Coldstream Women’s Institute Donates $50,000 to VJHF Digital Mammography Campaign
With a longstanding history of community service, the Coldstream Women’s Institute (CWI) is leaving a legacy that will highlight their remarkable presence in the North Okanagan. It all began in 1931, when a group of local women established a branch of Women’s Institute in Coldstream, to provide rural women and families with home management and leadership skills, develop friendships, encourage community cohesion, and initiate charitable activities.
Two years later, CWI built its community hall on Kalamalka Road. For more than 80 years, it was a gathering place for the community, filled with celebrations of weddings, baby showers, bazaars, educational and recreational activities for Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, Christmas parties and community teas. CWI members offered catering services for receptions, banquets and dances and to fund the operation of the hall, but offered it free of charge to non-profit organizations and for community functions.
Over the years, hundreds of women served as CWI members, however their membership now sits at 14. CWI has seen a decline in membership as younger women are not volunteering in the same way as previous generations. Unable to continue with the upkeep of the community hall, CWI sold the building to the District of Coldstream in early 2014.
Several local charities have benefitted from the legacy of the hall, including the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation, which received $50,000 from the sale of the building. The funds are designated to the Foundation’s “Take a Picture” campaign to purchase a Digital Mammography unit for VJH, serving women in the North Okanagan, Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Shuswap, Nakusp and Lake Country.
It’s likely the building will be demolished, but the friendships and memories forged within the walls will remain and the dedication of CWI members will endure.
Although smaller in numbers, CWI members now gather in living rooms, as they continue to establish friendships, provide education to women in our community and raise funds for charities such as North Okanagan Hospice Society, the Vernon Food Bank, Community Mental Health, Therapeutic Riding (NOTRA) and the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation.