Smile Telethon is this Sunday, Nov. 28 from 4 to 7 p.m.

When the Stawarz family toured the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre in Penticton, the decision on making a financial commitment to the centre was easy.

In fact, the decision was so easy that instead of donating the original amount of $100,000, the family who owns Tim Hortons locations in the South Okanagan instead pledged $250,000 to OSNS’ newly launched Legacy Foundation.

The donation, announced on Monday, will help treat thousands of children with developmental challenges every year. And for Paul Stawarz, owner-operator of Tim Hortons South Okanagan, making the pledge was a no-brainer.

“After having one of our most successful Smile Cookie campaigns, we have decided to continue our commitment to OSNS,” he said. “Our family toured the treatment centre in Penticton and saw first hand the fantastic clinicians in action. Realizing there is a waiting list for families to access support, we knew we need to participate in its continued growth.”

In the eyes of the executive director at OSNS, Manisha Willms, the pledge from the Stawarz family is a game-changer that will help kids get treated earlier than later.

“We do have long-standing waiting lists for kids,” Willms said. “So there will be children who are diagnosed with difficulties and yet, they just can’t access (treatment). One of the things we know as an organization is that early intervention matters.

“If we don’t get to kids quickly when they’re young, it’s difficult to catch up.”

The OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre treated 1,600 children in 2020 from Summerland to Osoyoos and Penticton.

As waiting lists across the province get longer, the OSNS Legacy Foundation is set on responding quickly. Right now, the centre says that there’s enough funding for treatment services, but not enough for getting the wait times down.

“OSNS recognized a long-standing need to respond from unacceptable waiting times for children with diagnosed development challenges,” said Tyler Chick, board chair at the OSNS Legacy Foundation. “The government plays an important role in providing funding for the centre but does not fully fund treatment services.”

With the pledge from the Stawarz family, the Legacy Foundation is hoping to create sustainability and implement parent programs so that the wait times will become smaller and the quality of the services will only get better.

As for the owners of Tim Hortons South Okanagan, the family learned a lot about pediatric rehab centres when they first walked around the OSNS, even more than they expected.

“There’s a lot of things that we thought we knew but we didn’t actually know,” said Nicole MacMillan, the daughter of the aforementioned Stawarz and owner-operator of Tim Hortons South Okanagan. “Coming in here and realizing that there was a waitlist, that’s really what kind of took us over the edge.”

But it’s not just the actual treatment programs that the Stawarz family wants to make sure is secure for years to come — it’s the essential expenses that every building in the country has to deal with when operating, like electricity and air conditioning.

“Not only are you paying the clinicians in order to help the children, but to have power in the building…I think that also really impacted us,” MacMillan added.

READ MORE: Over $39K raised for OSNS through South Okanagan Smile Cookie campaign

“From the second we walked into the building and we read the mission statement that was on the wall and we met people like Manisha and got to see these fantastic clinicians in their element, as well seeing the children, honestly it brought tears to all of our eyes,” recalled Nicole MacMillan, operator of Tim Hortons.

MacMillan and her sister Jillian Dhaliwal told the Penticton Western News that their parents always instilled in them from a very young age to give back to the community.

“As a family, we are just so dedicated.”

The Legacy Foundation has set the goal of raising $10 million in five years and with the pledge from the Stawarz family, the centre says that services will be secured for years to come.

The OSNS Share a Smile online auction is underway and the Telethon is Sunday, Nov. 28, from 4 to 7 p.m. It will be virtual again this year and broadcast by Shaw Spotlight.

Tim Hortons’ Smile Cookie campaign took place from Sept. 13 to 19, with 100 per cent of the proceeds to go back to the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre.

READ MORE: OSNS chosen charity for 2021 Tim Hortons Smile Cookie campaign

To contact the OSNS Legacy Foundation and to learn more about the work they do in the South Okanagan, visit osnslegacyfoundation.org


@lgllockhart
logan.lockhart@pentictonwesternnews.com

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