Regional relief fund helps keep Vernon's Elks, Georgette Shop operating

Help to keep doors open

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund support is allowing two Vernon organizations to keep their doors open.

The Elks Lodge and Canadian Mental Health Association's Georgette Shop can carry on their important community work, thanks to funds accessed through Community Futures North Okanagan. 

For the Elks, it will mean their doors can stay open and someday resume meat draws, Friday night suppers, catering, and hall rentals that lets the service club help children access hearing aids, play sports, and attain bursaries. 

For the CMHA, it means the Georgette Shop can continue support youth programs, a meal program, and the crisis line. 

“This is a recovery loan that’s filling a big gap in our community because these organizations would have had to make some tough decisions otherwise, and the ripple effect could have been far-reaching,” says Scot McNair, loans co-ordinator with CFNO. 

Unlike the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), the RRRF is available to social enterprises and businesses that are not incorporated or have no payroll. Both programs provide funding up to $40,000, and, until December 2022, no interest – and 25 per cent is forgivable if 75 per cent is paid. 

Heading in to the spring, the hall at the Elks Lodge was booked every weekend except one until September. But as COVID-19 hit and forced people to cancel anniversaries and weddings, and the team was forced to cancel Friday night suppers, the outlook for the lodge was bleak. 

"I had no idea what we were going to do. We could have only carried on for a few months. It would have been a shame to have to close our doors," said secretary-treasurer Maureen Sather.

Funds raised throughout the year allow the Elks to give more than $35,000 back to the community every year.

Tthe Georgette Shop also faced several weeks of unknowns as the thrift store was closed.

“We closed quickly because we knew it would be too vulnerable for our customers and our team. We have so much care between people, and that’s also what has made reopening so fantastic,” says Julia Payson, executive director of the Vernon CMHA. 

"Closing the store didn't just have an impact on our clients, staff, and volunteers here. It also meant the loss of a funding stream for our programs."

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