Correctional centre inmates make donation to Rapid Relief Fund

The Rev. Canon Kevin Arndt knows there’s a lot more to a recent $289.01 donation to the Rapid Relief Fund than meets the eye.

The money comes from 16 inmates at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre, where Arndt is the chaplain. They pooled what little they had to try to make a difference at a time when people are worried about the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

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The fund is being distributed to people most affected by COVID-19 for everything from food to child care and shelter.

Arndt said the contribution stemmed from talks he had with inmates at the correctional centre on Wilkinson Road, who are currently barred from having visitors because of COVID-19 precautions.

“They’re, like the rest of us, concerned about what’s happening in the community and in the world, and they’re worried about their loved ones,” he said.

“They were wanting to do something.”

They wanted to make some kind of donation and the Rapid Relief Fund came up because Arndt has a connection with the Victoria Foundation, which launched the fund along with the Jawl Foundation and the Times Colonist.

“The Rapid Relief Fund seemed like to me the obvious one, and the one that was going to be most flexible in terms of helping where the needs are greatest.”

The inmates thought it was a good idea, so Arndt went around to the living units, hung up posters and encouraged participation.

Donations ranged from $1 to one inmate giving two donations totalling $85. Wages for prison work tend to be less than $5 a day, Arndt said.

He said that personal experience is one of the reasons the inmates wanted to help.

“So many of these guys, they know what it’s like to be in need, so they’re moved by that,” he said. “Also, a lot of them have spent most of their lives feeling like they’re on the margins, like they don’t belong, so this was an opportunity for them to be a part of something positive and bigger than themselves.”

He said it’s powerful “when people give not out of their wealth, but they give out of their poverty.”

“Being able to do something good for someone else is a really powerful way of promoting our own healing and our own sense of positive self.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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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