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This holiday season make your gift go further. By giving generously you can help us to positively impact the lives of vulnerable children, youth and their families in our community.
Find out what your gift can do to help tackle #UNIGNORABLE issues this holiday season like poverty, hunger, mental health, education inequality, domestic violence, homelessness, social isolation and unemployment.
When asked about CFS Saskatoon, Trish St.Onge, the organization’s Executive Director’s responses demonstrate the broad scope of services that the organization provides in Saskatoon:
“CFS Saskatoon is a multi-service, mission driven organization. We have three areas of business. One is our Early Learning and Family Centre; we also have a family and community programs division, which includes a variety of groups and year-round family programming; and lastly, we have a broad and comprehensive clinical service for individuals, couples, and families”.
Family supports, programming, and clinical services—these are all areas where needs have increased as a result of COVID-19. These are also areas where service providers have had to adapt and make changes to continue to meet the needs of the people in Saskatoon that they serve.
“One of the things that is unique for us, is that more than half our revenue comes from fees, so we’re a bit like a small business in that sense. Going back to March 20th, when we got notice that schools were closing, that was the beginning of some really significant changes for us. Because our early learning centres were both located in schools they were closed. Though these centres were closed, we were invited to open one of them as a childcare centre for essential service workers—paramedics, fire fighters, police, hospital workers, and so on. Although we could open one centre, we were still running at a fraction of our capacity”.
COVID-19, social isolation, and mental health—each of these experiences are connected in such a way that one can easily impact another. As many are isolated in their homes, either to maintain their health, or due to sickness, their experiences of social isolation and the impact it can have on one’s mental health become more real each day. Few organizations can speak about these issues better than Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service. Social isolation and mental health are #UNIGNORABLE.
Rita Field, Executive Director of Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service, describes the organization’s ongoing work:
“Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service is a 24/7, 365 day a year, generalist crisis service, responding to every type of crisis that comes in the direction of organization. The major categories are, families in distress, parent-teen conflict, child abuse and neglect, intimate partner violence, and seniors who are in distress or being abused; the other major area is mental health and substance abuse”.
For those facing crisis, they are also dealing with and navigating the #UNIGNORABLE issues of social isolation and mental health.
“Often the people who we serve are not connected with a support system. Isolation is something that we work to resolve, but with COVID-19, people have been asked to be more isolated. People’s options for travel and transportation have been reduced. Their options for hanging out and going for coffee, or for accessing some free services have been reduced”.
Hunger is an #UNIGNORABLE issue that impacts the daily lives of many in our community. This is also an issue that is worsened by the impacts of COVID-19. Due to job loss, shut-downs, and distancing, people’s access to their next meal has been more challenging to come by. Although the current story is commonly one of greater needs and fewer resources, there are organizations in Saskatoon that are here to help, each and every day.
“The Saskatoon Indian and Metis Friendship Centre (SIMFC) supports Indigenous cultural distinctiveness by providing community development services that holistically support people of all ages and backgrounds,” shares Robert Doucette, Executive Director of SIMFC.
When asked about the challenges that SIMFC has faced from the beginning of COVID through to the present, Robert shares a story of responsiveness, compassion, and adaptability.
“The centre instituted an outreach food program during COVID-19 so that we could reach those in need without people making a trip to the centre. This was done to ensure that those in need were not left hungry, and to provide access to other resources like hygiene products and warm clothing. This outreach program increased our ability to reach a greater number of people who were facing hardship. If we were driving and saw that you were in need, we stopped and we helped you”.
Aside from the outreach food program, SIMFC has also assisted families, individuals, and elders with food hampers.
“Food security became our number one priority during this pandemic. All through the summer and in the fall SIMFC had the ability to assist families, individuals, and elders with food hampers, to address their food security concerns. Every Tuesday, in our August campaign we issued 920 hampers of perishable and non-perishable foods, which we estimated helped 5726 people”.
Poverty, social isolation, homelessness, unemployment, domestic violence, hunger, education inequality, and mental health are all #UNIGNORABLE issues that our community faces. Sheri Benson, CEO of United Way Saskatoon and Area, reflects on how the pandemic impacts organizations and those most vulnerable in our community. She shares how organizations and donors have faced these challenges, worked together, and pooled resources to address these #UNIGNORABLE issues. As we have seen, as COVID cases increase, organizations like Prairie Harm Reduction, White Buffalo Youth Lodge, The Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre, The Bridge and others have been pushed to close their doors. To support our community, we can support our local caring organizations.
“When COVID began the challenge we faced was to support frontline heroes and organizations to be able to stay open and to continue to provide services to those folks who were vulnerable. Because of the generosity that people have in the community, we were in a position to be able to rapidly respond to get resources out to those communities and those agencies. That meant that services that people relied on were there when they needed them”.
“Many vulnerable people in our community count on front line community services, like Saskatchewan Indian and Metis Friendship Centre, Catholic Family Services Saskatoon, and Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service. People really count on those services, and need to count on them more so now than ever, because when you’re faced with issues like poverty and homelessness, the impact of a pandemic, for lots of people, but especially for the most vulnerable, can mean life or death”.