Gifts from the Heart
For thirty years, SIRCH Community Services has had a mission. As needs in the community become apparent, especially gaps and issues affecting those most vulnerable, SIRCH often develops and implements programs to help.
One of these needs identified is for enough healthy food during challenging times.
According to Statistics Canada, 17.2 per cent of Haliburton County households are considered low income. In fact, Haliburton County has the second highest level of low income households in all of Ontario. This means many households struggle with putting food on the table. Parents may go without meals to feed their kids. Seniors’ fridges may be empty. Food insecurity affects health and brain development.
Through initiatives like Community Kitchen, SIRCH tries to make those tough times easier.
“It’s important to have foods that give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health, feel good, and have energy,” said Jay McIvor, SIRCH’s Food Initiatives Coordinator. “Many individuals and families in the county really can’t afford nutritious food when they’re struggling to pay bills or when they’re ill. One of the ways SIRCH is working on this issue is through the Community Kitchen,”
In the Community Kitchen, volunteers make healthy meals that are then distributed through local food banks and community agencies.
“Last year, the Community Kitchen made 3,600 meals for local residents,” said Jay. “Many people are unaware that SIRCH’s Community Kitchen receives no funding from government. Without the generous support of donors, we’d be unable to operate.”
Ken Mott of the Wilberforce Food Bank has seen the effects of Community Kitchen meals first hand. “Our clients really appreciate the food prepared by SIRCH’s Community Kitchen. The food bank’s clients often struggle to access nutritional food, so SIRCH’s efforts to provide meals that are tasty and nutritious makes a huge difference to people’s lives. Keep up the good work!”
As a non-profit charitable organization, SIRCH relies on the financial contributions of individuals and local businesses to help accomplish its mission. Each fall, SIRCH launches Gifts from the Heart as its community fundraiser.
“This is the eighth year of SIRCH’s Gifts from the Heart campaign,” said SIRCH Board President, Barbara Fawcett. “While the campaign has evolved and grown over that time, ultimately it’s about supporting a local organization that works in the local community for the betterment of local residents.”
To contribute to this year’s Gifts from the Heart campaign, visit www.sirch.on.ca/gifts or phone 705-457-1742. You can also visit SIRCH’s offices Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., located at 49 Maple Avenue, unit 4, Haliburton, to make a donation in person.
Last Thursday, a woman (we’ll call her Mary) stopped in to Lunch Is On Us to pick up lunch for herself, and for a friend who was grieving over the loss of a loved one. The friend had told her she wasn’t eating much, so Mary thought some goulash soup and chicken pasta, along with company, would perk her up a bit. “I grew up with goulash” she told the chefs, Jay and Lydia, “It’s like comfort food to me.” She left just before meal service was closing.
At 2:15, Mary came flying back in the door. “Do you still have food?” she asked, slightly breathless. Jay assured her there was some left so she got the same orders again, explaining as she waited. As Mary had been walking to her friend’s house, she passed a woman walking a dog. They said a few words, and the other person confided that she was just in town that day to support someone going through cancer treatments. Mary listened and then thrust her bag with the two lunches at her. “Here take these,” she exclaimed. “They will be fairly easy for your friend to eat and I can go and get more.” She explained that Lunch Is On Us is all about connection and that they were free from SIRCH. With a smile, the woman took the lunches from Mary, thanked her, and headed back to her friend.
This is exactly what Lunch Is On Us is about. Making a winter day a little less lonely, a little less isolating—and a lot more bright for the Haliburton County community.
From November through March, SIRCH offers a free lunch once a week in Haliburton Village. Since we started in November, we’ve served 329 guests 129 main dishes, 127 sandwiches, and 211 soups and salads! All free. All done through donations, sponsorship and fundraising.
Gifts from the Heart is our major fundraiser and it supports Lunch Is On Us. To contribute to this year’s Gifts from the Heart campaign, visit www.sirch.on.ca/gifts or phone 705-457-1742. To make a donation in person, you can visit SIRCH’s offices Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., located at 49 Maple Avenue, Unit 4, Haliburton.
We hope to see Mary back every Thursday. And we hope to see you at SIRCH Central too (2 Victoria Street, Haliburton). Come and eat in, tell some tales, relax. Or take food out and share with a friend. Lunch is on us.
When you Google “giving” the top two definitions are “providing love or other emotional support” and “to freely transfer the possession of (something) to (someone).”
Giving Tuesday, on December 3 this year, is a global movement for giving that takes place each year after Black Friday. It was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Now it is a movement—an international day of charitable giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season.
What organizations would you like to provide your support to? It’s something we all might want to think about. What causes are dear to my heart? Have I or a loved one received help from an organization or group during a difficult time? Is there an issue I feel passionate about? Is there a condition I want to change? Is there a service in this community that enriches the lives of my neighbours? Where can my donation make a difference?
Involve your family and friends in the discussion. It’s never too early to start the conversation with children either. Ask them what they care about, or would like to change. If they’re older, encourage them to research some charities and choose one, then to donate a small amount. Even a little makes a difference.
As a society we are known by how we look after and support those most in need, and those most vulnerable. Wherever you give, give generously, with a caring heart.
-Gena Robertson, Executive Director, SIRCH Community Services
“Charities are a key part of our society and our economy. They are integral to our conception of what being Canadian means. In every community across the country, they deliver health, education and social services; they cater to our cultural, recreational and spiritual needs; and they work to protect animals and our natural environment. They provide opportunities for personal growth and community engagement; they offer established and regulated ways to fulfill our philanthropic goals; and they employ a significant proportion of the population. Although the money charities use to fulfill their missions comes from many sources – including government, business, and the sale of goods and services – almost all organizations rely to some extent on donations from individual Canadians.”
– 30 Years of Giving in Canada, Imagine Canada, 2018
Our social safety net is one of the very reasons that Canada is considered one of the best places in the world to live. According to Imagine Canada (formerly the Canadian Center for Philanthropy), Canadians give an average of $200 to charity every year. The top 4 reasons they give are:
- Compassion for a cause they personally believe in
- A desire to make a contribution to their community
- Belief in the cause of the organization
- They have been personally affected or know someone that has been personally affected by the cause the organization supports.
Canada, as it turns out, is a very generous country ranking third of 24 countries in their contributions to charity, measured as a percentage of GDP (Charities Aid Foundation, 2016). We are topped only by the United States and New Zealand. That’s something to be proud of! Ontario ranks third lowest of six regions of Canada for the number of donors, but second highest in average amount donated.
Clearly some of those generous donors want to support Haliburton County. We continue to be amazed and gratified at the outpouring of generosity of donors who support our Gifts from the Heart campaign. Families who are buying a “gift” for SIRCH as stocking stuffers. Businesses who are donating in the names of customers and staff. Parents who are making several small donations (and get getting gift cards from us) to give to their children’s teachers, instructors and coaches. People who have received our services and are paying it forward. And those of you who are opening your hearts and pocketbooks to help us level the playing field for those among us who are most vulnerable and/or experiencing difficult times.
We take your generosity seriously. We will spend your money wisely and on those most in need among us. We will create resilience and confidence with it. We will ensure every dollar stays in Haliburton County. We will treat every dollar with respect. That’s our promise to you.
-Gena Robertson, Executive Director, SIRCH Community Services
The words thank you do not seem adequate enough to truly express how MUCH we appreciate our wonderful and generous community who once again made a difference in our Gifts from the Heart campaign! Our fundraising goal for 2018 was $30,000 and we are so happy to announce we have exceeded our goal and raised, thanks to you, a total of $30,683!
The support we received goes beyond the dollars that were donated and includes in kind donations, local media partnerships, spreading the campaign through social media, business sponsorships and so much more.
The Gifts from the Heart campaign supports our Community Kitchen and the thousands of free meals we give away to community members in need due to poverty, illness or other circumstance. We have no government funding or base funding for that program and rely entirely on donations, so your gift is very, very meaningful to us.
SIRCH actually started Community Kitchen in 2012 when we found out that families in some of our programs had less than $200 a month left, after paying their heat, rent and hydro. That $200 had to feed their families, pay for transportation, unexpected bills etc. That’s $6.50 a day! Our mandate has always been to look for gaps in health and social services and to develop innovative ways of meeting those gaps, and in 2012 we started to seriously focus on programs that help address the complex issue of poverty. Not just food but also helping people gain resilience,employment skills, needed supports/resources and confidence.
Although our food programs run year-round, winters here can be especially tough as the employment rate drops to 44%. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and the success of the Gifts from the Heart campaign, we will be able to provide free healthy food to those in need, distributed through the Haliburton, Wilberforce and Cardiff food banks, as well as other organizations. Our Community Kitchen program meets regularly and if you would like to see your donation in action or get a tour of our kitchen please do not hesitate to contact us.
We want to thank you for continuing to put your trust in SIRCH and supporting the programs that we offer. The start of a new year is a wonderful time to reflection the past but more importantly, to look towards the future. Here at SIRCH we are both optimistic and hopeful about what 2019 holds in store for our organization and the community. Thank you for being a part of the journey with us.
“Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.” Kathy Calvin