A new organization, focused on providing financial assistance to area residents dealing with chronic medical issues, has been established in the Southwest.
Members of the South West Chronic Disease Support Inc. recently met to create its first executive committee, with Gloria Illerbrun named as chairperson of the new organization. Other executive members include Patty Wright (vice-chair), Brenda Waldron (secretary) and Chelsa Broom (treasurer).
The executive was selected at a meeting of the group on Nov. 8. The gathering culminated several months of planning and brain-storming by a core of volunteers. Other volunteers attending the meeting were Kathy Towle, Bonnie Fritz, Leanne Thomas, Gail Wallis and Leon Bourassa.
Members discussed a number of issues during the meeting, including plans to identify its geographical boundaries. The group is looking to provide assistance to people living in an area that would stretch south of the TransCanada Highway to the U.S. border and from Highway 4 to the Alberta Border.
It will stretch to cover communities such as Shaunavon, Eastend, Frontier, Gull Lake, Climax, Consul and others.
The group is also looking to contact the town of Maple Creek and neighbouring communities in that region, including the nearby First Nation reserve, to see if they are interested in being affiliated with the newly launched program.
The group is also looking to develop official bylaws for the organization. The bylaws could be approved at the next meeting.
A logo design, created by Leon Bourassa, was also adopted by the organization. Bourassa created a colourful design that features interlocking ribbons.
“It’s a very cool design,” said Waldron. “Ribbons are a universal sign of support.”
South West Chronic Disease Support Inc. is also looking to establish an application committee. The group will need volunteers to sit on a selection committee as well as creating guidelines and procedures for accepting application requests. The local group will be talking with members of similar organizations that operate in the Assiniboia and Mankota areas to see what guidelines and procedures they use.
A communications committee, led by Chairperson Chelsa Broom and Vice-Chair Leon Bourassa, has been set up to look after a number of projects. One of their first tasks was to create a web site which can be found at swcdsinc.org
The group has also started discussions about potential fundraising projects. A separate fundraising committee will be established with Gail Wallis and Patty Wright serving as co-chairs.
The group hopes to unveil its first major fundraising initiative in the spring.
The idea for the organization was first initiated last March when local residents started talking about a foundation to raise funds and disperse them to provide financial assistance to people needing to travel for medical reasons. The fund would be used to cover direct costs such as gas and accommodation, as well as offering financial support for other indirect bills such as child care.
Volunteers have spent the past months brainstorming ideas and getting much of the leg work in place to create the new organization. They have also reserved an official name for the new entity and need to incorporate as a nonprofit organization with the goal to be able to write tax receipts and raise money. The group is still waiting for official approval from the Incorporations Branch, although that confirmation is expected to be forthcoming.
“Although things seemed to stall at times, we’ve really accomplished a lot over the past nine months,” said Waldron. “We really want to make a big splash (with a fundraising project) in the spring. And when that is unveiled it will be almost a year since the time we first started the idea.”
The group isn’t looking to replace any initiatives that already exist, such as bank accounts that have been created to help someone facing an emergency health crisis or special events that are organized to raise funds on behalf of an individual.
The group is keen about making sure that any funds they raise stay in Southwest Saskatchewan.
They point to instances where local volunteers have worked to raise funds for initiatives that haven’t always benefitted local residents.
All of the money would be raised by volunteers and dispersed by volunteers, so very little would go to operation expenses.
The Cypress Health Region is providing the Teaching Room at the Shaunavon Hospital and Care Centre for regular meetings. The group will meet on the second Tuesday of every month starting at 7 p.m.
The South West Chronic Disease Support Inc. is still looking to attract members from across the region to join the group. Ultimately, it wants to have representation from communities throughout the Southwest.
Anyone looking to get involved in the organization or wants more information can contact one of the organizing members, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The group would also like to encourage interested persons to request to join the private Facebook page for updates, info on meetings, events etc.