The Gratitude Project is happening in Kelowna all month long this October.
Through a series of events and activities, the project offers a chance for Kelownians to pause and show appreciation for the people they are thankful for in our community.
This year, organizers are putting a special focus on the Kelowna RCMP.
As organizer Alyssa Farr says on the Gratitude Project website, “the RCMP is made up of individuals like you and I. Everyday they do a job that few would want to do and risk their lives to protect the safety of our communities.”
“The RCMP and police officers in general have had a lot of really negative publicity this past year … so we really wanted to address some of the stigma that’s been building,” she said in an Oct. 12 interview.
To encourage Kelowna residents to show appreciation for the city’s mounties, project organizers have launched a sticker campaign, handing out stickers that help residents show their appreciation to the city’s first responders.
The stickers say “we support our first responders,” and organizers encourage Kelownians to slap them on their car, business or even home windows.
Farr says the stickers are a great way to show appreciation because they’re a highly visible and lasting statement.
“The officers know that those stickers are a sign of appreciations, and that kind of appreciation that lasts long term, because it’s visible,” she said.
Every officer can see them and know “that that person is in support of them, and their efforts.”
“I think that’s an amazing thing this group is doing to show appreciation in the community,” said RCMP Cst. Jesse O’Donaghey on the sticker campaign.
This year,the Gratitude Project is also highlighting a B.C. charity that supports first responders: through its website, and at some Gratitude Project events, organizers are encouraging people to donate to the Honour House Society.
The society provides a free-of-charge, temporary home for military veterans, first responders and their families if they have to travel to Vancouver for medical treatment or appointments.
“These brave men and women, along with their families, sacrifice so much to protect our freedom and our everyday way of life, each and every day. Honour House allows us the opportunity to show our support and appreciation for their selfless sacrifice,” the organization’s website reads.
O’Donaghey said the charity is a “fantastic support” for first responders, that can make a stressful situation a lot more bearable to deal with.
“It’s just one less thing for these first responders to have to worry about when dealing with something that is life-altering,” he said.
Along with promoting the charity, some Gratitude Projects events will encourage participants to donate, and the project website also provides links to the charity's donation page.