The Cranbrook Women’s Shelter is in dire need of donations. Budget restraints and a severe decline in community donations have meant the centre is currently unable to offer food programs. A $300 donation from the city in the form of emergency funding will go a small way to help, but donations from the community are needed.
Denise Stewart, coordinator at the Women’s Centre, said the centre’s food programs helps women and their children living on a low income.
“ln the past the Women’s Centre was able to offer weekly lunches, a stocked food cupboard, good food baskets and gift cards to Safeway or Superstore,” she said. “We are now unable to offer any of these services.”
The Cranbrook Women’s Centre is an organization under the umbrella of the Community Connections Society of Southeast B.C.
Stewart sent a letter to council asking for donation on Oct. 6. After discussions council went ahead with a $300 donation.
“I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for women’s centres because the doors open and they are there for anyone who walks through those doors,” said Coun. Angus Davis. “There was a time when I was out of circulation for a bit and those two ladies who run that women’s centre were at the door [asking] ‘are you ok?’”
He noted that was years ago.
“I’m just amazed and thankful for the type of people that operate these facilities — it’s an act of love for their fellow human beings,” he said. “If they need food or something I’m more than willing to take part.”
Coun. Diana J. Scott said her heart goes out to the centre as well.
“I don’t think the community is aware of this and I certainly wasn’t aware of this until I read this letter,” Scott said. “I’m not really in favour of us donating city money for food.”
Scott said that usually council helps organization like the food bank with capital investments for things like freezers and not direct food donations.
“I think that’s up to members of the community to make that decision,” she said. “But I certainly appeal to the community to do so.”
Coun. Sharon Cross noted that there are a number of churches that offer breakfasts, then there is Street Angels, the Salvation Army and the Food Bank. Cross wondered if it was possible for them to work together, but noted there may be safety concerns.
Coun. Denise Pallesen noted that the Cranbrook Women’s Centre has really struggled over the past few years.
“I feel so badly for them. There are so many great organizations out there that are struggling as well,” Pallesen said.
Coun. Gerry Warner said this sounds like an emergency situation, and said he would be willing to make a motion to give them something out of the contingency fund.
Warner put forward a motion to take $300 out of the contingency fund for the centre.
“Let’s help them out a little bit, because I think the food goes along with that social therapeutic aspect that would make the contact a lot more meaningful,” he said.
Mayor Wayne Stetski noted that he would be meeting with service clubs and added a presentation about the women’s centre to the list.
Stetski noted that his stipulation would be that it is a one-time only donation and that the centre is aware that it can apply for a grant-in-aid in the future.
“Under those circumstances I think I’ll support the motion,” Stetski said.
Coun. Bob Whetham also supported the emergency funding.
“But I would like to see it followed up with more information with what the programs really are … and what other options there are for funding,” Whetham said.
Coun. Scott was opposed to the motion.
“I just don’t want to go down that slippery slope of donating from taxpayers money for this emergency,” Scott said. “I think it behooves people in the community to rally around this.”