By Charlie Hancock
From a modest facility on Stewart Street, NeighbourLink continues to offer an environment of warmth, gentle support and practical assistance to people in the name of the Vanderhoof community at large.
NeighbourLink representative Henry Bucher says that the weeks and months of winter can be a difficult time for people.
“The challenges associated with climate and weather, the subtle pressures and expectations of the Christmas season leave many people disheartened, lonely and depressed,” he said.
“Families often find their resources temporarily stretched to the limit and, through necessity, must turn to others for a helping hand. At that point, NeighbourLink is there for them.”
Throughout the year, NeighbourLink offers a variety of services and outreach initiatives.
Bucher said more than 60 people attend the Wednesday luncheons each week to enjoy the warm hospitality, a good meal and live gospel music. Each of the 10 member churches takes a turn to host this community event.
Twice per week a group of 15 mothers gathers with their young children to learn crafts, to play, sew, learn driving skills, make drums and to otherwise share and offer each other support and friendship.
The Act II Thrift Store is staffed by volunteers and is open to the general public Tuesday to Saturday each week, offering values and assorted treasures.
Bucher explains that the shop’s annual net revenue of over $30,000 goes directly to support the services offered by NeighbourLink to the community.
One of these services is the emergency shelter program. No one passing through Vanderhoof needs to spend a night without shelter. The member churches, through NeighbourLink, in conjunction with the local RCMP, provide safe shelter in emergency situations.
Another service provided by NeighbourLink is the Food Bank. It is an unfortunate fact of life that families and individuals, through no fault of their own, sometimes find themselves without the most basic nutritional needs.
This is more often the case during the harsh months of a northern winter. Supported in part by the Saik’uz First Nation, the Food Bank serves more than 100 individuals and families each month.
In addition, emergency food is provided upon request.
Bucher goes on to explain that all programs as well as the physical building and coordination are budgeted at just over $94,000 annually.
The Moms’ Group is supported through independent grants, while the remaining services are funded through the generosity of the people of Vanderhoof.
Member churches contribute $8,000, the Saik’uz First Nation provides $6,000 annually to the Food Bank, the Act II Thrift Store adds another $30,000, while $25,000 is received through private donations from the general public.
“When you are planning your Christmas donations, please keep NeighbourLink in mind, Bucher suggests.
“The generosity of the people of Vanderhoof has made it possible for NeighbourLink to offer these services. Without the continued help of the community, we would not be able to provide assistance to folks in need.”
In a plea for continued support, Bucher adds, “Your dollar, your food and clothing donations, are the lifeline to those among us who are struggling to get by.”