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News & Media

May 12, 2020

United Way receives $600,000 from Seaspan, Southern Railway of British Columbia, and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation

Funds will provide support and services to the most vulnerable members of the community who are at even greater risk due to COVID-19

In response to the urgent needs of B.C.’s most vulnerable citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic, Seaspan and Southern Railway, with the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, are donating $600,000 to the United Way to support neighbourhoods in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. These funds will be used to provide support and critical services to seniors, people living with a disability, people living in poverty, single parents, people with mental health concerns, among others.

“Seaspan and Southern Railway are deeply committed to the communities where we operate and where our employees live,” said Kyle Washington, Executive Chairman of Seaspan. “Care is an important value across the Washington companies and the Foundation. Now more than ever our neighbours are in critical need of support. This donation is meant to support innovative programming that has significant impact.”

As a result of this gift, United Way will launch a Community Builder Program in eight neighbourhoods connecting those who are most in need to support where they live, including micro-grants to provide community connections for neighbourhoods and funding to service agencies through COVID-19 relief grants. The initial eight hubs will be activated on the North Shore, Squamish Nation, New Westminster, Delta, Abbotsford and Victoria/Esquimalt.

The $600,000 donation includes a $150,000 matching challenge. For every dollar Seaspan and Southern Railway employees and partners and United Way donors contribute, the Foundation will match up to $150,000. This will expand the Community Builder hubs to five more areas that have been most impacted by COVID-19, bringing the total number of neighbourhoods receiving support from this initiative to 13 across the province. Contributions to the donation matching challenge can be made going here to the United Way’s dedicated donation page.

“I am humbled and heartened by the leadership frontline workers, who are staring COVID-19 in the face every day, have been demonstrating, with strength and selflessness. These challenging times remind us all of the importance of a strong and supportive community with neighbours helping neighbours,” said Mark Lamarre, CEO, Seaspan Shipyards. “On behalf of Seaspan and our sister company Southern Railway, we’re grateful to have a strong United Way partnership to rely on that gets immediate and direct help to those most in need.”

“This extraordinary gift from Seaspan, Southern Railway, and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, allows us to immediately put money and resources where they are needed now,” said Michael McKnight, President and CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “Starting today, and over the next five months, these critical funds will allow United Way to support hundreds of thousands of people across 13 neighborhoods in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. That is a meaningful impact.”

Seaspan is a pioneer of the marine industry in B.C. and Canada, and one of most well-known and visible companies in the province. Seaspan is the largest manufacturer in BC with a highly skilled and dedicated workforce of more than 3,500, and operations in coastal communities including North Vancouver, Delta and Esquimalt. Seaspan marine vessels and operations are landmarks on our waters and shores.

Southern Railway of British Columbia is a major transporter of freight in British Columbia. Based in New Westminster and Abbotsford, SRY safely delivers the best rail solutions to local businesses and customers throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, and Vancouver Island, providing them with seamless rail connections to international and North American markets.

The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation is the major philanthropic organization for The Washington Companies and the Washington family. Funding for the Foundation comes from the profits of The Washington Companies and personal contributions from the Washington Family. Since its inception in 1988, the Foundation’s mission has remained unchanged – helping the most vulnerable realize their full potential.

Community Supporters:

Jonathan X. Coté, Mayor, City of New Westminster
“I’m so pleased that New Westminster has been selected as one of the first community hubs to benefit from the Community Builder Program. Thank you to Seaspan, Southern Railway, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and United Way of the Lower Mainland for supporting our local organizations during this difficult time and helping lift up our community as we go through this crisis.”

Henry Braun, Mayor, City of Abbotsford
“The Local Love Community Builder program will help deliver much needed support to vulnerable people in Abbotsford. On behalf of the City of Abbotsford, we appreciate the generosity of Seaspan, Southern Railway, The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and United Way of the Lower Mainland to help provide this swift and needed support to our community.”

Linda Buchanan, Mayor, City of North Vancouver
“Our community has seen unprecedented challenges as a result of this pandemic, but we have also seen unprecedented levels of community spirit, hope, civic engagement, and generosity. With this funding communities will be better equipped to support the needs of the most vulnerable in our community. On behalf of the City of North Vancouver I would like to thank Seaspan, Southern Railway and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation for their generosity.”