Centra Cares Has Been Busy This Year!

Centra Cares has been BUSY this year! We have worked hard  to help as many charities as possible and we feel that the results are nothing short of AMAZING! Check out this month’s update on what we have been working on over the past few months:

Red Cross Relief-Fort McMurray

When images of fire burning through Fort McMurray filled our television sets we knew that we needed to help. Centra Cares immediately went to work raising funds to put towards the Red Cross relief efforts.

Centra’s manufacturing team raised a grand total of $376.25 all on their own. In addition, Centra Cares foundation donated an additional $10,000 to aid the Red Cross in managing the disaster relief efforts and fund in conjunction with the Federal & Provincial Governments.

With the commitment of the Federal Government to match donations, our total donation came to: $20,752.50!

Blind Beginnings


Blind Beginnings is a BC based organization that aids in helping youth and parents who are blind or partially sighted to participate in unique opportunities to develop skills, challenge limits and achieve their full potential! Centra Cares couldn’t think of a better organization to contribute to, and as such this past June we donated $1000!

La Semila Ministries


La Semila Ministries is an organization based in Nicaragua working to reach numerous families within the local community by teaching them sustainable living and developing viable agricultural and business plans. They also work to mentor individuals and to introduce them to the Gospel. La Semila and Centra partners together once a year for an annual trip to Nicaragua to aid in their mission – but we also wanted to help them through additional funding. This year we donated $5,000 to aid in the continuing of their ministry!

Hope Haven Guatemala


Hope Haven Guatemala’s mission is to aid those in international countries, to assist them in overcoming their disabilities, and providing them with sustainable means of housing, independent living and social welfare. Centra’s $5,000 donation will assist in continuing their mission of distributing wheelchairs, installing solar lighting systems and building homes.

Centra Windows’ generous gift to NOW Canada Society

When NOW Canada Society asked Centra Windows to come and provide a quote for replacing the windows in one of their safe homes, they were not prepared for what came next!

Based in Kelowna since 1998, NOW is a non-profit organization that provides a variety of housing and programs for women, youth and children who are vulnerable and at-risk.


“This safe house was built in the 1960’s and its windows were well past their sell-by date” says Liz Talbott, Executive Director.  “We knew we needed new windows so wanted to get a quote to know how much money we had to go about raising”.

Chad Guidi, Kelowna Sales Estimator from Centra Windows met with NOW Canada staff and after seeing the society’s need, took the issue back to the Centra team.  Guidi says “I was happy to help NOW Canada as I am involved with the youth metal health programs in Kelowna, so this particular job held a special spot close to my heart.”  This resulted in Centra donating all the windows, screens and the front door to the society, and the installers generously donated their time to install the windows.


Garett Wall, President & CEO says: “We’ve been in business for over 30 years in BC. One of the things we learned early on is that success in business means you can’t take without giving back. Being a good corporate citizen is more than just creating jobs, it’s about supporting the communities in which we operate. You have to connect with community and find ways to align and support it. There are many individuals and groups who rely on donations and support from business to fill in the gaps for government funding or to support increasing competition from charitable organizations”.

That’s where organizations like Centra can make a difference, whether it’s communities in need with a donation of sorts or a charitable organization in need of new windows or restoration work.

“At Centra we’re very proud of our people and culture, because giving is at the heart of who we are. Giving at Centra’s isn’t about writing cheques, it’s about the giving of time and resources of Centra employee owners to be able to contribute something more than just money, it’s important for us to ensure our communities understand that Centra does care, and so the name of our recently launched foundation in 2015, Centra Cares. We couldn’t be more proud to support the Now Canada Society and the good work they do.”

“Such kindness should not go unrecognized” say Liz Talbott, “NOW Canada is truly grateful to the wonderful folk at Centra Windows.   NOW wishes to thank the generosity of Garett Wall, Ed Vandermeer, Anton Van Dyk and the fabulous installers Darren, Jamie, Peter, Kyle, Sam, Rick, Bryan.  A special ‘thank you’ to Chad – for recognizing the need and for making this happen.”


Liz Talbott, Executive Director

NOW Canada Society

Nicaragua: Project Complete and Reflection

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Wow, our team managed to complete everything we were tasked to do, and then some (minus a couple rooms of electrical). This was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever been a part of. I strangely loved the grueling work and getting my hands dirty, especially in mixing cement. I also got to happily engrave ‘Centra 2015” in the concrete walk way. It was incredible to see all the children around us every day, taking the shovels out of our hands and wanting to help. Even with the language barrier, we could tell they were so happy we were there and wanted to help us. It felt so great knowing Centra was a part of this clinic project that will help many people for years to come when complete in early 2016.

It is crazy how fast and stressful  life can be sometimes for us here in Canada.  Being in Nicaragua reminded me that sometimes, one just needs to slow down and appreciate the things that matter the most; the love and support of family and the community around you. I envy the Nicaraguans ability to adapt and be resourceful in a simplistic life, with little to no technology or machinery, as they know no other way.  Even though they do not have access to an abundance of food or water (two things that we take for granted every day), they are so happy and always greeted us every day with smiles on their faces and let us into their homes to just look and see what it was like to live there. Wally and Esther with La Semilla Ministries are so inspiring, and what they do in Nicaragua helped me really appreciate life in a whole different way. I am very grateful to John for including me on this trip.

Jessica O’Brien


Nicaragua: Why you need to be There

20151106_085638When going on a trip like this you often get people asking you, “Why don’t you just send money down to these people instead of spending part of it on a flight and accommodations for yourself? Also aren’t you taking work away from the local people?”. Possibly at first thought you may agree, wouldn’t my money go further if I didn’t have to buy a flight and food? Am I actually taking away from these people by going down myself?

Anyone can tell you donating your money to a good cause is a great idea but until you experience what it is you are donating to, there will always be a level of doubt about your choice to give your hard earned money to people you’ve never met.  This is where being “there” (wherever “there” may be”) starts to answer and change the whole question.

Think if someone were to mail you money to go out for lunch by yourself versus that same person coming to your house, knocking on your door and taking you out for lunch and paying your bill. Which do you think is going to impact your life more as the person on the receiving side? Also, as the giver which do you think is going to be more meaningful and lasting experience? So obviously having someone take time out of their life to come and do something for you, even as simple as play soccer or build a medical facility, is going to affect you in a greater way.

But wait what about those poor people and the work you are taking away from them? As North American’s it is hard for us to imagine the reality that 80% of the world is living in. We assume everyone has a nice house, a car to go here and there, extra money to buy Starbucks, but this just isn’t the case. These are people who work to afford food and not much else. They are often walking miles to get fresh water, food or to get to the main road so they can take a bus to town where these things are available. There is very little luxury in their lives. You find very quickly that you want to work but they want to help even more.  By working alongside them you are showing new ways of building or even just seeing life and in no way taking away from them.

By going on trips like this with Centra, I have seen the power of being there versus just sending my money. The people, your money is helping, get to put a face and name to the help they are receiving. As well as the fact, that a person would take time out of their life, away from their family and money out of their pocket to help, gives them encouragement and value. Being there, experiencing what it looks like day to day for them, seeing all the amazing areas of strength, happiness and success they have and being able to add to that in a small way is immeasurable. These people who often don’t travel farther than their own village or possibly the next village know very little of the outside world and being able to bring part of it to them so they can move toward a life of more than just survival is a wonderful thing.  We all need to feel valued in life or what’s the point in fighting through the hard times.

Organizations like La Semilla Ministries need monetary help but almost more than that need people to come share in the work and education for local communities to have long term growth in these areas. It was an honor to travel down to Nicaragua. With access to medical help many of these people will be able to live more full life and through the continued work of La Semilla Ministries they will also gain access to work and food to further their lives.

Aaron Stockton

Nicaragua : Making Progress

Today we had a great day of production on the clinic!  The concrete crew poured 75 % of the sidewalks, The interior wall crew are almost done the walls and the roof crew completed framing and installed 50 % of the metal roofing.

Carl stood on the peak celebrating as Jer installed the last screw!  It has been quite humid the last two days but all the crew continued to push hard for a timely completion; Centra Cares Baby! 😉

I am very proud of how all the crew have worked so hard. The school kids from the neighborhood are always hanging around and trying to help; they like nothing better than to be allowed to contribute. As soon as they are finished they run back to their friends just beaming with pride that they got to help.

All the people are so friendly here. We are always greeted with a smile. After we wrapped up today one of the LaSemilla staff took us on a walk thru the village and asked if we could see a farmers farm. We were granted a full guided tour. He was very proud of what he has accomplished.

If it doesn’t rain he packs water in on his back! There is no machinery involved. It is hand sowed and the crop is taken off by hand as well. It is then packed up the hill. We were all rather breathless by the time we walked back up the hill. The farmer does this everyday. We could see that its a constant job trying to keep the jungle at bay, lest it take over his land. This farmer works with LaSemilla and their crop assistance plan.

Overall it was a great day. Its difficult to narrow it down to a few words what we experience each day, there are so many!


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Jeff Foster

Nicaragua Day 5: “Human Backhoe”


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The alarm goes off and it is time to get up and start our fourth day in Nicaragua.  My years of education in Canada to become a Chartered Accountant has landed me the starting job as the human backhoe in Nicaragua (irony at its finest no?)

My first responsibility was to dig a five foot hole for the septic.  One of the local moms observing brought over her daughters to help… before I knew it they had bumped me out of my job and were digging at a much faster pace!

Looking for a new job I was quickly appointed as a landscaper to clear all the debris and weeds for grass and a sidewalk.  By this time, a few local children had gathered around as our work site is on a school property for children up to grade six. They were all so eager to help out!

To show my appreciation I handed out some candy…and boy did that start something! Before I knew it we had children from everywhere eager to help out.  Looking for work again I was then appointed to use my first power tool to drill bolts onto the galvanized steel for the roof, my use of this tool eventually led to me (using for the first time) a skill saw.

The excitement and challenge of learning new things is amazing but what I have found to be the most amazing is the warmth and friendliness of the Nicaraguans. Everyone I have met has been very willing to allow us into their lives, to see their homes…and their pets! One family even had a baby monkey.

Their enthusiasm and willingness to help out is fantastic,  and these will be my fondest memories I take home with me. This is what makes it easy to get out of bed and get back to work no matter how hot it is or how much my body aches from being a “human backhoe”

Jeff Clarke



Nicaragua Day 4: Vertical Challenge


Big day today with a lot of productivity! The main roof structure is up with cross purlings going on.  The interior walls are taking shape and the bathroom and two medical rooms are compete.  With a few design changes we’ve modified the pharmacy  and added two more much needed medical rooms  With some challenges, Nathan was even able to get much of the wiring pulled through the conduit! Needless to say today was a success!

The school next door was in session today so we had a large number of interested kids peeking through the doors.  Many of them were eager to get involved and help.  As three of them joined me to cut the opening for the bathroom door, they stated to show a bit of interest in my size.  One was specifically memorized at the size of my shoes.  As time went on more kids came out.  Before you knew it they were all wanting to stand next to me! Some of the kids came up with a plan to “beat” my height, and soon there were buckets around me with kids standing on top of them. It was quite a site!

Anton Van Dyk


Nicaragua Day 3, Part 2: The Important Things

Today,  we went to start building the medical clinic in Nicaragua. I realized very quickly how bad my Spanish is and the only way I can interact with the locals is by saying a few words like “hola, como estas & gracias”.

The best part though? Running around with the young children. They are so excited to see technology like power tools, cameras, and safety equipment( like ear muffs and sunglasses that we are using to erect the galvanized steel roof structure.)

 We have gained a lot of headway already being only day 1 of work. Its really heart warming to think we are making a difference with the local economy and helping with better medical care.I really loved to see all of the kids smiling faces. It brings me alot of joy to help out this community of great people.

I feel I can learn a lot from them and how they live their lives. I can really sit back and see how much we have to be thankful of and learn we don’t really need all of the material things we have. Spending time with the people you love is so much more important.

Learning lots and continuing to make headway!

Jeremy Ross


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Nicaragua Day 3-Skittles, Human Jungle Gyms and more

Today we started the hospital project in Nicaragua. We are working on a site that shares property with a school, so there are tons of young children running around watching and are entertained by the new faces.

If you know me at all, you know I love kids; So this was quite exciting for me.

My go to move since we got here was to break the ice with skittles. I carry skittles with me because I am diabetic, and in case of a low blood sugar skittles work to pick me up quickly.  They also work well to connect with the kids.  Once I break the ice with skittles, they usually like piggy backs, being tossed in the air as high as possible, and basically treating me as a human jungle gym. If I could I would spend the entire day playing with the children, hearing their laughter warms my heart.

This is one of the young boys who I spent time today.Like the rest of them, he is pretty darn cute and the friendship we have started I hope to continue to build throughout the week and remember it for the rest of my life. How could you forget a face a like that!

-Jake Vandermeer