Chilliwack families living in poverty will enjoy a host of new supports in the coming year.
Ruth and Naomi’s Mission expects to throw open the doors early next year on its brand new Family Centre, under construction behind the current mission in the heart of downtown Chilliwack.
Once open, the centre will considerably expand the mission’s current offerings, with a specific focus on families, in their many forms, says executive director Bill Raddatz. “We’re trying to make families better.”
Helping local families
When the centre is complete, a well-rounded network of supports will help families get back on their feet.
• A 36-unit apartment building specifically for low-income families, with rents at 40 to 50 per cent below market value.
• A nine-bedroom women’s recovery centre.
• A daycare to accommodate 20 to 25 children.
• Afterschool care and playground.
• A wellness centre offering two dentists, a medical clinic, chiropractor, family counsellor and pharmacy.
• A teaching kitchen.
“When we started planning, we were hearing from families who were living with other families, or camping in their backyards, and we know the high housing costs will only put more families in jeopardy,” Raddatz says. “Now we’ll have the facilities to allow a parent to go out and work, and know they have childcare in place through the mission. We’re giving a hand up, not a hand out.”
Mission staff are also finding more grandparents caring for children when parents might be unable to, or who may be battling addiction. This could provide a place for them to live while mom or dad is in recovery, for example.
“We’re continually getting calls from people asking to have their names added to a waitlist for housing, which tells us there’s a huge need,” Raddatz says, noting names won’t likely be taken until around September, when they’ll have a better idea of the project’s completion.
How you can help
While many locals are aware of the work staff and volunteers undertake at Ruth and Naomi’s Mission – everything from evening meals and a community garden to street outreach and extreme weather shelter, “we’re still amazed at how many haven’t heard about the vital supports we provide our community’s most vulnerable,” Raddatz says.
While the current project was largely funded by the province, and the city has waived a variety of fees and charges, community fundraising is also underway. “We’re hoping local businesses or organizations will step forward as naming sponsors for features like the daycare and the teaching kitchen,” Raddatz says, thanking Ecclesiastical Insurance for its generous $50,000 donation toward the afterschool program.