Thirty local community service projects receive federal funding

Pictured: Travis Blackmore, Lionhearts; Stacy Kelly, Community Foundation for Kingston & Area; Mark Gerretsen, MP for Kingston and the Islands; John DiPaolo, United Way; Maegan McConnell, Red Cross; Shawn Quigley, Youth Diversion; Rob Adams, YMCA; Judy Sakell, YMCA; Sam MacLeod, The Spire; Katherine Porter, H’art Centre; Lisa Cassidy, Bereaved Families of Ontario; Sara Kennedy, Sexual Assault Centre Kingston; Scott Compeau, Big Brothers Big Sisters; Amanda Guarino, Big Brothers Big Sisters; Blake St. John, Lunch by George; Madeleine Nerenberg, KEYS; Elizabeth Bailey, Kingston 4 Paws; Laurianne Montpetit, ACFOMI; Julie Langan, John Howard Society; Allan Hetherington, Think First Kingston; Louise Potter, St. Andrew’s By-The-Lake United Church; Chloe Wheeler, Girls Inc.; Justine Marchand, Girls Inc. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

Community service organizations are often the first to identify community needs and create real change at the local level. But It is no secret that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many vital service organizations struggled with increased demand for their services, reduced revenues, declines in charitable giving, and a greater reliance on digital tools.

On Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, announced on behalf of Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jenna Sudds that nearly $2 million in funding had been awarded to 30 different community service projects in the riding. The announcement took place at Lionhearts, one of the recipient organizations, and representatives from three National Funder organizations — the Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations of Canada, and United Way Centraide Canada — took part. Representatives from 16 recipient organizations attended as well.

Gerretsen announced to the gathered service groups that the Community Services Recovery Fund will provide $1,977,327 for 30 projects across the riding to help community service organizations adapt, modernize, and be better equipped to improve the efficacy, accessibility, and sustainability of the community services that they provide. 

The three National Funder organizations, which Gerretsen said were selected to deliver the Community Services Recovery Fund to a broad and diverse range of community service organizations across Canada, reviewed each application and fulfilled them with the federal funding. 

Lionhearts Inc. Executive Director Travis Blackmore (right) expresses his thanks for the federal funding that has allowed Lionhearts to update accounting, cybersecurity, and compliance platforms. United Way KFL&A CEO John DiPaolo (left) and MP Mark Gerretsen (centre) look on. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

“We in the federal government knew better than to think that we could do a good job of figuring out where that money should go,” Gerretsen said. “That’s why we decided to partner with agencies in our community that can help us do that. And that’s where the United Way, Community Foundation, and the Red Cross come in. They worked tremendously with the government, utilizing that federal money to figure out exactly where the money should go in our community.”

Addressing representatives of the three agencies, Gerretsen said, “The reality is — and no organizations know this better than the organizations that you represent — Canadians took a hit through the pandemic, and you took a hit in terms of allowing people to access the services that you provide…The government of Canada, the government of Ontario, the municipal government cannot provide what you provide; it would literally be impossible.”

“You’re on the ground day-to-day helping people,” he pointed out. “The government recognizes that we need partners such as you to assist in delivering these key quality services throughout our community.”

“Charities and non-profits are vital to healthy communities. I’m proud to see that the Government of Canada’s Community Services Recovery Fund is helping 33 deserving organizations to grow, adapt, and enhance their services to meet our local needs,” said Gerretsen.

John DiPaolo, President and CEO of United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington, thanked Gerretsen and the federal government, saying, “This funding came to us in a tremendous time of need; [it] was critical to help all of us in this room get through a very difficult time.”

“But what this funding also did, one of its unintended benefits — it created an opportunity for our three national funding partners to work together to really stretch those dollars as far as we could go… so that opportunity was a special thing for us.”

Travis Blackmore, Executive Director of Lionhearts Inc., welcomed the gathered service people to the Lionhearts warehouse, pointing out how the Community Services Recovery Fund grant is being used by his organization: “It hasn’t just helped us recover; it has made us more resilient, efficient, and better equipped to serve our community. With this crucial support, we are implementing a new strategic plan and making vital upgrades to our accounting, cybersecurity, and compliance platforms. We are deeply grateful for this investment in our mission and the tangible difference it is making both for Lionhearts and for those we serve.”

Nearly $2 million in funding was awarded to 30 different community service projects in the riding. L-R: John DiPaolo of the United Way, MP Mark Gerretsen, Stacy Kelly of the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area, and Maegan McConnell of the Canadian Red Cross. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

Minister Sudds said in a news release, “Community service organizations are often the first to identify and respond to emerging needs, and they are often the ones best positioned to create real change at the local level. Through the Community Services Recovery Fund, the Government of Canada recognizes and supports the critical role these organizations play in building strong, resilient and inclusive communities. This funding will help these organizations expand their reach, build their resilience to better adapt to emerging challenges, and make a greater impact in the lives of the people they serve.”

The Community Services Recovery Fund money was awarded to community service organizations under three focus areas.

  • Investing in People – projects that focus on how organizations recruit, retain, engage, and support their personnel.
  • Investing in Systems and Processes – projects that invest in the systems and processes involved in creating the internal workings of an organization’s overall structure.
  • Investing in Program and Service Innovation and Redesign – projects primarily focused on program and service innovation and redesign using information gained during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the community, funds were allocated to 30 separate initiatives.

Canadian Red Cross:

  • Kingston Association of Museums, Art Galleries and Historic Sites                $99,822
  • ACFOMI                                                                                                                       $59,961
  • YMCA of Eastern Ontario                                                                                          $94,080
  • H’art Centre of Smiles Inc.                                                                                        $29,710
  • Skeleton Park Arts Festival                                                                                       $27,731
  • The Youth Diversion Program                                                                                 $13,766
  • Independent Living Centre Kingston                                                                    $91,971
  • Think First Kingston                                                                                                 $12,432
  • BFM Kingston Enterprises Society                                                                         $57,142
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of KFL&A                                                                            $196,560
  • Kingston Indigenous Languages Nest                                                                   $96,174
  • The John Howard Society of Canada                                                                     $192,080

Community Foundation of Kingston & Area:

  • Kingston Community Health Centres                                                                 $65,000
  • KEYS                                                                                                                          $99,913
  • BGC Southeast                                                                                                        $100,000
  • Kingston Symphony Association                                                                          $22,330
  • Kingston 4 Paws Service Dogs                                                                              $35,000
  • Lionhearts Inc.                                                                                                        $58,707
  • John Howard Society of Kingston & District                                                       $70,400

United Way KFL&A:

  • Alzheimer Society KFL&A                                                                                        $87,584
  • Bereaved Families of Ontario – Kingston Region                                             $10,700
  • Beth Israel Congregation of Kingston                                                                   $45,439
  • Girls Inc. of Limestone, Algonquin and Lakeshore                                        $98,000
  • Kingston Historical Society                                                                                     $12,000
  • Outreach St. George’s Kingston                                                                             $20,000
  • Resolve Counselling Services Canada                                                                   $92,400
  • Sexual Assault Centre Kingston Inc.                                                                      $65,522
  • St. Andrew’s-by-the-Lake United Church                                                           $7,760
  • St. Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston                                                               $35,997
  • Sydenham Street United Church                                                                            $79,136

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