Reg Warkentin: Charities need our support now

When the Alberta government announced emergency funding for charities and not-for-profits, it was a clear recognition of the vital role these organizations play in providing essential services in communities across our province.

With much of our economy shut down as a result of the pandemic and the OPEC-Russia oil price war, donations that nonprofits rely on have all but dried up.

The government of Alberta recently announced that it will match funding for a number of designated groups that support social services in enabling physical distancing, along with those that support at-risk seniors and families facing homelessness, poverty and social isolation.

At the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce, we have around 130 members from the non-profit community that engage and work with the business community to expand their reach and help deliver their services.

In our community, we are blessed with a multitude of organizations that service a significant portion of Red Deerians requiring assistance and support in myriad ways.

The word limit for this column could easily be reached by listing just a small portion of local nonprofits and the work they do. Yet, it is incredibly important to highlight just a sample of the nonprofits and the contributions they make, such as the food bank, which ensures those in need of a meal can get one.

A few others include the Golden Circle, the Lending Cupboard, the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre and the Child Advocacy Centre. Together, they provide services for seniors, medical equipment and services for victims of sexual and emotional abuse.

There is also the cancer society, the heart and stroke foundation and The Mustard Seed. These are all organizations that provide invaluable, positively life-changing, and often life-saving services to those in need.

The Red Deer Regional Health Foundation has raised and donated millions of dollars for programs, services and medical equipment for hospitals and health facilities in our region.

The United Way of Central Alberta (founded in part by the chamber in the 1950s) has also raised and donated millions of dollars to hundreds of causes.

The ability of nonprofits to fund and deliver their programs is largely dependent on the prosperity and generosity of the business community, and the workers who comprise it.

In times of strong economic growth, organizations such as the United Way and the health foundation will enjoy record donations and host lucrative fundraisers.

Conversely, in the midst of a pandemic, an oil-price war, mass layoffs and ensuing economic heartache, their ability to raise funds is greatly diminished.

Sadly, the public’s need to utilize services such as the food bank or those related to health and mental health, only increases during an event such as this.

With this in mind, kudos to our provincial government for recognizing the critical role nonprofits play in supporting our community.

If you have the time or funds available to donate to one of the hundreds of nonprofits in our community, your support is needed now more than ever.

Reg Warkentin is policy and government affairs manager with the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce.

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