Dave Obee: The needy and the newly needy

Take all of your ideas about who is needy, and toss them aside. Odds are, you are wrong. The COVID-19 crisis has created a whole new group of needy people, made up of individuals who never thought they would ever have to ask for a handout. Many of them were getting by, just barely, but things never got so bad that they had to ask for help.

Well, today, things are bad. They need help, and quickly.

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That is why the Rapid Relief Fund came into being. The idea behind the fund, established by the Victoria Foundation, the Jawl Foundation and the Times Colonist, is to raise money and get it to the people who need it as quickly as possible.

So far we have raised more than $3 million.

We also just completed a $250,000 match from the Victoria Foundation, bringing the foundation’s total commitment to $500,000, not to mention the staff time that has been donated, and the fees that have been waived.

What we are seeing is the community coming together to help those in need.

Together, we will get through this; together, we will be stronger.

The coronavirus has had a devastating economic and social impact, and it has swelled the ranks of those needing help.

For years, a small number of people have been in need. They are still there, but now they have to share precious resources with an influx of the newly needy.

No, wait, let me correct that. They are having to share, but the precious resources are dwindling. Blame the pandemic for that as well.

Here is a quick example: Most of the volunteers who are helping seniors are also seniors. They might be slightly younger, or more able, or whatever; the point is that a lot of seniors help other seniors.

But seniors are a high-risk group for COVID-19; if they get it, they are more likely to end up in hospital, or even die, than younger people. Many seniors also have underlying health conditions. The end result? Seniors are being urged to stay at home.

That means they are not able to help other seniors, and isolation is becoming a huge concern. It’s great to keep to yourself, in terms of avoiding the virus, but what happens if you’re a volunteer who now has to self-isolate? Who is going to help the people you used to help?

So someone has to pick up the slack. Staff members at charities need to work double shifts. Other organizations need to get involved, and protective supplies need to be bought and worn by everyone.

Now think of the people who were among the working poor, except they are no longer working. The ones who held three jobs, and now have only one or two, and a child who is no longer in school. Think of all those schools with lunch programs that are no longer providing a hot meal to vulnerable children.

These people need help, and fast. They might need food, or they might need housing support to see them through before government aid arrives. Or counselling support. Or help navigating their way to a government subsidy.

Collectively, these people are the reason why we all need to contribute to the Rapid Relief Fund. I have already mentioned who organized the fund, but in many ways, that is beside the point.

This is your fund. It depends on you, and it works for you. It enables you to get money to your neighbours who need it the most.

Please give what you can. We cannot give up while people need our help.

dobee@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.

The Victoria Foundation is administering the fund. 

Money has gone to: 

Coalition of Neighbourhood Houses – $275,000:

Beacon Community Services – $125,000 financial supports, through the Homeless Prevention Fund (HPF) (by phone or email)
Burnside Gorge Community Centre – $75,000 for training and materials to follow health protocols and for Childcare operations
Ferwood Neighbourhood Resource Group – $75,000 for food access
Funds will be shared among Coalition members (10 orgs), and coordinated through their coordinator Erin Ewert. Beacons will use their funds for the HPF (rent subsidies, hydro, income supports etc…)

Food Share Network – $200,000

Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Vancouver Island – $50,000 for staffing needs to keep social concern office to continue food access programming in place and maintaining health protocols
Victoria Cool Aid Society – $150,000
Food access
Financial supports (rent, hydro, income supports etc…)
Housing/shelter
Maintain health protocols currently in place
N95 masks
Sanitizer
PPE personal protective equipment

Salvation Army ARC – $175,000

Food access
Housing/shelter
By phone counselling services
Maintain health protocols currently in place
purchasing safety supply supplies such N95 face masks, hand sanitizer for easy public use as well as staff use.
Protective gloves
Disinfectant had soap for washrooms

Salvation Army Stan Hagen Centre for Families – $150,000

Food access
Crisis counselling by phone
Financial support (rent, hydro etc..) by phone
Maintain health protocols currently in place
purchasing safety supply supplies such N95 face masks, hand sanitizer for easy public use as well as staff use.
Protective gloves
Disinfectant had soap for washrooms

Mustard Seed – $200,000

Food Access (Viewfield/Food Rescue & food bank/meals)
Maintain health protocols currently in place
N95 masks
Gloves
Disinfectant

Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness – $68,000.00

Homelessness prevention
Supportive programming
Supporting individuals in self-isolation

AVI South Island – $45,000.00

Scaling up food and care services & telemedicine for immuno-compromised clients and clinic
Maintaining health protocols

Cowichan Green Community – $50,000.00

Food access through food recovery project and other programs
Maintaining health protocols

Disaster Aid (Soap for Hope) – $25,000.00

Procurement and distribution of hygiene and essential personal products for populations affected by pandemic
Staffing needs

Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank – $40,000.00

Food access on the Peninsula
Maintaining health protocols

Salt Spring Community Services – $100,000.00

Food access
Emergency relief (stipends, rent, emergency funds)
Emergency shelter and facilities
Maintaining health protocols

Sooke Food Bank – $40,000.00

Food access in Sooke
Maintaining health protocols

The Cridge Centre for Families – $75,000.00

Child Care
Housing/shelter
Food access
Senior assisted living
Financial supports
Supportive programming
Maintaining health protocols

Together Against Poverty Society – $40,000.00

Navigation of government supports and programs accessing financial assistance (e.g. Employment Insurance)

Victoria Native Friendship Centre – $162,000.00

Food access
Emergency shelter
Child care
Delivery of essential services to those in self-isolation
Maintaining health protocols

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