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Okanagan outreach facing dire times as donations drop, demand skyrockets

All Are Family Outreach founder says the organization could shut down by end of year without help
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Okanagan-based All Are Family Outreach Society, which provides support to those struggling from Armstrong to Kelowna, is in dire straits after receiving extremely low donations since March 2023. (All Are Family Outreach photo)

Clary Lausnes is wondering how much longer her small outreach team can hold out.

Since 2014, Lausnes and her husband have run All Are Family Outreach, helping people struggling to get by from Armstrong to Kelowna with food, fuel costs, rent payments, funds for medication, moral support and anything else they can help with.

But at a time when the cost of living is exploding and demand for their services is skyrocketing, donations to the outreach have been close to nil of late, and Lausnes fears their project to help the less fortunate may be nearing the end of the line.

Just this year, the outreach has twice had to close for weeks at a time due to a lack of resources.

Lausnes says funds haven’t been there to put fuel in the outreach’s van, meaning they haven’t been able to deliver goods to people in need.

“We do need fuel for the van, we have the sea can we rent for storage, we do help people with medication and such, and we’re just completely unable to do that,” Lausnes said.

“It’s at such a dire point that if we don’t get a pretty substantial donation or help, we will be closed by at least the end of the year if not sooner.”

Lausnes said the outreach received a good amount of support over Christmas that tided them over until March, but since then it’s been a struggle.

“We do have somebody doing a food drive in July that will be a big help stocking the shelves, but again, if we can’t pay the sea can to store it in or get the food to people, it’s kind of a moot point,” Lausnes said.

READ MORE: Burnout, death threats, stigma: Inside the life of an Okanagan non-profit operator

Lausnes says times are tough for many families who rely on their services, and lately they’re starting to see new families come to them, ones that have never used a food bank before.

She fears if All Are Family is eventually forced to shut down, a number of people will have nowhere else to turn.

“There’s this idea out there that there’s so many organizations that everybody must be covered. That’s simply not the case,” she said.

“We have families walking by the blessing boxes every day to hope that there’s a little bit of food that they can take home to their children. Blessing boxes are not really intended for families, they’re intended for the street people.

“That old saying of ‘everybody thought that somebody should do it but nobody did it,’ that’s kind of the situation we’re ending up in now.”

Lausnes believes the federal and provincial governments need to do more for low-income families amid the escalating cost of living.

“If changes aren’t made soon, if the government doesn’t step in and do something, the dirty 30s are going to look like a sweet dream.”

All Are Family’s shutdowns this year have been due to a complete lack of staple foods, including rice, ramen noodles, jam and fruit juice. She says while fruit juice might not seem essential, it’s the next best thing when storing and distributing fresh fruit isn’t feasible.

“It’s been scientifically proven that if you can give a child a healthy diet, that greatly improves their chance of breaking any circles of poverty,” she said.

Aside from a few part-time volunteers, All Are Family Outreach is run by only three people, and there is limited time between them to take up fundraising campaigns.

“We’re dealing with suicide calls, depression calls, we’re dealing with marital abuse calls, that has all skyrocketed, besides giving out hampers and trying to raise funds, and we’re tired, we just can’t do all of it and the fundraising on top of it.”

Lausnes encourages anyone who may have an idea for a fundraiser for the outreach to reach out to her at aafoutreach@hotmail.com or by phone at 250-503-4983. E-transfers can also be sent through the email.

All Are Family is also hosting a three-day yard sale fundraiser July 7-9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. The yard sale will be located at 6900 Tronson Rd., near Kin Beach. There will be books, DVDs, pre-loved clothing, household goods and other donated items for sale. The outreach will also raffle off a wine and goodies gift basket and sell tickets for draws for two pork loins worth more than $80. Tickets are three for $5.

READ MORE: Vernon Towne Theatre supporting Okanagan outreach society with movie night


Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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