A barbecue and bake sale in front of the FCSS office on Main Street in Stettler last week was feeding hungry tummies in hopes of raising money for the crisis aid program.
The program, a non-profit stop-gap measure for people in financial need, is run by volunteers at the FCSS. It receives no funding and so is completely funded by donors, sponsors and events like the barbecue, held on Thursday, Sept. 11.
“It was set up a few years ago when FCSS saw a need for crisis money in the community,” said Wendy Rhyason, executive director of Stettler Community Support Centre (SCSC).
The organization helps fund people who find themselves in a financial crisis due to loss of work, unexpected expenses or illness, and so forth, but has very stringent guidelines since it has so little money to actually spend.
“We make sure the money we have is used for the uses it’s meant for,” Rhyason said.
The program has helped people in desperate need avoid eviction or utility shut-off, has helped people bridge the gap between the loss of work and the start of employment insurance or Alberta Works.
“It’s meant to help people get back on their feet, not start a cycle,” Rhyason noted.
If a person applies to the program more than twice, program coordinators help facilitate other types of counselling, to help break a cycle before it begins. If people aren’t willing to do some sort of counselling, whether it’s help learning how to budget properly or dealing with deeper emotional issues, the program closes its door to them.
“We have to empower them to move forward, rather than enable them to stay where they are,” Rhyason said.
Though Rhyason said she’s concerned the attention will drive up applications to a program with limited resources, she knows that public support is necessary in order to keep the program going.
“It’s a catch-22,” she admitted.
For more information, you can phone the FCSS and ask to speak with someone from the crisis aid program.