More than just presentations on budgetary needs, the time of year when local community organizations make their annual funding request to council is also a time when positive impacts those local agencies have are celebrated.
Ponoka Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), which has served the community for 50 years and supports various other local agencies, was one of the delegations that presented to Ponoka town council on March 8.
FCSS does not anticipate any grant funding increases for 2022 to 2024. They made their usual request for funding from the town of $40,109 for 2022.
Ponoka FCSS is nearing about 60 staff and works within a budget of $400,000.
Executive director Shannon Boyce-Campbell told council that their Alberta Health Services contract for Home Care services makes up a significant portion of their budget.
“Ponoka is unique, as it has that contract, as does Rimbey, which makes Ponoka FCSS significantly larger that many others in the province,” said Boyce-Campbell.
“We are capable, because of that, to fund other agencies.”
FCSS is facing accreditation for those health care services in April.
“We usually come out of that successfully but I may be calling on a few councillors to be involved in that process, especially those that are on our board,” she said.
FCSS currently has about 100 Lifeline clients, and 73 Home Care clients, and ran several events in the community last year, with 520 volunteers giving 4,470 hours.
It was a year with less programming, but FCSS still invested $77,000 back into the community for programs and grants and an additional $125,000 back to eligible programs, according to Boyce-Campbell.
“I hope you feel what we do with your contribution … I hope you feel you’re getting a good bang for your buck.”
Boyce-Campbell then brought up some concerns that she said were weighing on her mind, which included how limited some of their services are.
“There used to be a time when we had outreach in our community … I see a real trend across the province and federally with centralized processing,” she said.
Boyce-Campbell said that people are increasingly unable to access services as they become more online or virtual, or intake is done over the phone, as not everyone who is needing services has access to a phone or computer.
“I feel like we’re losing a big population, more and more, to these issues.”
Websites are also sometimes down for weeks at time, and FCSS staff have very few options to then help people, she said.
“The system becomes more and more complicated all the time,” said Boyce-Campbell.
In 27 days, there were 25 individuals with 73 stops at the FCSS office for basic services, such as housing, food and basic services.
Some people she knows of, plan to eat six days a week and chose one day a week they know they won’t be able to eat.
“It’s just a reality … just keep those stories in the back of your head and when we’re making decisions, I think that those are things that need to be heard as well.”
FCSS is facing loss of funding from agencies and individuals and “FCSS can’t pick up all the slack,” said Boyce-Campbell.
“Our funds can’t pick it all up and our staff can’t pick it all up so I’m hoping that things open up and more things are available but I’m a little bit worried about that for sure.”
Boyce-Campbell added that if council wanted to help stop poverty, to please promote FCSS’s free income tax clinics for low income individuals and seniors. The clinics are run by volunteers that are trained by the Canada Revenue Agency.
Last year, FCSS did close to 300 returns, that brought back $1.6 million to the community through refunds.
The Ponoka Covered Wagon Handicapped Transport Society made a funding request of $31,000.
FCSS has committed funding for replacing handivan vehicles that are past their lifespan and is hoping to replace them within a year.