An Okanagan outreach society was hoping it could say farewell to unheated shipping containers, having finally found a home base.
However, after a last-minute withdrawal on a lease offer in Vernon, the All Our Family Outreach Society is still searching for a place to house their multi-faceted approach to outreach support.
“The owners of the little place we were going to rent called today and said they decided to go with someone else,” founder Clary Lausnes said in a Facebook update Sunday, March 14.
The news complicates an effort to raise funds to get the society on its feet in a new building; residents had been donating money to help All Are Family cover the first two months’ worth of rent as well as the damage deposit — up-front costs totalling around $1,800.
Anyone who made a donation and would like it returned is asked to contact the society, or else have their donation added to a new building fund.
A live online auction has been launched with a $1,000 goal. Dozens of items can be bid on in the auction catalogue, with all money raised going towards a future lease on a building, once the society can secure one.
That hasn’t proven as easy as it sounds in the nine months or so since the small volunteer-driven society left its former headquarters in the basement of a Winfield church, after a change in leadership at the church led to philosophical differences around supplying support in the community.
Beyond being a food hamper service, the society aspires to give people from Armstrong to Kelowna the tools and knowledge to sustain themselves through workshops and other activities — regardless of identity or creed.
Lausnes and her husband founded the society in 2014. She says volunteers are often relied upon for emotional support in addition to material support.
A new building would be a vast improvement over the unheated shipping containers the group was operating out of through the winter months, handing out warm cloths to street-entrenched individuals. Lausnes said there have been multiple occasions in which the society believed it was nearing a lease agreement, only to have the rug pulled out.
And with the effects of COVID-19 weighing on residents in the valley, Lausnes says now is not the time to be forced to turn away donated goods due to a lack of space to house them.
“It just doesn’t work, and we have to turn away so many donations because we used to have a sea can full of clothing that people could just come to and help themselves, and without a base we can’t do that anymore,” Lausnes said. “We’ve really been struggling since August.”
As a charitable organization with less than a year on its own — having left the Winfield church in June 2020 — the society is not eligible for a gaming account to hold 50/50 fundraisers, or apply for other grants.