E. Ann Berens
Submitted to The Record
Among the many individuals in the Comox Valley who enhance the wellbeing of our community, Vicki Vanderhorst stands out in her focus on promoting peace, understanding, and compassion.
Since childhood, Vicki was drawn to living in other cultures. She attended Friends World College, which promotes peace through understanding. She lived and volunteered in different cultures including a year in a small African village where no one spoke English.
She was greatly impacted after hearing the Dalai Lama speak of the Tibetan refugees’ escape to India.
Every three years since 2005, Vicki has spent several months teaching English to nuns and monks in the Dalai Lama’s home, Dharamsala, India.
While there, she gained permission to attend his teachings “that peace is the way to peace, that sustaining enmity with others is not going to move us closer to that for which we all long: a peaceful, secure place to live. As we develop respect and understanding for others, we create peace in our communities.”
Vicki established a charity, Simple Gifts, after her first trip to Dharamsala.
One of the nuns told her about the impoverished Tibetan Buddhist children not going to school because they lacked the $10 a month fee.
Since that time eight children and four nuns have been sponsored, including one nun receiving medical care for her deafness. Family care packages with toothbrushes, socks, paper, pens, and warm clothes were also sent to the villagers.
While pursuing these interests, Vicki discovered Unity, a positive path to spiritual living which honours the wisdom in all faith traditions and respects the sacred value of all life. She pursued this path which allowed her to continue her interests and be part of a spiritual community.
As minister of Unity Comox Valley since 2009, she initiated the annual Interfaith Celebration of Peace, bringing different faiths together to emphasize the importance of mutual understanding and partnership. Through Unity Comox Valley more than twenty local non-profit programs have been supported.
In such ways, Vicki’s compassion and commitment continue to affect others far from our island.