Times Colonist – Rapid Relief Fund

by British Columbia

The Rapid Relief Fund is an initiative brought together in Victoria by several community leaders in an immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Times Colonist newspaper launched the largest fundraising appeal in their history, together with the Jawl family, and the Victoria Foundation.

This response was planned to address the impact of the pandemic on the greater Victoria community; providing funds to local food banks and not-for-profit charities, to support the surge of needs. After only five days, the campaign achieved its goal of reaching $1 million dollars in the first week. The goal of a second $1 million was set for the next week, and by Easter weekend more than $4 million had been collected.

“No one treats us like this – its really nice to feel cared for” – Victoria ARC client

Our Addictions and Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) and Stan Hagen Centre for Families were blessed to be two recipients of the first wave of funding. With donations down and increased demands, these funds were a timely reassuring gift from the community and were immediately put to work.

ARC installed a hand wash station in the lobby to ensure proper hygiene was kept by clients. One of the clients was overwhelmed with the care we provided him during this time. “No one treats us like this – it’s really nice to feel cared for”.

In addition to providing close to 600 meals daily through residential and open community lunch programs, ARC activated the Community Response Unit (CRU) to provide lunches to the 300 occupants at the temporary Topaz Park tent city.

Stan Hagen Centre for Families adjusted the number of emergency food hampers given to individuals and families, now providing hampers daily to those in need. Over 300 families come in weekly for fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy products.

A single mother of three lost her job due to COVID-19 and couldn’t afford food until her unemployment insurance came in. Family services provided her with groceries, along with three Easter baskets for her kids. She was extremely grateful and stated with relief, “We weren’t going to have Easter this year”.

It is heartwarming to see communities come together in times of crises. Thanks to wonderful people like the Jawl family, Victoria Foundation, Times Colonist, and the thousands of generous donors, we are able to answer the increased demands and continue to care for people in need on the Island communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and all year long.

Click here to learn more about the programs and services offered in the greater Victoria communities.