A commentary by the public and government affairs director of the Salvation Army’s B.C. Division.
In extraordinary times like this, primary concerns preoccupy our minds. We consider the most basic of human needs: health, food security, finances, employment.
We forget that these concerns are typical parts of daily life year-round for many in poverty. Families struggle to make rent payments and put food on the table. Men, women and youth fighting addictions and mental-health issues have constant challenges that most of us could not imagine.
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When times are hard for the most blessed of us, it may seem hopeless to the already compromised. The recent rush of shopping and stockpiling was witnessed by many without the ability to provide for themselves or their families on an average day, let alone in preparation for unforeseen times.
That is why the Salvation Army’s slogan “Giving Hope Today” is a message embraced by those needing a helping hand. Essential services continue to be offered in Victoria, with doors still revolving from individuals coming for emergency food boxes or for a safe, warm place to sleep.
The Salvation Army’s Addictions and Rehabilitation Centre provides beds and shelter for 150 men of all ages every night, 365 days a year. Six hundred meals a day are prepared and served. Three days weekly, people homeless or experiencing difficult times are served nourishment at community meals, with service at present modified to take-out not in-house. Dishes the Red Seal chef, Sean, creates from the largely donated food provide sustenance for those who depend on the service for a few good meals each week.
Yes — donated food resources. Only by the generosity and compassion of the public and businesses are those most vulnerable in our city able to be cared for through the services of the Salvation Army. But present donations are down.
A few weeks ago, a donated pick-up would fill half a van — now it might be three bags of groceries. We are a caring community together — as the saying goes, it takes a village. The hearts in our community are big, and the Salvation Army is grateful to be able to be a part of the transfer of kindness and care.
The Addictions and Rehabilitation Centre also offers many essential supportive programs throughout the year, offered to individuals according to their needs. Writing resumes and seeking employment, responsible tenancy, anger management, cooking healthy meals, overcoming addictions, brain-injury support groups, emotional and spiritual counselling, and family tracing are all services offered at the centre.
Over on the corner of Quadra and Hillside, another Salvation Army building is situated in an area abounding with young families, seniors and singles.
The Stan Hagen Centre for Families is a source of hope, meeting the needs of many with the basics of food, clothing and household items. Emergency food hampers and food staples are distributed daily.
I will never forget the sight of a father pulling a little red wagon with his tiny daughter sitting in it, clutching a bag of freshly donated groceries, as they wheeled away down the sidewalk.
Emergency clothing and household goods can still be accessed at the thrift stores.
Programs offered such as free computer literacy classes, cashier training and counselling are being adjusted to fit the times. Hundreds of kids will still receive back-to-school backpacks in the fall and toys at Christmas. In summer, children can attend camps, many for the first time, and for a short while can escape difficult circumstances and just be a kid. The annual Times Colonist Christmas Fund donations, and many other charitable partners in the city, make this happen.
At Christmas, giving is top of mind. The generosity received at that time is carefully spread throughout the year to ensure sustained provision of essential services for those in need, However, it is at times of crisis when the genuine character of a community shines, when opportunities to care are most present.
Coming together to be there for each other, “with a little help from our friends,” in whichever way we are able brings joy to the hearts of both the giver and receiver, continuing the beat of hope in our midst. We thank you in advance for continued support during these challenging times.
HOW TO DONATE
Tax receipts will be issued.
• Online: rapidrelieffund.ca
• Phone: 250-381-5532
• Mail: Send cheques to the Victoria Foundation at #200-703 Broughton St., Victoria, B.C., V8W 1E2
Please ensure cheques are made out to the Victoria Foundation. Note the ‘Rapid Relief Fund’ in the memo line or in a cover letter. If you are open to receiving your tax receipt by PDF, please include an email address with your donation.