Salvation Army: Community Donations Not Keeping Pace With Need
This is the first of a two part series on the Prince George Salvation Army
Prince George, B.C. – “A field of dashed hopes.”
That’s how captain Neil Wilkinson with the Prince George Salvation Army describes the reality for a growing number of local residents.
He uses the analogy to describe the so called “economic boom” the experts say is currently going on in northern B.C.
“I can’t prove this, but anecdotally we find that people are moving from some of the smaller communities in the area to Prince George because it’s the largest centre in the north and with the supposed boom that’s going on they come looking for work and high paying jobs,” says Wilkinson.
“So as the resource industry continues to develop, you know the news is great to talk about the potential jobs that are being generated but unless you’ve got the qualifications for those jobs, people are spending there last dime to get here and then realizing they don’t have a hope to have those jobs.”
He says that’s where the Salvation Army comes in, noting the demand for donations is growing 12% to 15% year over year.
“It’s an alarming statistic and it’s an unfortunate reality that we live in. And unfortunately our donations arent’ growing with the need out there,” Wilkinson says.
“Looking forward, we get to be the ambassadors of the community for the good will of the community. We’re honoured and privileged to do that, but we can only give what we’re given, so as the need continues to grow we need to somehow figure out a way to help people and that’s really what we’re working on.”
He refers to their clientele as “guests” as a way to bring a sense of dignity to those in need.
And Wilkinson says those “guests” don’t always fit traditional stereotypes.
“I just had the privilege of meeting a lady on medical EI. She was injured and the nature of her injury didn’t qualify for WCB. So as a result she doesn’t have the funds to get the necessary medication and she’s not down and out.”
He adds the people who access Salvation Army services “are your friends, your family, your neighbours. Hunger knows no boundaries.”
Wilkinson admits “I’ve often heard a stereotype of somebody who’s unwilling or unable to work, and there are those people that fall into that category, but by far and large they are just people going through tough times.”
Tomorrow, Captain Neil tells 250News about a new program helping people to reach their full potential.