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Community Chest extending a hand
A new local program is offering a lifeline to families and individuals in dire need.
The Maple Ridge Community Chest initiative was launched in November by the Maple Ridge Community Foundation in partnership with The Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Katzie Community Network.
“It’s to help people in those last situations right before they continue that cycle of poverty,” explained Vicki Kipps, executive director of Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services.
The chest program offers one-time grants to those in crisis.
Maybe it’s helping somebody to pay a damage deposit or putting tires on their car to keep them going to work, or helping somebody purchase a piece of equipment necessary for work.
“Those situations where it’s like, gosh, if they could just get some financial help in the moment, that would prevent the whole cycle of poverty from spiraling out of control,” said Kipps adding the chest program is are not duplicating existing resources in the community, but filling gaps.
Robert Prince, co-organizer of the Community chest program, says each situation will be evaluated individually by community network organizations involved in the pilot project.
There is a checklist of criteria that those in need have to meet in order to qualify for assistance.
Even this criteria will be evaluated until the end of June, when the pilot project ends, to see what needs to be changed.
Since the launch, the fund has been used to help three families, one with a rental situation, one with medical equipment and the last with household maintenance.
The rental situation involved a young family with children, a potential abuser and a need to relocate immediately.
Even though income assistance programs would help with ongoing rent issues, it took a month for them to kick in.
The parent needed first month’s rent to tie the family over.
“It stops that parent from selling off their belongings to try to pay for rent and it keeps that landlord, who was very supportive and positive. It keeps that relationship very positive because that landlord is then paid for November,” explained Kipps.
She and Prince want to emphasize the need for community involvement in the project with ideas for fundraisers to help their neighbours and fill the community chest.
“We want people to think about their community, we want them to do something for their community. We don’t care how big it is,” explained Prince, who put forth ideas of collecting pennies, selling lemonade or simply putting a collection box in the office.
Local artist Tammy Routley recently held an open house that raised $442 for the community chest.
Plans are currently underway for a special day in March for people to come together to drop off their donations and share their fundraising stories.