Community organizations in need of support as they try to support others

Community organizations are feeling the pinch in Winnipeg as the need for volunteers and donations is at an all-time high.

The summer rush has organizations like Siloam Mission serving meals to between 400 and 500 people three times a day.

“We are definitely at the highest demand we’ve been since the pandemic kind of shrank things,” said Luke Thiessen, the communications manager at Siloam Mission. “We are going through a lot of food, a lot of water, a lot of clothes.”

On top of having to serve large numbers of people, he said the struggles are being compounded due to a shortage of volunteers.

“We’re having a really hard time getting back up to a full complement of volunteers in our kitchen, in our donation sorting.”

Even with donations coming in, no one is able to organize products which is causing things to pile up, all at a time where the need is the most – brought on by a combination of the pandemic and the economy.

“It just takes a small push to get from just making it work to needing some extra help.”

This struggle is also being felt by Harvest Manitoba.

“We’re continuing to see 40 per cent year-over-year demand for hampers,” said Vince Barletta, the president and CEO of Harvest.

Barletta said in June alone the organization fed more than 14,000 families.

“Rising prices are pinching everybody and we know it’s making it more challenging for many families who would normally donate to Harvest to do it as frequently,” he said, adding a drop in donations means the organization has to be pay more out of pocket.

“We’ve had to go out and purchase food because the donations simply haven’t been there over the summer months.”

Meantime, at 1JustCity, the need is rising as quickly as summer temperatures and the non-profit is converting its Osborne Village space into a cooling station for the weekend.

“Everything gets very hot, very quickly, and so those people on the streets who don’t have access to, especially water and cool space, it’s so important,” said Oksana Preachuk, the communications coordinator with 1JustCity.

She said a call for bottled water earlier in the week saw some success, but noted the growing demand for support can be unpredictable.

“You never know how many people are going to show up for this sort of thing,” she said.