New Life Mission tackles red ink
The New Life Mission (NLM) has always been a Christian organization and the people who run it don’t want to hide that fact.
That’s why the agency is been actively courting the religious sector of the city, said NLM executive director Kelly Row, who started to make those reconnections shortly after taking the job in October.
Now, the mission wants to reach into the corporate world to help rid it of a deficit of about $60,000.
When he started the job, Row said, the red ink totalled about $200,000, but a successful Christmas campaign, along with other fundraisers, has whittled the amount down.
But, with government funding either being reduced or having a questionable future, Row wants the Kamloops community to step up.
The agency has created a partnership program, soliciting ongoing sponsorships of everything from the lunch program to the day room to the West Victoria Street building itself.
Packages vary in price; 100 lunches can be provided for $325, while having the right to turn the exterior of the building “like a billboard” with a sponsor’s marketing tools goes for $100,000 a year.
Without this, Row said, the programs now offered could be in jeopardy.
The church community has responded favourably to the renewed attention the mission is giving it, he added, although “there were some questions about our focus on Christianity.
“Some people we talked to wanted to know what we were standing for. There was a lot of curiosity.
“What I heard from people was, ‘Here’s how I see it and we want to make sure you’re on board,’” Row said of the responses he received from the faith community.
The new executive director has also been “mending fences that were burned during the turmoil” of the past year.
Two long-term recovery programs are not at capacity, a fact Row attributes to uncertainty about the future of the mission after its previous executive director quit and the board did not fill the position for months.
He said organizations like Interior Health Authority, which used to refer clients to the programs, stopped doing this but are now making those connections again.
Mission officials plan to meet with the city’s MLAs soon to discuss potential government funding, but Row said the reality is the agency can’t rely on government money to keep going.
It already receives $40 per client per day for the recovery programs, while the actual daily cost per client is $120.
The future of that funding is unclear, Row said.
A program to help clients develop job skills is about to see its funding cut by 30 per cent as of March 1, Row said, and he won’t be surprised if reductions like this continue.
But, in the end, it will be up to Kamloopsians — individuals, businesses and churches — who will decide if the mission continues, Row said.
The New Life Mission is at 346 Seymour St. and can be reached at 250-372-9898.