Help for southwest Sask from United Way

Ten projects in the Swift Current area have received federal funds through the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) to help them adjust to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ECSF was created by the Canadian government to assist community organizations to provide services to Canadians during the pandemic. The distribution of funding is taking place through United Way Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, and Community Foundations of Canada.

The 10 organizations in Swift Current and area received a total of $142,000 through United Way Regina.

Stacey Schwartz, the United Way’s representative for community advancement in Swift Current and area, said all the organizations from the region that applied for funding were successful.

“I was very pleased with that,” she mentioned. “This investment has come at a vital time for our community and has reached a very diverse group of vulnerable sectors at the same time.”

COVID-19 has an impact on all these organizations, but their funding needs as a result of the pandemic are different.

“For example, our group homes are in a position where they're really feeling the effects of the isolation, because they can't open their doors yet, they're still under some very strict restrictions,” she said. “And then there's others that their needs look a little bit different and they're more looking at future needs coming in the fall and winter.”

The pandemic is not only impacting the ability of non-profit organizations to raise funds, but they might also face new and additional expenses related to COVID-19.

“The needs were there, but all of a sudden they're amplified, for example mental health related struggles right now and even just providing emotional support,” she said. “That was a very common factor with a lot of the applications that they were seeing the need for just mental health and emotional support right now, as well as then obviously basic needs, food, housing, things like that.”

Grants provided to organizations through ECSF are meant for activities that must be completed by March 31, 2021.

“I think it's been a challenging year for all of our community agencies, because they had to become very innovative in a short time frame and we're still trying to figure out what this is going to look like, even as it unfolds,” she said about the impact of the pandemic. “We're still in that time frame where we don't know a 100 per cent the full effects that this is going to have. … So I'm grateful that we've been able to, at least as far as the financial piece, take that burden off their plate so that they can look at those new ways that they can be providing supports without also then the stress of how are they going to fundraise to get the dollars to do that.”

United Way Regina received over 60 funding applications from across the entire southern Saskatchewan from community programs and services that support vulnerable community members. The review of applications was completed during July and 43 organizations will receive over $980,000. The ECSF grants will provide support for organizations in the Regina and Moose Jaw areas, Swift Current and area, the Weyburn area, the Yorkton and Melville areas, as well as other communities in southern Saskatchewan.

The allocation of funding was based on the size of the population in an area as well as regional and local needs. According to Schwartz the total amount allocated to organizations in Swift Current and area was higher than originally anticipated.

A local committee of individuals from different sectors reviewed the applications from the Swift Current area and made recommendations to United Way Regina. Organizations could submit more than one application, and each project was eligible to receive an amount up to a maximum of $20,000.

“It was quite a lengthy process of back and forth, determining how we allocate the funds,” she said. “We originally actually were going to have much less than the $142,000 and that's why I'm very grateful that there was flexibility in just being able to see who applied as a whole and then being able to readjust depending on demographics and the need in the area. … So the collaboration was really key to make sure that we weren't duplicating on projects and that we were getting the funds out where they could have their greatest impact.”

Below are details with regard to the ECSF grants to different organizations in Swift Current and area.

Canadian Mental Health Association Swift Current Branch: $15,000 to provide social recreation programming for a reduced number of participants at a time while ensuring that safety restrictions are followed to protect against COVID-19 transmission. Calls will be made focusing on wellness checks to assist with mental health and wellbeing.

Dr Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation Inc.: $4,500 to provide the Mental Health Unit of the Cypress Regional Hospital with an additional medication cart to enhance delivery of medication due to an influx of additional patients during COVID-19.

Family Resource Centre Swift Current Inc.: $20,000 to provide innovative methods of service delivery to effectively reduce isolation and minimize barriers and challenges in providing supports to isolated and vulnerable families affected by COVID-19.

Great Plains College: $40,000 for two projects to deliver Adult 10, GED and Adult 12 programming via a blended format that has a substantial distance delivery component to students in vulnerable sectors, including technology support in Swift Current and Maple Creek.

Herbert Group Home Inc.: $20,000 to increase staff capacity to support the residents who are adults with intellectual disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Saskatchewan Health Authority (Swift Current area): $14,500 to provide residents of long-term care who are isolated from friends and family and experiencing increasing loneliness, depression and anxiety with the opportunity to reduce these symptoms through all the benefits of biking outdoors in summer and indoors in winter.

Southwest Cultural Development Group Inc.: $5,000 to provide the technology required to adapt the programming to develop regularly scheduled online video presentations of Lyric Theatre core performing arts programming giving creative outlet to youth and others isolated by COVID-19 restrictions.

Southwest Homes Inc.: $20,000 to provide participants within the community and in group home/assisted living programs the ability to sustain basic needs and prevent risk of self-harm, decreased mental health challenges, suicide, increase self-worth, open and continued pathways to opportunity.

West Bank Bible Camp: $3,000 to provide an online virtual camp experience for children and youth who are not able to attend camp due to COVID-19.

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