Everyone understands austerity: paring back luxuries and comforts to the bare essentials in order to make it through hard financial times.
But what does it mean when essential services that help some of our most vulnerable population must endure reduced funding?
This summer, the Maison de la Famille Quyon (the Quyon Family Centre) is closing one day per week for the month of June to handle some serious funding cutbacks. The Centre will be closed on Mondays, leaving staff and patrons to manage with a four-day work week.
Executive director Catherine Beaudet explains.
“Unfortunately we had to cut down on all the employees’ hours this summer,” she told Pontiac 2020 in an email. “Twice in previous years, we cut half an hour but the community didn’t really [notice] it. That’s why the Board members and the employees chose this way again this year.”
Although Beaudet hopes that her clientele won’t be too adversely affected, “we hope that people will see it, talk about it and realize we are not as rich as people think we are and we struggle like many, many other organizations.”
“Recently we had a good few years financially; we like to say that we are ‘the little organization that could’,” she wrote. “We added the monthly Bingo [games], the ice-cream sales, we do a lot of fundraisers. But now we have got to a point that we can’t keep doing all kinds of fundraisers, working evenings, week-ends. The employees and I are getting exhausted.”
Last year, a promotional video produced by a local film student brought the Family Centre sponsorship from Uniprix in Shawville. This fall, board members will organize a spaghetti supper to try to raise more funds. But these heartfelt efforts cannot bring in the kind of money the Family Centre needs to provide the services our community has grown to rely on.
“In early June, Centraide (United Way) will let the organizations know how much funding they will receive,” Beaudet continued. “We know that they haven’t reached their [fundraising] goal by 13 to 15 percent so we expect another cut. Five years ago, their funding [to us] was $35,000. This year we expect between $21,000 and 22,000 ... that’s a big difference. We are not mad or anything at Centraide. They are not cutting us personally; it’s [to do with] how much money that they [can] redistribute each year.”
Funding for the twice weekly under-fives playgroup at the Family Centre has not increased during the approximate 15 years it has been operating.
Financial support for the vital Back–to-School program which helps outfit needy kids with school supplies is set at $1,700 this year. Five years ago, the Centre received close to 5,000$.
“We get funding from Ministère de la Famille and Avenir d’enfant [which is] a new one that allowed us to get our hours back last time we cut them,” Beaudet said. “We get small amounts for specific programs. We are getting our first funding from the municipality this year. Some [funds come] from donations, some from profits from the Clothing Counter.”
“Since I became director, we worked hard and saved to have an emergency fund,” she said. “So if we look at our financial numbers for this year, we did well … but, because we [are] thinking of the years to come, we don’t want to use all our savings to compensate for the Centraide cut. We have to be strategic in our decisions. So it was ultimately decided to cut Mondays during the month of June. We will rotate our vacations so that we remain open during the whole month of July. We need to do more but with less. Or to more to bring money in.”
Once Beaudet knows the actual amount the Family Centre will receive from Centraide in early June, she intends to go to media to publicize their plight, as well as reach out to the other Pontiac organizations to raise awareness about the need for local support.
The General Assembly for the Maison de la Famille Quyon will be on June 29th at 7 p.m. at 1074 Clarendon St., Quyon.
Phone: 819 458 2808