Family SUpport & Folk U

May 19 Virtual Community Meeting: Family Support & Folk U

After hearing a number of concerns about the effects that COVID related isolation is having on youth, Desta Beattie contacted between 80% and 90% of the Cortes Island families with teenagers to see how they are coping. Her quiet, unassuming manner is almost the opposite of Maunda Aufochs Gillespie, whose bubbling enthusiasm is displayed in constant movement and ever changing facial expressions. Gillespie has also reached out into the community, giving it platform to express itself and planting seed money where it is most needed. Their ministries, Cortes Island Family Support & Folk U, were the focus of the eighth Cortes Virtual Community Conference on May 19, 2020. 

Cortes Island’s 2020 Grant In Aid Proposals

Both women submitted Grant-in-Aid proposals this year. Unless it finds $3,000, Cortes Island Family Support will not continue operations for another year. Gillespie is asking for $5,000 to $20,000 for Folk U’s micro-grant program.

Eight Cortes non-profit organizations are applying this year. Their collective needs far exceed the $25,000 that the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) allots Cortes Island. 

This year, Regional Director Noba Anderson invited all the non-profits on the island to take part in a participatory budgeting process. Thirteen responded. 

“These organizations have met three times in the last week, on Zoom, in an incredibly dedicated process  … I’ve been really impressed by the collaborated rather than competitive nature that might have existed in different circumstances. Of course there are more requests for funding than the funding we have and we met this morning for the final time and organizations are being asked to vote. Every organization that has participated is going to get a spreadsheet and they will allocate the full $25,000 … My commitment is to average all of those out and take that recommendation to the Regional board,” said Anderson. 

If this process works, Anderson may try to open the Grant in Aid decision-making-process up to any Cortes Islanders who want to participate in 2021.

The May 19 Broadcast

Anderson invited three of the organizations that submitted Grant in Aid applications to today’s conference. They were all projects of another organization and serve populations that are either vulnerable or would otherwise fall through the cracks. 

Unfortunately, the Cortes Island Women’s Centre could not attend. 

Cortes Island Family Support

Desta Beattie operates under the umbrella of the Cortes Community Health Association (CCHA) and has been trying to provide Cortes families with the resources they need since 2009. There are currently about 75 families in her email list. She mentioned a number of activities, including: 

  • hosting the book club, where there is childcare provided so that parents come together to talk. 
  • a car seat program for low income families
  • funding available to support recreational programming. 
  • the holiday gift program. 
  • funding for mothers who want to have their baby off-island 
  • She also organizes a few community events every year 
  • numerous community dinners and dinner clubs
  • She has been on the Cortes Literacy task force since its inception in 2011

Beattie’s most endearing statement was,“I try to get out at least the value of the wages that I receive.”

She has been communicating with a lot of Cortes families since the COVID crises began.

Cortes Island Family Support partnered with the Cortes Island Children’s Forest Trust to offer a weekly online children’s program, with an option to come together and chat.  

“I’ve see the value from the perspective of keeping families engaged with nature activities and I’ve seen the value in developing a skill set which I never thought I’d be promoting, screen time with children. But I have seen how it can be used as a tool. I would say it has been a very successful collaboration,” said Christine Robinson, of the Children’s Forest Trust. “The children are stepping up now and making suggestions, which is actually what we want – for the children to take leadership,” 

Desta Beattie’s work load has greatly increased in recent weeks and this grant application is to pay her salary. 

Folk U

Manda Aufochs Gillespie described Folk University (Folk U) as an experiment, “whatever we, the people of Cortes who are also the professors, students and genitors, want it to be.” 

She is funded by Decoda Literacy Solutions, which provides about $7,000 (each) per year to around 100 Literacy Co-ordinators around the province. Gillespie is Cortes Island’s Literacy Co-ordinator and described her job as “seeing the in-between spaces where we can do more to help individuals realize their highest potential.” 

Prior to COVID, this primarily consisted of weekly talks “where neighbours share their interests and skills with each other” at Linnaea Farm. Since then, she has taken to the airwaves as the host of Cortes radio’s Folk U Friday.

Seed Grants

One of the less known aspects of Gillespie’s mandate is providing seed grants, of around $100 to $600, to individuals and grass roots organizations that need them. Last year they gave out a total of just over $5,000. Coincidentally, the other organizations invited to this morning’s conference were both recipients:

“ … Cortes Family Support and the Cortes Island Women’s Centre both received tiny little grants last year. The Cortes Family support to run a parenting book club. It was only possible because we have Desta, who is already doing all the organizing … and could very quickly buy the books. The women’s centre received a grant to help fund their library, so that they could have books they could make available to the community …”

“ … Those are both literary examples, but we also funded a musical eduction program and things like that.” 

She stressed the idea that giving $500 to someone who can fill an immediate need can be as valuable as going through the lengthy process of obtaining $10,000 for a larger project later.

Gillespie is applying for a Grant in Aid for funding that can be used as seed grants. 

In the podcast she also talks about the advisory group that helps decide which individuals and organizations receive seed grants. 

What Would You Do With $10,000

Director Anderson asked both speakers what they would do if they received $10,000?

Beattie said she asked for funding to continue her current programs, but the youth programming could always take on more funding. Most of the programs are after school, which means that kids who attend cannot take the bus. Parents pick them up and not every parent can do that. They could hire a driver.  

In addition, “The kids love to go on off-island trips.” 

She mentioned a previous overnight expedition to Strathcona Park and day outings in Campbell River

Gillespie laughed, “I can spend money. This is the great beauty of the way my position is set up. It is a very minimally funded position. It only funds a few hours a week, but as you know we have managed to do hundreds of hours of programming with that because everything we get can go into programming. I would really like to solidly grow the seed grant program.” 

She cited the example of the Vancouver Foundation, which gives away thousands of dollars every year as $500 grants to local enterprises.

(There is much more in the podcast above.)

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