Thursday, 14 December 2017 06:31

Economic downturn forces non-profit organization to close offices

Written by  Demi Knight
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After two years of economic downturn, many non-profit organizations and Albertans individually across the province have struggled to keep their heads above water.

With constant financial hurdles, the economy has made it hard for many to stay out of a deficit situation.
One organization making changes due to these challenges is the Parkinson Association of Alberta.
Despite successful fundraising events and a dedicated user base, the not for profit organization has made the decision to close several storefront offices across the province, those including southern Alberta storefronts in both Lethbridge and Medicine Hat and one in Red Deer.
“Ultimately from an economy perspective, Alberta has been hit with this struggle for two or so years,” says Operations Manager with the Parkinson Association of Alberta, Brandi La Bonte.
“We’ve tried certain measures, and despite Step and Stride (which is our largest fundraising event of the year) going very well. Unfortunately, we are still running deficits, we didn’t want to — at the end of the day — take away services.”
With a need to continue offering services to all Albertans far and wide afflicted with or affected by Parkinson disease, the association made the decision to re-allocate their funding to direct services through a home-office program rather than through storefronts earlier this November.
“We  would rather put money towards programs and services than bricks and offices,” says La Bonte of the decision to close-down these storefronts in the three locations across Alberta.
“With having a home office, you can get rid of some of those overhead funds, meaning we can better delegate profits raised to go towards support and services needed within the community.”
Although the decision to close these storefronts did not come easily for the association, La Bonte says that it’s very important for all community members living in these areas to know that there will be no loss of services or support, but rather just a change in how these methods are distributed.
Through home visits, neutral location counselling services and telephone support groups, the Parkinson Association of Alberta, is working with clients and members of the public to inform them of the changes made and the services still available as the transition takes place.
With their website also home to an updated list of services within each area of the province, the association hopes to help make these changes as easy as possible, and services as accessible as possible for all users of the organization.
“Our core services which are support groups, supportive counselling and opportunities for education can be done wherever the people are, and we want everyone to know that,” added La Bonte.
“While an office is great, not everyone can come to the office anyway.”
“The last thing we want to do is reduce those services that’s why this decision to make ‘home-offices’ came into play, our mandate is to make sure no one has to go on this journey on their own.”
With the transfer of the storefront office into home-offices, users will see one major difference of no drop-in location to go to within the area, however with constant website updates and service and counselling options still available to these areas, the support will not change even though delivery methods may.
The closing date of the Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer storefront offices was effective as of Dec. 1 and the new cost-saving measures of home offices have been implemented within these three areas.
 For all those wanting to learn more about the accessibility of services provided by the Parkinson Association of Alberta, as well as see updates for information on counselling, support groups and telephone options for residents in each area of the province can go online to and access all the services and support as needed.

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