For many families, welcoming a new baby brings joy as well as additional financial obligations. Unfortunately, for some families the basic items needed by their infant are simply beyond reach. Essentials for Life, a program run by the Karis Support Society and funded by United Way, ensures that these babies have diapers, wipes, formula, rice cereal and other necessities to ensure their well-being.
“Many of our clients have next to nothing,” says Deana, the Karis Support Society team leader who coordinates the program. “They may be out of work or just have low income. They are so thankful to have this support when it’s their last resort and they don’t know where to turn for help. We know that they are very grateful.”
Donations to the United Way campaign help the Karis Support Society to purchase the baby supplies, as well as supporting more than 40 other agencies and programs in the Central and South Okanagan. People needing baby items are referred by a variety of places, including other social service agencies, child protection and health services. A referral form is available from the Karis Support Society.
Leigh James and Eileen Smith are Public Health Nurses at the Rutland Health Centre, which serves many needs of babies and young children. They offer services ranging from immunizations, developmental screening, parenting programs, breastfeeding and many others. They refer many of the families who receive help from Essentials for Life.
“Essentials for Life is a huge support to many of our families,” says Smith. “We work hard to develop relationships with families, and being able to make this kind of assistance accessible for them is so good. We want to be a safe place for folks to share what is happening with them and their children. It’s not just about immunizing – we are helping to build healthy attachments, prevent future issues and work with families so they have positive outcomes.”
James agrees. “People we see may be worried or anxious for a variety of reasons related to their family situation and parenting. They may feel like they are going to be judged but we are able to reassure them and connect them with the appropriate supports.”
“For many of our citizens, it’s about not knowing where to turn when they need help,” says Shelley Gilmore, Executive Director of United Way.” United Way works to connect the dots and ensure that services in our community are front and centre for everyone to find. Ensuring we support the programs and services that inspire our community to build a stronger and healthier existence for everyone is our mandate.”
United Way works with partner agencies like the Karis Support Society, investing in three focus areas: building strong communities, helping kids be all they can be, and moving people from poverty to possibility. To join the movement, visit www.unitedwaycso.com
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.