There are many people and issues that require immediate attention during these times of uncertainty. Charities have adjusted the way they operate on a daily basis and many have had to make significant shifts to fulfill their particular missions. Unfortunately, many charities may not weather this storm.
Our intention with the Charity x COVID-19 series is to share updates from a spectrum of charitable organizations to garner attention and inspire support for those in need.
Charity name: Coast Mental Health Foundation
Coast Mental Health Foundation was established in 2001 as the fundraising arm of Coast Mental Health which was established in 1972.
Core purpose and mandate:
Since 1972, Coast Mental Health has operated on the belief that recovery from severe mental illness is possible, and that everyone can find their meaningful place in the community – a place to live, a place to connect, and a place to work. Coast Mental Health’s community-based mental health services are the critical link between acute care hospital services and our communities for people living with mental illness. Recovery from mental illness is possible when people in need have access to three essential elements: housing, support services, and employment in their community.
Home is where recovery begins. Coast Mental Health connects people living with severe and persistent mental illness with secure housing as an essential part of their recovery. We provide a continuum of residential care services to almost 1,300 people at over 50 sites throughout the Lower Mainland.
From its earliest days, Coast Mental Health has supported psychosocial rehabilitation through a client-centered model of recovery. We believe in meeting people wherever they are on their journey to recovery, providing them with the comprehensive support services they need to pursue healthy and meaningful futures.
Employment is both a driver and an indicator of recovery for people with mental illness. Coast Mental Health provides an array of employment and education programs that help connect people with the skills and opportunities they need to pursue meaningful occupations and participate in their communities.
Our proven community-based programs transform the lives of over 4,500 people each year.
Coast Mental Health is committed to ongoing evaluation and improvement of our organization to ensure the best possible outcomes for our clients. To do this, Coast Mental Health underwent rigorous evaluation against standards of excellence for mental health services, receiving Accreditation with Exemplary Standing (the highest level possible) in 2016.
How is your organization impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, we have been forced to close some of our most impactful group services including the Resource Centre (in Downtown Vancouver) and Clubhouse (in Mount Pleasant), where more than 150 active members receive essential mental health support and basic needs every day. In addition, the requirement for social distancing has created additional needs for people who reside in Coast Mental Health housing.
For people living with mental illness, social isolation, and hunger can aggravate symptoms and make challenging situations even more difficult to navigate. To help address the gap left following the closure of the Resource Centre and Clubhouse, our teams have been working hard to provide take away meals for the members who rely on our service and supports during this difficult time. Our cooks are ensuring we are meeting this need, and we’ve regularly had 60-70 members coming to pick up their daily takeaway lunch from each location. We are also exploring opportunities to provide personal care packages for clients residing in Coast Mental Health housing, but – like so many – we are having difficulty meeting these unexpected additional needs within existing funding.
We are requesting funding to help us support the following necessary expenses so we can continue to meet these emergency needs: the cost of food and safe packaging for take-away meals; staff to coordinate, prepare, and distribute the meals; the cost of one-time personal care packages for members who need to self-isolate or observe social distancing due to the outbreak; and personal protective equipment for staff who work with the clients.
Support will allow us to reach even more clients and meet their essential and immediate needs, as well as maintain life-saving connections with our members at this challenging time.
How have your fundraising plans changed?
Every year, Coast Mental Health celebrates courage, compassion, and humility at the Courage To Come Back Awards. While raising critical funds for those experiencing mental illness, we spread a message of courage and hope to those who attend. This event is our largest funding source for the Foundation, and losing this revenue source now will have a massive impact on our ability to provide continuity of mental health programs. This event was expected to be held on May 7th, and we had budgeted to raise $2.2.million.
Due to COVID-19, the event has been postponed and, in light of the uncertainty surrounding the effects of the pandemic, we are not sure when/if we will be able to reschedule it this year.
If there is one story or message you would like to share with our community, what would it be?
Mary is a long-time Coast client, who relies on The Resource Centre’s services to survive. Mary has an income of $710 a month, and can barely afford to pay for her (subsidized) rent and some food.
Before COVID-19, every day, Coast Mental Health’s Resource Centre provided her with affordable meals and a community of peers and mental health professionals who helped her manage her mental illness. Without them, Mary risks losing her lifeline.
Your support will provide people like Mary with the help they need. Your generosity will let them know that their lives matter and that they will not be abandoned when they need it most.
How can one support your organization most effectively?
Financial donations will have the greatest impact and they will allow us to buy supplies in bulk, as well as allow us to build personal care packages that meet the different level needs of clients in our multiple housing sites.
Can donations be transferred electronically? If so, how?
Yes, donations can be made as direct bank transfers, as well as in the form of publicly listed securities.