CORNWALL, Ontario – A United Way agency that helps families and friends deal with the passing of a loved one may close its doors next year.
The Cornwall chapter of Bereaved Families of Ontario is facing significant funding cuts in 2015, and may opt to completely close its branch, confirmed Traci Trottier, the agency’s program co-ordinator.
“We’re facing cuts from the United Way and we’re trying to find ways to keep the doors open,” she said, adding Bereaved Families wants to continue its operations.
But, the situation appears dire.
“Our doors may quite simply close and the need for our services is ever prevalent in Cornwall, SD and G and Akwesasne,” Trottier added in an email to local media partners.
Lori Greer, executive director of the United Way of SD and G, confirmed Bereaved Families has been told to brace for some changes next year, but added specifics are hard to come by.
“Our mandate is to fund specific programs within our agencies,” she said. “Not just general funding.”
When asked if Bereaved Families was receiving so-called general funding Greer could not confirm what has taken place in the past.
Greer has only recently been hired as the United Way’s executive director.
Danny Aikman, chair of the United Way board, said the decision is not specific to Bereaved Families.
“It’s not an easy decision to make,” he said of having to alert a local agency that funding could be curtailed.
Other agencies have been put on notice as well.
Aikman added the decision is based solely on the money that is available, and agrees there are plenty of agencies in Cornwall and area that do good work and reach out to the United Way for funding, but often have to be told there isn;t enough available.
Trottier said Bereaved Families is a vital component of the community, and suggested demand for its service continues to grow.
“We’re in more demand than ever,” she said.
Especially at this time of year.
“Christmas is a difficult time and a lot of us fail to remember that it can be (trying) for people who have just lost someone,” she said.
The agency has been a fixture in Cornwall for nearly 30 years.
As the run up to Christmas unfolds Bereaved Families is hosting a number of events to help raise funds and awareness concerning its service.
The 18th Annual Lighting Ceremony of BFO Memory Tree is taking place on Sunday Nov. 30 at 1 p.m.
The Memory Tree stands in quiet remembrance, paying tribute to those who will be missed this holiday season. A Memorial Tag is hung on the tree representing a special person who will be missed.
The Memory Tree will be displayed throughout the month of December thanks to Cornwall Square. Volunteers will be manning the Memory Tree from Nov. 30 to Dec. 23 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
Also, on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. a non-denominational candlelight service will take place at Knox St. Paul United Church in Cornwall.
The service will offer a chance to hear stories of strength from individuals who have lost loved ones.