A new fund has been set up to collect donations in support of vulnerable individuals and families in Swift Current who are hardest impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Way, in partnership with the City of Swift Current, are seeking donations which will be filtered to agencies and organizations that need support.
The donations will support in the following areas:
• Basic needs – ensure people have access to life’s essentials, such as food;
• Help for Seniors – to support those who are already vulnerable as they are isolated;
• Mental health support – enable crisis lines and system navigation services;
• Capacity for community services – ensure that community partners and initiatives can continue vital local work;
• Support for Volunteers – engage and deploy volunteers where they are most needed.
Stacey Schwartz from the United Way admitted that the need for funding is probably only reaching the tip of the iceberg.
“United Way is in very unique position where we don’t have one specific sector that we will only give to. United Way is a neutral entity that’s able to adjust and streamline our funds and our focus areas based on what the current community’s needs are. So during this time with this fund we are focusing on immediate needs, the most basic needs, helping seniors, mental health supports, capacity for our non-profits and looking at different initiatives that they are probably going to have to bring forward as well as helping out with engaging and deploying volunteers where they’re needed.”
Many in the community are aware of the current challenges being faced by non-profits. She noted The Centre’s meal program as one cause that has already seen an increase in use and that the United Way was able to help out in that area already.
Other non-profits have had to cancel major fundraisers to generate the funds they need, and all have had to become innovative
on how to deliver programs and meet the growing demand for services.
“This is a critical moment for us as a community; we need to stand together and work collaboratively – both in how we deliver programs and how we invest community donations. We want our community to know United Way and The City of Swift Current are here to help. We are asking those who have the ability to give and would like to donate to contribute to the COVID-19 Community Response Fund,” Schwartz said.
People are invited to donate to the local fundraising initiative through United Way Centraide Canada (http://www.unitedway.ca/Covid-19/).
“How they’ve set it up is it’s basically by postal code. So when an individual such as myself donates to that link, I enter my address and they ensure my gift that I’ve made returns back into the Swift Current community where it’s going to address the increased needs that are happening,” she explained.
“United Way Centraide Canada as a whole, so they have been advocating to government for local needs across Canada. As a United Way in Saskatchewan and here in Swift Current we’ve been in conversation with them and we’re letting them know our needs.”
Schwartz is hoping people are able to share their generosity through this initiative.
“Our community is just going to be hearing about this opportunity. We are very aware that not everybody is in a position, given the economy and given that hundreds of people that are being laid off at this time, we understand that not everybody is in a position to give. But those that are and are wanting to contribute we’re just now announcing this fund and a way for them to work collaboratively.”
“This is going to be evolving as we go because as everyone is aware over the last two weeks how fast things have changed. It’s almost we are building it as we go. But we want to be able to start meeting the needs as they come in and that’s why we have allocated funds to The Centre even before we launched the fund, because we did have some portion of funds that were available.”
“We’re hoping that we can continue to build partnerships. We have individuals here that we are going to be reaching out to. I am optimistic just seeing how Swift Current is a very unique community in the sense that everyone takes initiative, which is amazing to see,” said Schwartz, who pointed out the early response of the Swift Current Pandemic Support Network Facebook group. “We are just encouraging a collective action as we are supporting our non-profits and our most vulnerable sectors.”
211 Saskatchewan has been a vital resource during this time, and Schwartz notes they were able to acquire reports on the top requests for help received through that initiative. At the end of 2019, the top requests were identified as basic needs, such as access to food, real-time mental health supports and financial stability.
She added they will continue to work with key partners to fill the gaps and remove barriers identified in our community and surrounding area.
“United Way is unique where this is our focus now. I don’t doubt that at the end of the day we don’t know what this is going to look like in a year’s time. We don’t know the lasting impact that this is going to have. So we are able to adjust with that and streamline those funds in our community where there’s a more targeted approach in supporting those non-profits that are working in those areas and those sectors.”
“This is focused towards individuals, businesses that are wanting to donate, they’re wanting to support our community but maybe they don’t know the specific needs. We are in communication with our non-profits and we’re asking them to let us know immediate needs.”
“The unique thing about this fund is that we don’t have an application process. With most grants it takes months before you know if you’re going to get funds. The whole purpose of this is we have that relationship with our frontlines, our non-profits, they email with ‘Hey this is our need.’ We are creating a local allocation committee in partnership with the City and then, as fund become available, launching them right back into those non-profits that are needing them.”
“I will say as far as what has come forward is a very positive response when we reached out to the City of Swift Current if they would collaborate with us and they were very eager to jump on board as they also saw the need and the benefit of working together.”
In a press release announcing the community response fund, Swift Current Mayor Denis Perrault stated his support for the program.
“The City of Swift Current is happy to collaborate with United Way in Swift Current on this initiative. The important thing that our citizens should note is that funds raised in Swift Current for the Community Response Fund will stay right here in Swift Current, helping those most in need during this difficult time. This initiative will streamline funds to those non-profit organizations that are delivering vital services to our residents amidst this pandemic.”
Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley was also happy to see this community supporting resource launched.
“These are unprecedented circumstances that we are enduring globally and also right here at home. I want to commend the people of Swift Current and surrounding area for pulling together to help each other both financially and emotionally during this extremely challenging time. But there is a way through this if we each continue to support each other – our friends, our neighbours, our local businesses, and local charities – and I want to thank the United Way for being the latest organization to step up to the plate. The Community Response Fund can be another resource to help those in our community who are most in need,” he stated.