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Non-profits line up

Joan Halvorsen

Groups make annual pilgrimage to council seeking grant money

There was creamy potato leek soup and baby greens salad as starters. Pan-seared scallops with langoustine sauce, peppercorn steak and chocolate mousse followed.

The occasion? The sixth annual Oak Bay Volunteer Services Society fundraising dinner, held Feb. 10 at Blighty’s Bistro on Oak Bay Avenue.

“We call it our pre-Valentines dinner,” said the society’s executive director, Joan Halvorsen.

The $125-a-plate dinner is just one fundraising effort undertaken by the organization, which provides one-on-one services to Oak Bay residents. Volunteers drive residents to appointments and take them shopping on errands. They also provide home visits, go on walks and help with reading and writing. Some make daily phone calls to seniors to make sure they’re OK.

The loss of a $10,000 provincial grant two years ago continues to cut into the group’s ability to provide those services. The fundraising dinner helps, as do donations and bequests.

This year OBVSS is asking the municipality to increase its annual grant to the society from $25,000 to $30,000 to help meet its 2011 budget of $237,630.

“This would help take off the constant pressure we feel to meet yearly budget needs,” Halvorsen said in a letter to Oak Bay council.

The request was referred to Oak Bay’s estimates committee, which meets in spring to decide which groups will receive municipal grants.

This week six other groups also applied for funding. Although only the Oak Bay Tea Party Society had its request for $7,000 approved that night, others, including the Maritime Museum of B.C. were referred to the committee. The Mexican Canadian Community Association had its request rejected outright.

In 2010 Oak Bay’s estimates committee received requests from 17 organizations seeking financial help.

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