Kelowna and District Safety Council, a 38-year-old non-profit organization, is in dire financial straits.
The safety council teaches young children about road safety. It also offers a variety of courses, including babysitting and driver training.
“This year, we had a tremendous hit from the smoke in the Okanagan, and we weren’t able to field some of our courses because enrolment was down,” executive director John Grimes said.
While other non-profits often depend on government grants, the safety council usually covers most of its own costs through tuition for courses like motorcycle training, he added.
But without that cash to help cover its expenses, the non-profit is short at least $5,000 to keep the doors open until the end of the year, Grimes said.
“But the need is really greater than that over time,” he added.
The safety council has launched a three-year $300,000 campaign to upgrade its facilities and programs.
“How many lives we’ve saved, how many families we’ve kept together, we’ll never know, but we’re an important part of the community,” Grimes said.
The local business association is trying to help get word out about the need for donations because it said the safety council plays a key part in the community.
“We know a lot of people who’ve had their kids go there, their grandkids go there, and it would just be a real shame to lose that agency,” Laurel D’Andrea, Uptown Rutland Business Association’s executive director, said.
“In order for us to promote healthy businesses, we need community, because it’s the people who are in the community that come and support the local mom and pop shops. So it’s a win-win situation,” she added.
The safety council is hoping to offer courses on anti-bullying, suicide prevention and more programs for seniors in the future.
“We’re assuming that the smoky summers are the new normal in the Okanagan, and we cannot be as dependent on motorcycle training, so we’ve got to find other sources of revenue,” Grimes said.
He and the other staff member both had to reduce their hours to part-time to cut costs, Grimes said. The other employee subsequently accepted a full-time position elsewhere, he added.
The safety council wants to get word out that no donation is too small.
“We firmly believe that we’ve saved lives over the years,” Grimes said. “If you’ve had children that have come here and enjoyed the pedal cars or had babysitter training or learned traffic safety or first aid, and if you value that, we need you to step forward with donations in any amount.”
“This is not a fire drill. This is the real thing. We could close down if we don’t get the public support that we need,” Grimes said.Follow @Jules_Knox
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