United Way takes care with funding
In response to the open letter published in Tuesday’s Advocate, United Way of Central Alberta would like to add the following:
The decision to no longer fund the Red Deer Clothing Bank was not taken lightly. The community impact council’s recommendation to de-fund was made during the agency review process in the spring as the clothing bank no longer met the United Way mandate. The de-funding notice came with a recommendation that the clothing bank find an umbrella agency to operate under, making their operating costs much more economical given the number of clothing service providers in Red Deer.
We (United Way) take our role as stewards of donor dollars very seriously, ensuring we are supporting programs that are of greatest need to Central Alberta, and as such need to ensure dollars are used as effectively as possible and create the most impact possible in a sustainable way to meet our new community impact strategy guidelines.
We are aware of four clothing services in Red Deer that provide clothing to anyone who needs it for low or no cost: Bibles for Mission, Bargain Treasures, Salvation Army Thrift Store and Victory Church. We are also aware that some agencies give out vouchers so that clients can receive free clothing at certain outlets; Canadian Mental Health and Alberta Health Services are two we are aware of. Also, the Golden Circle service is for seniors and the John Howard Society’s clothing closet is open to anyone looking for work clothing and boots.
United Way’s mandate has always been to not fund duplicated services.
We received a quote from Shirley Berry, past president and volunteer of the Red Deer Clothing Bank for 21 years:
“I do support the loss of funding to clothing bank. I felt the United Way could use these funds to support other great community programs that are helping people rise out of poverty. I felt the clothing bank services were being abused by some people. Times have changed at the clothing bank over the 50 years and I believe we are now enabling too many people by proving free clothing instead of encouraging them to move out of their current situation. There are many other agencies in our community that offer clothing services at a minimal cost and perhaps even free if needed, if they were unable to pay. These agencies are also offering many other services to the clients that are accessing them; the community made the decision about de-funding the clothing bank and I support the process the United Way utilizes in deciding allocation of their money.”
Since 2010, United Way has been transforming into a community impact organization and concentrating its investments into making a real impact and difference in the communities we serve and we have therefore been asking funded agency partners to provide more details around the impacts they are having with their programs. One way to summarize this change is that we are now funding pathways out of poverty. The community impact council, which I am a member of, goes through a careful process of assessment when deciding upon United Way’s investment decisions and I fully support the decision they have made.
Chief executive officer
United Way of Central Alberta