“Never let a good crisis go to waste.” – Winston Churchill
What’s inspiring about Churchill’s words are that they encourage us to look for a silver lining during a crisis and to seek opportunities where they might not have been before.
The Better Together Fund started in early 2020 as a way to respond to the immediate COVID-19 crisis and has continued as a wonderfully useful way for the Community Foundation North Okanagan to meet urgent needs as they arise in our community. Donors who give to this fund provide an important source of granting dollars for immediate response to emergencies and time-sensitive needs and opportunities.
As Leanne Hammond, executive director at the Community Foundation North Okanagan explains, “While the pandemic has changed many of the ways we do things, what has not changed is our community’s generosity, determination, and willingness to care for each other.”
Hammond says the Community Foundation is used to distribute funds primarily through the Foundation’s annual granting program in the Spring. While the Smart & Caring Granting Program continues, they’re now also able to help with things that come up between granting cycles.
“Opportunities and emergencies don’t defer to application deadlines or crop up at convenient times. Having some funding on hand to consider such needs allows the Community Foundation to be a much stronger and more relevant community resource,” Hammond explains.
Hammond uses a favourite example to illustrate: Many families and seniors are continuing to face food insecurity in our area. The Community Foundation started a program they dubbed Fill the Gap during the pandemic to help families and seniors struggling with food insecurity. While as communities we learn to live with COVID, the impact of the pandemic is far from over. Economic challenges like inflation, rising grocery bills, transportation/gas costs, and time off work due to illness continue to be challenges.
The Community Foundation North Okanagan used donations to the Better Together Fund to sponsor 160 food boxes per month starting in November 2020 with the intention of running the program for six months. As became abundantly clear, the need continues for Vernon and area, and so has their support. CFNO has sponsored more than 2,600 boxes this last year and is planning to continue helping as long as donations to the Better Together Fund permit.
“Throughout these unprecedented times, we want our charity partners, donors and supporters to know that we are committed to doing all that we can to support our community through the ongoing challenges being presented,” Hammond says. “Donations to the Better Together Fund help us do that, and our donors enable us to fill the gap, wherever that may be.”
Donations In Action
Thanks to continued donor contributions, the Better Together Community Response Fund most recently helped the Upper Room Mission (URM) install a shower for the unhoused population in our community. URM is a day shelter offering meals, clothing and other emergency services to clients in our communities.
This Fund also provides support for the North Okanagan Good Food Box Society, to feed local families, seniors, and individuals facing food insecurity. Thanks to the donations made to this fund, the Community Foundation has sponsored more than 2,880 fresh grocery boxes (and grocery cards) this past year and will continue with more support in the coming few months. Read the news story here.
To learn more, contact Leanne Hammond today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call