The Salvation Army will try to soldier on in Maple Ridge, even if the provincial government cuts $1 million in funding for the Caring Place.
Maple Ridge council has asked B.C. Housing to eliminate funding for 25-bed homeless shelter, as they city attempts to open its own.
Caring Place executive director Darrell Pilgrim doesn’t know how the province will respond to the request, but a loss of funding would not necessarily mean the end of his organization in the city.
“Our hope and desire is to be able to provide most if not all of the other programs,” he said. “We would need the community to step up even more.”
Pilgrim in regular contact with B.C. Housing, but has no indication of what its response will be, nor when the timing of any cut would take place.
The Caring Place runs other charitable programs, including a community meal program, sending children to Camp Sunrise, providing 18,000 lunches to local kids and backpacks to children returning to school.
“We’re happy to keep on serving the community, and we know there are needs in the community,” Pilgrim added.
With the Caring Place facing the potential of being shut down, some of the residents there were moved to repay some of the kindness that has been given them.
The Caring Place runs a program to help that typically gives more than 200 backpacks filled with back-to-school supplies to children in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. These supplies are donated in cash or in-kind by concerned community members, and collected through Staples or The Salvation Army in a joint-effort fundraising campaign.
This year, Salvation Army residents in the Genesis Program, a transitional housing program that allows people to rebuild their lives, took up a collection, and pooled $110 for the backpack program.
“We don’t have a lot,” said a Genesis Program client who organized the fundraiser. “But we have more than some people do. We have security, though, and that’s more than some of these kids do. A few pennies – it comes from the heart.”
The gesture was touching for Sally Ann staff. Genesis Program participants live there for three years, in second-stage housing. They follow a life-skills building plan, and attend meetings with other service providers in the city, with a goal to get back into independent living.
Many of these residents have children themselves, and for them giving back to the students is part of their transition, and a way of healing, said Amelia Norrie, Caring Place spokesperson.
While the Caring Place faces a real threat to its provincial funding, Norrie said the staff and clients are not worrying.
“We have faith in B.C. Housing, just like they have had faith in us,” she said.
So far the Salvation Army has handed out 150 backpacks, in time for the first week of school.