The Housing, Health, Shelter & Community Services Fund

Cool Aid’s Jeff Keays and  Christopher Geater in the  courtyard area at Cool Aid’s  community centre

Victoria Cool Aid Society first opened its doors in 1968. Since then, it has grown from offering emergency shelter to advocating and working towards ending homelessness.

The Housing, Health, Shelter & Community Services Fund offers a means for community members to make a positive impact in this area.

“We wanted to set up a way for people to make a long-term gift to Cool Aid; to give people a different way to give that would keep giving for years and years to come. We also wanted it to be flexible, to support any of our services that need extra support,” explains Alan Rycroft, community relations.

The fund was established by creating specific policies around undesignated bequests. When monetary gifts are left to Cool Aid without the donor specifying where it is to be spent, 60 per cent or more of the bequest is put towards building housing for the homeless, and at least 30 per cent goes into the fund. The remaining 10 per cent or less is used to promote other legacy gifts in the community.

The fund has been operating for seven years.

“Establishing the fund was one of the first things I did when I started at Cool Aid,” says Rycroft. “I am really pleased about the number of bequests that we are receiving and how they’re contributing to the fund’s growth. When people make an end of life gift, they want it to keep giving for a long time.”

So far, the fund has been used to support the Every Step Counts Program.

“The Victoria Foundation brought this program to Cool Aid. It’s designed for people having problems with housing, whether it’s because of unemployment, addiction or other issues. We include volunteers and employees and we gather as equals to do some stretches, walk or run as a group, and then have some nutritious food. It’s a means of bringing diverse people together in a healthy activity. We see it as very important, but we’ve found it difficult to find funding over the years.”

Moving forward, the fund can be put towards any charitable purpose at Cool Aid.

“That’s the beauty,” says Rycroft. “There are no strings attached. We can use it where it’s needed most.”

This is the first fund of its sort at Cool Aid.

“I can see the possibility of establishing other endowments in the future, perhaps for specific funds,” says Rycroft. He has ideas of funds for building maintenance or for the pets of people who are homeless or poor. “Establishing the fund has been a very positive experience. It’s truly a legacy.”

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