The need: How did this project come about? Who do you help and why?
Over the years, the office has received many calls for help from local individuals and families in urgent hardship situations, where the need is pressing and no agency is ready or able to give it. These painful occasions led us to organize “the Lifeline List.” For more than 10 years we have been able to assist more than 260 local families. Over those years, we have also developed excellent working relationships with compassionate agencies like the Victoria Women’s Transition House and the Cridge Centre for the Family. They know what we do and they sometimes invite us to help the people they serve.
The Lifeline List Project does not provide cash. We may help with the rent by writing a cheque to the landlord; we may buy food vouchers when the cupboard is bare; we may pay a phone bill or a hydro bill to keep a vital service available to an impoverished family with children; we may purchase vital medicine which is not covered by any insurance plan. This sort of assistance, on a one-time-only basis, has lifted many families over a bump in the road which seemed insurmountable to them at the time.
The format: How do you go about assuring claimed needs are genuine?
Several experienced congregation members (all women, because the vast majority of people we help are women) act as “assessors,” visiting face to face with anyone asking for help. The assessors respectfully ask probing questions, keep their eyes open and determine what help, if any, will be provided. A volunteer keeps the confidential records and administers the project. The records are available to board members and the ministers
The terms: What does becoming a sponsor on our Lifeline List mean?
People who volunteer their names for our congregation’s Lifeline List are called “sponsors.” They are promised that they will not be called upon more than once a year and they they will only be called upon in a specific, urgent situation, which has been confirmed as genuine by an assessment. They will be given what details can be shared while maintaining confidentiality. They will never be asked to contribute more than $200 and they will get a tax receipt. Finally, they can have their name taken off the Lifeline List at any time, with a simple phone call to the list administrator.
Advantages: How has it worked?
Before this project was launched, it was reviewed and approved by our congregation’s Social Responsibility Coalition and by the Board. For more than 10 years now it has proved to be remarkably practical and successful. The Lifeline List has allowed our faith community to respond to urgent local needs swiftly and collectively. We currently have 74 sponsors supporting this project. If becoming one of the sponsors of our Lifeline List appeals to you, or if you have questions or comments, please phone the office (250-744-2665), leave your name and phone number and the project administrator will call you.
The Ethel May Fund
The Fund is a trust set up by a generous member of our community in honour of his late mother. It works in close co-operation with the Lifeline List in helping where the financial need is greater than the Lifeline is able to cover.