Comment: Sooke Mayor Maja Tait on how Rapid Relief Fund has helped her town

A commentary by the mayor of Sooke.

The Sooke region received some uplifting news when word spread locally that the Sooke Food Bank had received a $40,000 cheque from the Rapid Relief Fund.

With demand for services beginning to soar and not likely to peak for who knows how long, it came at exactly the right time to ensure this long-standing and truly essential service provider can continue delivering monthly hampers of food to the region’s most vulnerable residents.

What a fantastic shot in the arm for Food Bank president Kim Metzger and her tremendously caring, hard-working volunteers.

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On behalf of them and all of us in Sooke, I’d like to thank all in Greater Victoria who have opened their hearts and wallets to donate more than $4 million to a growing array of local charities — Mustard Seed, the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, the Food Share Network and more.

As Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and View Royal Mayor David Screech have said in these pages, this outpouring of community support is hugely moving and inspiring. Like them, I urge you to continue giving what you can as the Victoria Foundation marches toward its next fundraising goal while weighing where else your dollars can best serve those in need.

It’s certainly been a remarkable and unprecedented month. In one teleconference after the next in my roles as Sooke’s mayor, a Capital Regional District director and as president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, I’ve witnessed unfailingly level-headed, strategic and empathetic leadership at the municipal, regional, provincial and federal levels.

I’m proud to be part of a community here in Sooke that has closely listened to the advice of Dr. Bonnie Henry and is taking all due cautionary measures to flatten what might otherwise be a wicked and deadly curve.

People are staying home. Businesses are following all the right protocols. We’re collectively hanging together while paradoxically staying apart as we settle into this unexpected new reality.

In these troubled times, I’m incredibly grateful to have a loving family at my side, a roof over our heads and food in the fridge. Not everyone is so fortunate, of course.

It feels like a lifetime ago, but just six weekends back I was one of several hundred participants in the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser on behalf of the Sooke Shelter Society. Its volunteers are dedicated to establishing a permanent shelter with matching support services for the unhoused in our region.

Last week, Sooke Shelter volunteers set up in our town centre with representatives from AVI Harm Reduction Services and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to provide solace and support to the homeless.

Swabs were offered for those who think they may have COVID-19. Naloxone kits and outdoor shelter supplies were distributed. Expert help was provided to sign up for income assistance and Persons with Disabilities support.

I’m also thinking of the Food Bank volunteers now driving door-to-door to deliver hampers. The Zumba instructors offered Skype lessons to the shut-ins at Ayre Manor Lodge.

The good people at Sheringham Distillery who have pivoted from making world-class gin to hand sanitizers for our Sooke Fire Rescue team and grocery store employees. The residents volunteering to help the isolated through the BC211 Safe Seniors, Strong Communities initiative (please dial 211 if you want to help).

The youngsters, like my own son Ewan, who are cutting out and plastering paper hearts in front windows.

Examples of this kind abound throughout the South Island. And how wonderful that all of us in the region are fuelling the Rapid Relief Fund. I again applaud your generosity and urge you to keep it up with new or renewed donations.

Now more than ever, we must ramp up the compassionate spirit that has always characterized our corner of Vancouver Island.

My sincerest respect and gratitude to you all.

HOW TO DONATE

Tax receipts will be issued. If you are open to receiving your tax receipt by PDF, please include an email address with your donation.

• Online: RapidReliefFund.ca

• Phone: 250-381-5532

• Mail: Send cheques (made out to the Victoria Foundation) to RapidRelief Fund, Victoria Foundation, 200-703 Broughton St., Victoria V8W 1E2

The Rapid Relief Fund was created by the Victoria Foundation, the Jawl Foundation, and the Times Colonist to help people in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CHEK Television, Coast Outdoor Advertising and Black Press are helping to boost awareness. Every dollar received from donations goes out as grants to the community.

Donations are being distributed through the Victoria Foundation.

victoriafoundation.bc.ca/rapid-relief-fund-disbursements

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