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SurreyCares celebrates local non-profits during Community Foundations Month

SCCF Executive Director Christine Buttkus talks about how the connectivity of the community has remained strong throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even with physical distancing this year, that hasn’t deterred non-profits in Surrey from connecting to offer support.

The collaboration between non-profit organizations in Surrey proves that social connectivity is alive and well. Not only is it alive, but the collaboration of non-profits in the city is benefitting those in vulnerable situations who need crucial support in this COVID-19 era.

That’s what SurreyCares Executive Director Christine Buttkus has noticed since joining our Community Foundation.

“Earlier this year, we were able to bring together all the grant recipients who received COVID-19 funding, whether they were funded through the Surrey Community Relief fund, our annual grants, or through the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund.”

“We brought organizations together virtually and they talked about what they were doing, their experiences, and some of the lessons they were learning.

“What was really great about that event was that individuals were connecting with each other. They were asking me for the contact information about other organizations so that they could collaborate to benefit the community. We’ve seen some great collaboration in the weeks following, which has been of great benefit to the community.”

There’s certainly been a barrage of tasks to tackle for the SurreyCares team this year, which was reflected in my conversation with Christine.

With our provincial government and the City of Surrey naming September Community Foundations Month, it seemed like a good time to talk to Christine about how the role of SurreyCares has changed in 2020.

How COVID-19 forced adaptation and increased community support

We’ve all had to adapt to COVID-19, and SurreyCares is no different.

That being said, the pandemic has put SurreyCares in a position to give aid to vital non-profits in our area.

“Obviously for us, we had the privilege of being able to distribute the Emergency Community Support Funds (ECSF). During the past few months, we’ve distributed more than $900,000 to organizations in Surrey. Additionally, we were able to distribute funds in Langley and White Rock”

In March, the foundation also worked with three partners, the Saheli Foundation, the Surrey Board of Trade and the Surrey Now-Leader to create the Surrey Community Relief Fund.

“Really, the entire team rolled up their sleeves right away to make a difference, by focusing on supporting organizations that support the most vulnerable people in the community. That includes food security, mental health, outreach and support to keep staff and volunteers safe as they deliver service.

“I’m really grateful that the non-profits have welcomed us to see their experiences, first-hand. It has allowed us to be able to communicate with others who may not be as aware of the challenges. It’s been great to touch base and hear how things have been playing out.”

With Christine only joining the SurreyCares team as Executive Director in May, she was thrust right into the fire, so to speak, during an incredibly busy and rewarding time for both SurreyCares and non-profits in the community.

“It’s been a very busy time because we’ve been able to support so many organizations in addition to delivering additional grants to the community. It’s been quite the workload but everyone has been really helpful and gracious about helping out during the times when we’ve felt stretched. And everyone’s gratitude towards our efforts has been greatly appreciated.

“The great thing about Community Foundations is that they have the capacity, with the support of donors and committee members, to make those grants every year and address the changing needs of the community over time.”

Reaping the benefits of community support

Like Christine mentioned, Community Foundations don’t just provide support through COVID-19 relief funds. There’s the ongoing management of endowment funds, along with annual grants which are awarded to non-profits in the region each year.

The end of September marks the time when we would normally be having our Grant Ceremony but of course, that will have a different look this year.

“With COVID, we’re having a very condensed version that will be held virtually,” Butttkus said. “We’re just bringing together non-profits, and we’re premiering a video of the work that the grant recipients have been doing.

“Hopefully, we can inspire everyone based on all the tremendous work that’s happening in Surrey. We wanted to launch this video during Grant Ceremony month, and it’s great to be able to tie it in with Community Foundations Month as well.”

Community Foundations Month is a great platform to raise awareness about the important work being completed by organizations such as SurreyCares, but it wouldn’t exist without the camaraderie of the community.

That’s something Christine has been well aware of during her first few months with SurreyCares.

“It’s been a fabulous experience working with everyone here at SurreyCares and in community. The board members have been amazing. Our volunteers and students and our entire team have pulled together so well to get through this time.

“The support from everyone I’ve been in touch with, whether they’re elected officials, donors or fundholders, they’ve all been fabulous about helping us move forward. We wouldn’t be where we are today without that support.”



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