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COVID-19 emergency response fund sees uptake in grant applications, donations

West Vancouver Foundation looking to raise $500,000 to support first wave of grants

The organization behind an emergency fund providing a centralized place for people to donate to North Shore non-profits and charities that are helping those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is reminding the community it’s still seeking donations.

West Vancouver Foundation has already taken in more than $196,000 worth of donations to its COVID-19 emergency response fund launched in March, with the goal of reaching $500,000 to support the first wave of grant applications, according to Elaine McHarg, the foundation’s vice-president.

“There’s an urgency to this,” said McHarg. “The focus of our work is supporting organizations with regards to food security, with regards to safe shelter, and with regards to physical and mental wellness.”

So far, more than 20 grants have been given to North Shore organizations that are helping to support people going through economic hardships or facing other issues, such as social isolation, said McHarg, adding many more applications are currently under review.

“Most of them are in the $5,000 range. That’s the maximum that we give out to any one grant at a time,” said McHarg. “Food security is a big one.”

Examples of organizations that have received funding from the foundation so far include West Vancouver Seniors’ Activity Centre and Silver Harbour Seniors’ Activity Centre who received money to continue their prepared meal delivery service for seniors currently isolated at home, and Harvest Project, who received funding for its emergency grocery fund to support low-income individuals on the North Shore.

Other grants have been given to organizations such as Hollyburn Family Services and West Vancouver’s youth outreach program, which are aiming to provide virtual counselling services in the era of physical distancing.

“As organizations are changing their counselling over from being face to face to allow for remote delivery so that people are still able to reach someone … they’re seeing an uptake,” said McHarg.

The foundation also announced this week it would have $300,000 in additional funding available through a new federal emergency community support fund that aims to help vulnerable populations affected by the pandemic.

Individuals and corporations are encouraged to donate to the foundation’s emergency fund at Charitable organizations and non-profits are also encouraged to apply for a grant for either the federal emergency community support fund, or the foundation’s own emergency fund, on its website.