With the Christmas and new year festivities almost over, fundraising initiatives for 2016 are underway for many organizations, among which is Stettler’s Crisis Aid Program, a one-time assistance program for people who have exhausted all other sources of assistance.
“When funds are available Crisis Aid will pay for medication, transportation to and from medical appointments (in and out of town) and special dietary needs not met by the food bank for those who cannot afford it,” said Les Stulberg, board member, Crisis Aid Program. “The program has also helped with rent in certain situations to prevent homelessness and has provided temporary housing and utilities, and with the generous support of Superfluity, Crisis Aid has been able to meet clothing needs as well.”
In operation for five years, the program was started by a group of volunteers who identified a gap in community services where some people in crisis situations were falling through the cracks, with no where to turn.
Crisis Aid also receives donations of household furniture from community members which is distributed to individuals who need it.
Operated solely on donations and fundraising, the program is not eligible for funding by Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) because the government mandate for FCSS clearly specifies FCSS funding can only be for preventive services.
“Community businesses have been solicited for donations and individuals have stepped up with donations as well,” said Stulberg. “Fundraising in the form of bake sales, barbecues and recently hosting Santa at Moonlight Madness have been successful in gaining some funds, but more are needed as Crisis Aid funds are very low.”
Fundraising for 2016 is still in the planning stages but Crisis Aid will continue to do similar fundraising in the community.
According to Stulberg, a larger event is currently being explored that will raise greater amount of funds and awareness about the program.
“At this point we are still in the planning stages for some of the larger events but volunteer time and money are always an issue when trying to plan fundraising events,” said Shelly Walker, executive director, Stettler FCSS. “We will of course do our usual community barbecues and continue to look for new ways to fund this critical community support.”
There have been a few cases when people requiring a medical appointment in Red Deer had no transportation or funds to get there, and Crisis Aid has come to the rescue.
“Crisis Aid has often helped people who didn’t have the money to pay for medical prescriptions,” said Stulberg. “Just recently, a person was released from the Stettler hospital but had no means of getting to their home in Stettler County, so Crisis Aid provided the transportation.”
There have been instances where families have been saved from eviction.
“To see the good that the Crisis Aid Program does warms my heart,” said Stulberg. “In one case a family of three would have been evicted and split up, with the child going to social services, the mother to a woman’s shelter and the father would have been on the street had it not been for Crisis Aid.”
In the past year, Crisis Aid has provided assistance to many people, with over $15,000 in aid to members of the greater-Stettler community.
“Considering the fact that this amount is 100 per cent donation and volunteer-based is a great testament to the generosity of our community,” added Stulberg. “This amount does not reflect any value that was provided in furniture or clothing.”
Since, Crisis Aid does not provide any direct funds to an individual, it helps reduce risk of abuse and ensures funds are used for the purpose intended.
“All monetary amounts are given directly to either the landlord, utility company, drug store or transportation provider,” explained Stulberg. “The greater-Stettler area is a kind and caring community and has shown amazing generosity in the past for many worthy causes.”
According to Stulberg, the Crisis Aid committee members appreciate the support from the businesses and residents of the Town and County of Stettler for their generous donations during the past five years.
“But I am concerned that many people know little about the Crisis Aid Program and its need for funds,” said Stulberg. “I am apprehensive with the state of the economy in Alberta that the draw on Crisis Aid funds will likely increase this coming year and perhaps if there was greater awareness, the kind and generous hearts of this community will step forward to help those close to home in need through the Crisis Aid Program.”