Practical support is part of 1Up’s mandate, along with education and empowerment. “They work together to help families move through a period of transition and begin again.” says executive director Liz Bloomfield.
“Most of all, practical support is about relieving stress, creating hope and giving that sense of community,” states single dad Trevor, who has transitioned from client to volunteer and now 1Up’s Administrative Coordinator.
Kerri-Ann receives a $25 food voucher as an incentive for every fourth Choices and Changes class she attends. She feels it helps to take the worry out of finding the money to buy diapers and allows her to focus on learning positive coping mechanisms for her and her child. Coming to class from Sooke by bus for the 9:30 AM class is no small feat for Keri-Ann, who says that before 1Up she was feeling isolated and unmotivated. “Before 1Up I was isolated and would stay in my pyjamas for days at a time”, says Kerri-Ann.
A parent’s first contact with our services may be ‘The Anatomy of Anger’ or ‘Lighthouse Parenting’ and then the support and stress relief of receiving a backpack full of required school supplies or the clothing, bread, books and toys available solidifies a sense of belonging, commitment and hope that helps them make changes.
|Some client families, like Tania and her daughters Bonita, 6 and Cianna, 8, are grateful that 1Up courses helped them through the difficult transition of becoming a single parent family. “It is a ripple effect”, says Tania, who now makes it a ritual to donate clothes, toys and books with the girls. “I came to 1Up for the emotional support from the crazy and shocking turmoil of divorce. I know it’s difficult and often traumatic to go from two incomes to one and the practical support services can help out and also give a sense of hope and belonging.”|
Kristi is also compelled to ‘pay it forward’. “We received a hamper from a woman who accessed 1Up services 15 years ago. Now she and her grown child put together a hamper every year. I said, Yep, that will be me in 15 years or however long it takes, we will give back.”
The practical support services have 500 visits a month and are a costly endeavour for 1Up. To really be a helping hand, each of the 175 school supplies packages and 80+ Christmas Hampers are customized to the families’ needs and take three months’ of staff time – time that could be spent on counselling and courses. Then there is the expense of coordinating volunteers and supplies for the clothing room, bread room and Christmas dinner.
It is a $107,000 program facing a $40,000 shortfall this year alone” says Bloomfield. “But, our client interviews and observations confirm that it is too essential to the well-being of our clients to consider cutting back without first reaching out to our extended community.”
The solution is two-fold. First, to look for partnerships with organizations that can take over some of the solicitation, packaging and coordination of the two main initiatives, the school supplies drive and Christmas Hampers. The second initiative is to let our donors and the community know that while we are so very grateful for their in-kind donations, we are also in need of $40,000 in cash donations. The funds will help pay for volunteer coordination, staff time, food vouchers, and providing specific emergency supplies as needed.
All contributions of cash are appreciated and will make a difference. To donate, please go to the Ways To Give page.
“If just 40 people and workplaces stepped forward and joined the President’s Club at $1,000 per year ($83 per month) the program would continue” states Bloomfield.
Over 17% of families in the Capital Regional District and 21% of families in the Victoria are led by a single parent. One in 5 children in Victoria lives in a single parent household and 80% of them are headed by a single mother. And over half of those live below the poverty line.
Many of the parents we see have no extended family to support them – imagine caring for your kids 24/7, nobody to talk to at the end of the day, to share the joys and frustrations of parenting. Add to that the problems of lack of affordable housing and a shortage of child care and the problems can seem overwhelming.