COVID-19 has put a record number of families in vulnerable positions but a Richmond non-profit has stepped up to fill the gap for those turned away from other programs.
“We have seen a significant increase in the number of families who are, or at risk of becoming, homeless due to loss of jobs,” said Tabitha Geraghty, executive director of Chimo Community Services.
And even if they haven’t lost their home, many are having trouble paying for groceries and utilities.
The high demand for social services has forced some agencies to turn families away, but Geraghty assures families that won’t happen if they turn to Chimo.
“We are not turning anyone away this year, and we want to ensure that all our families in Richmond have a Christmas and some small sense of normalcy that 2020 has taken from them this year,” said Geraghty.
Chimo a non-profit organization that helps people in crisis, has provided Christmas hampers, filled with food and necessities, as well as counselling services for families who have been unable to access other supports during the Christmas season this year.
The non-profit has helped 75 families so far, including single mothers with children, women fleeing from violence as well as families experiencing challenges whether it is COVID-19 related or not.
Local programs and organizations such as the Richmond Christmas Fund – which is run by Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives – and Mamas for Mamas had to turn away several people due to max capacity this holiday.
Ryan Luetzen, spokesperson for RCRG, said that a small number of people who applied after their pre-registration deadline had to be turned away.
“While a difficult decision, it was a necessary one, as we had to strike a balance between helping our neighbours in need, and protecting the health and safety of our volunteers and the many families we did serve,” said Luetzen.
“Thankfully, other community supports are available this year, whether operated by faith groups or other non-profit organizations that are running smaller holiday campaigns to meet 2020’s unique community needs.”