BY MARK WEBER
With a reach that extends to clients in Red Deer and across Central Alberta, The Lending Cupboard is needed now more than ever, according to a newly-released Community Needs Assessment Report.
But with that comes the very real demand for sustained support both from the community and the province.
It is to everyone’s benefit that The Lending Cupboard, located in Red Deer, and other community supports remain strong and well-positioned to meet the needs of Red Deer and Central Alberta, according to the report which was compiled by local consultant Danielle Klooster. The report was unveiled Tuesday morning at the Golden Circle.
According to the report, the parameters covered by the organization (with Red Deer as the central hub), run north to Wetaskiwin, east to Stettler, south to Drumheller/Carstairs and west to Rocky Mountain House. These boundaries result in a catchment area of about 65 communities of various sizes.
“Certainly some of the material (in the report) we have seen from the increased traffic that we’ve been seeing at the Lending Cupboard from the time that I arrived,” explained Dawna Morey, executive director. “We knew the facility wasn’t meeting our needs.
“So where do we go from there? Well, we didn’t want to be going into another facility and then two years later we outgrow that, too. So it was really about wanting to take a serious look at what the ‘curve’ is; what is coming at us.”
The Needs Assessment also sought to answer several questions including what is Central Alberta’s current demographic make-up, where are the demographics headed, what is the current and 10-year period socio-economic make-up of Central Alberta, and also what diseases, conditions and other health issues that require medical equipment are prevalent in Central Alberta among several others considerations.
Key findings include by 2036, roughly 20% of Alberta’s population will be over the age of 65, and by 2041, eight out of 10 Albertans are expected to live somewhere within the QEII corridor.
Current economic conditions have also driven more people into poverty – putting their health at risk.
Seniors are also the largest user group of The Lending Cupboard’s equipment. As people age, they require increased health services, including orthopedic surgeries. The largest group of people hip and knee surgeries are between the ages of 45 and 74.
“I think what we were really looking for was some evidence-based information that we can use to be able to make our case clearer to the government than what it has been to date.”
As demand for the services of The Lending Cupboard grows, so does the need for more staff, extended hours of operation, a larger facility, and therefore a larger budget, the report also shows.
These days, the organization runs very lean despite the demands, Morey said.
If traditional government funding sources are not accessible and corporate sponsorships are less available, The Lending Cupboard will need an innovative fund development strategy and a strong community engagement strategy to build its capacity and resources to meet the demand, notes the report.
Ultimately, the report says that priorities for the next decade include a larger facility, improved systemization and efficiencies, extended hours of operation, increased staff hours, volunteer attraction and training, partnerships with the community, advocacy to government, a building of independent regional capacity and substantially increased community support.
Visit www.lendingcupboard.ca for more details.