‘Tears of joy’ over boost in community gaming grants

The surprise announcement last Monday by the B.C. government that additional community gaming grants have been made available has enabled some local non-profit groups to keep operating with minimal or no cuts.

Mike McLean and Velma Walker of the B.C. Schizophrenia Society are among those who are excited that their organizations have received a boost in community gaming grants.

Mike McLean and Velma Walker of the B.C. Schizophrenia Society are among those who are excited that their organizations have received a boost in community gaming grants.

The surprise announcement last Monday by the B.C. government that additional community gaming grants have been made available has enabled some local non-profit groups to keep operating with minimal or no cuts.

In Abbotsford, 59 groups – mostly parent advisory councils – found out they will receive a total of $392,000 in addition to what they had been previously told they will receive for the next year.

New Premier Christy Clark announced last week that across the province, an additional $15 million has been provided to help return funding to traditional levels for more than 2,000 groups.

The Center for Epilepsy and Seizure Education received the largest boost in Abbotsford – $120,500.

Laura Yake, director of the centre, said the money helped bring the facility above its previous year’s funding of about $205,000.

The center, located on Ventura Avenue, was told at the end of March that its gaming grant had been cut to $120,000.

“We were devastated. It struck a blow to our core programs and our clients services … What would we have to do to keep our doors open?” she said.

Yake said “tears of joy” were shed when the centre received word about the additional funds.

“We are so thrilled. It just means we’re going to be able to restore services and potentially build on what we’ve accomplished in the past.”

Staff, volunteers and clients at the B.C. Schizophrenia Society (BCSS) office on Montrose Avenue were similarly excited.

Mike McLean, president of the Abbotsford BCSS branch, said the group was already thrilled to find out late last month that they were getting a $43,000 grant after having received no money last year.

McLean said if the grant application had not been approved this year, the office would have had to close. This week’s notification that the society will receive an additional $10,750 was a bonus, he said.

The local BCSS can now think about expanding or restoring programs over the next year, he added.

PacificSport Fraser Valley – which offers programs for athletes, coaches and volunteers – has found itself in the same position. General manager Linda Palm said the agency was first told its traditional grant had been reduced from $50,000 to $25,000.

This meant planning for program cuts, and the biggest impact was to the Explore Sports summer day camps.

Those camps can now be retained, after PacificSport found out it will receive an additional $25,000, bringing it back to the previous year’s level.

Other local agencies receiving the additional grants are: Big Brothers Big Sisters ($57,500), Abbotsford Community Services ($52,950), the Fraser Valley Child Development Centre ( $18,250), the Abbotsford Learning Plus Society ($4,000), the Mt. Lehman Community Association ($1,650), the 2nd Abbotsford Scouts ($1,000) and the B.C. Old Time Fiddlers Association ($1,000).

The remainder are all parents advisory councils. These groups previously received a per-student grant of $20, which has been raised to $25.

The additional funds allocated to each school range from $465 to $7,530.

For more information about community gaming grants, visit pssg.gov.bc.ca/gaming/grants.