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Group helping the marginalized closes Aug. 31

Doors close as funding dries up, said executive director Gerry Dyble.

The Hope and Area Transition Society will close the HOPE (Helping Others Pursue Excellence) Project Adult Day Program on Aug. 31, according to a press release.

The program, which helps improve the lives of marginalized Hope residents through employment, educational activities and other assistance, started in 2013 and will fold next month due to a lack of grant funding.

“The closure of this project is devastating,” wrote program coordinator Allison Paterson. “It means the displacement of a large number of community members who are already marginalized and oppressed due to poverty, addictions and mental health conditions.

“It means an end to vital social and health supports being more easily accessible to many who live in isolation and poverty who have accessed this project thereby adding purpose and meaning to their lives and improving living standards.”

Grants from community organizations, with the society putting in a portion of its funds, paid for the program for the past two years. However, since April, the society has been funding the project by itself — an unsustainable model, said executive director Gerry Dyble.

“This year I was unable to secure funding through grants and I’ve gone to Fraser Health who had indicated that they’re putting $500,000 into the community to address health indicators,” said Dyble. “As of now, we haven’t heard where Fraser Health is putting that $500,000.”

According to the press release, the program supports people address issues that lead them to “chronic and debilitating health and social issues,” as well as offer a “safe environment for those who may have otherwise loitered on the streets of Hope, panhandled and/or engaged in criminal activity.”

“Hope has significant socio-economic issues which makes accessing services out of the community virtually impossible, therefore people are left isolated and alone,” said Dyble. “The HOPE Project was that light in the lives of many people and it makes me sad to have to close these doors on the most vulnerable in our community.”

Dyble said she is forced to provide notice to her staff, but is still hoping that Fraser Health comes through with its funding.

“We can’t continue to fund it any longer,” she said.

Its range of activities include art and crafts, helping people access health services and tax filing, educational and employment assistance.

“This past year, Disability Alliance BC came to the project and completed taxes for over 10 people and filed 25 years of taxes which resulted in back taxes, GST and Child Tax Credits payable to the clients,” wrote program coordinator Paterson.

They furthered that, on average, the HOPE Project has provided service to 24 clients daily and in the last quarter there were 1,106 visits to the site, approximately 20 per cent of those visits were from Aboriginal people.

Dyble added that the society will continue running the outpatient addictions clinic, which provides counselling, funded by Fraser Health.

As for the adult day program, Dyble said nothing is coming to fill the void.

“Doors are closing, and that’s it,” she said.