Thank you to everyone who donated food, money and time to help out those affected by the floods.
We are also grateful for the leadership of our city, local First Nations, police and departments as well as search and rescue and during this province-wide emergency. So many other community organizations, churches, temples and individuals have given selflessly of their time and resources to make sure evacuees and those stranded had shelter, food and emergency support.
From volunteer helicopter pilots making rescue flights, to farmers helping evacuate the livestock of their neighbours, to people opening their homes to strangers, we are seeing the best of humanity.
Food Bank Support
We’ve put together a few of the ways we’ve been able to help so far thanks to your generosity. We weren’t able to list all of the amazing people and organizations that stepped up over the last two weeks but please know every call, offer to support and donation is so appreciated.
In the initial days of flooding, the shelves at the Food Bank were getting bare due to supply chain issues. In addition to purchasing food weekly, the Food Bank normally recovers fresh food from local grocery stores and receives produce, dairy and egg donations through farmers and local businesses.
It was an anxious time for many individuals who use the Food Bank as they often don’t have reserves of food and may not have the resources to travel to other towns to purchase supplies.
After an appeal to the community on Wednesday, November 17th, donations came streaming in. Numerous schools, businesses and organizations gathered funds and pallets of food.
Due to the generosity of the community, we were able to ensure that food supplies were not disrupted for the thousands of individuals and families who depend on the Food Bank. Food Bank staff working closely with local grocers to maintain supply and adapt menus as needed.
Whether it’s from the flooding, COVID or other circumstance, there are already 200 more families register to receive a Christmas hamper and thank to the generosity of donors we are able to meet this increased need.
The Food Bank , whether or not they were directly affected by the flooding. We recognize that it can be difficult to ask for support but please know that there is an entire community who is here for you and wants to help.
Sharing Food Bank Donations
The Archway Food Bank has also acted as a hub to receive donations and pass them along where needed including to Agassiz, Hope and Chilliwack through Food Banks BC.
Through Food Banks BC we learned that the Boston Bar Food Bank was precariously for the daily hot meals they were providing to 500 community members . With the support of Clearway Rentals securing a private chartered helicopter we were able to send 1,200 lbs of frozen meat. An additional 10,000 lbs of non-perishables was then sent via truck after obtaining approval from the Ministry of Transportation.
Supplies including pallets of water, fruit and disposable cutlery and plates were delivered to some affected farms in the Sumas Prairie.
Donations piling up at our Montrose reception area
Food Bank staff Anne and Matt delivering collected diapers
Boston Bar residents with food from the Archway Food bank and Locality delivered by Clearway Rentals.
Supporting Temporary Foreign Workers
Our Legal Advocacy for Agricultural Workers program supports migrant workers and temporary foreign workers who work on farms in the Fraser Valley area. Hundreds of these workers were displaced by the flooding and face an uncertain future as they are worried about being without work or sent home. Workers often depend on this income to support their families back home.
Most temporary foreign workers have a closed work permit which means they are tied to a single employee. Staff have been advocating with Service Canada around possible support during this emergency or allowing changes to their work permits so they can work for another employer in the same industry. Large numbers of workers do go back home around this time of the year but there are many workers that are still here.
Program staff worked with several organization including the Global Network MX BC chapter, Progressive Intercultural Community Services, and the Mexican Community in Vancouver to provide mental and physical support for hundreds of individuals.
Staff were able to provide food purchased with donations, and from the Food Bank to several sites where workers are staying. Some workers are staying at Tradex, camps or alternative housing provided by their employers. Staff have also coordinated the purchase of socks and underwear and other warm clothing. In the first week, staff provided support to 137 men and 15 women who were affected by the flooding. Within the first three weeks, they supported 380 workers with various benefits, food and warm clothing.
Our legal Advocacy Program will remain in close contact to support ongoing needs of the farm workers in the community.
Some of the culturally appropriate food collected for temporary foreign workers
New Drop-In Shelter – The Cabin
The Cabin, an Abbotsford drop-in centre, officially opened its doors on Tuesday, November 16th, ahead of schedule to address an immediate need for those experiencing homelessness.
The space provides shelter, warm drinks, food, and care from 8am to 8pm when extreme weather shelters for the unhoused are typically closed. Staff are working towards staffing this centre 24 hours a day.
This unique collaborative, peer-led initiative funded by the Union of BC Municipalities is led by Archway in coordination with the City of Abbotsford, Drug War Survivors, 5 & 2 Ministries, Abbotsford Restorative Justice, and Impact Society.
Community members showed up on the first two days with an abundance of donations of clothing, tents, and sleeping bags. Some of the excess donations were given to other service organizations, and the evacuation centres.
The Archway Community Van Service is currently assisting the Drop-in Centre with transportation for clients to extreme weather shelters.
Some of the peer support workers along with project co-lead Marcella (on the right) at the Cabin.
Family Centre & Best for Babies
When families who attend the Archway Family Centre or Best for Babies group had trouble accessing supplies they turned to program staff. Staff picked up donations from the Food Bank and local hub Locality and distributed the diapers, wipes, formula and gift cards to their clients.
Child Care Resource and Referral
The Archway Child Care Resource and Referral program supports 139 local daycares and parents. Staff have reached out to the local childcare facilities to see how they were impacted by the flooding and what they might need. They are helping replace supplies at affected daycares, including one on the Sumas First Nation Reserve.
Checking in on Seniors
Our Senior Services department checked on their clients and made sure they had resources and information as needed. Some clients were cut off from their normal support systems due to road closures and evacuations.
During the floods, Meals on Wheels provided some participants with extra fresh and spare frozen meals as needed.
Family Centre and Best for Babies staff Tania and Liz with essentials for families they support.
Services for Youth
The Archway Youth Resource Centre and Foundry provided clothes for youth affected during the flooding and youth were able to access walk-in mental health counselling at Foundry.
Staff also arranged for rides and support for youth disconnected from their homes and workplaces.
Immigrant Settlement Support
Settlement Support workers are working with some clients who had to evacuate quickly and connecting them to additional resources as needed. The Community Connections program linked up affected clients with resources at the Food Bank and local churches.
Clothing available to youth at Foundry Abbotsford
Internal Staff Support
Some Archway staff have themselves been evacuated from their homes, are dealing with the damages of the flood, or are cut off from work and/or their own homes due to road closures. We are offering work from home opportunities, extending special paid leaves and coordinating support as needed.
We will continue walking with our clients through this difficult time and reaching out to meet community needs as they emerge. In addition to ensuring that everyone has access to food, our staff will support our clients as they recover financially and mentally through peer support, counselling and outreach services.
Thank you for enabling us to respond to emergencies and supporting your neighbours in BC.
Maggie, one of the many individuals, groups and organizations who brought in donations with Archway Executive Director, Rod Santiago.
Other Ways to Support Our Community
We are continually amazed at our community’s willingness to help out. If you are interested in other opportunities, please see some ideas below.
Support Youth Mental Wellness at the Foundry
The BC flooding is the latest disaster making some youth feel hopeless about the future of their world after an already tough two years. They’re still dealing with the triple threat of COVID, the opioid crisis, and high rates of unemployment.
Young people are experiencing the highest increases in rates of anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and depression as well as increased difficulty accessing services or meeting financial needs.
Foundry Abbotsford offers free walk-in counselling for people ages 12 to 24 to help youth with their immediate mental health needs.
Foundry is raising funds to support counselling and up until December 31st all donations will be matched dollar for dollar up to $10,000!
“I honestly know for a fact I would not be here, if I didn’t come to the Foundry.
And it’s scary to think that that one day it could just not have funding and it might not be here. Because every single day, I know the Foundry and the staff here makes a big difference in youth’s lives.”
Every year, the Archway Food Bank coordinates Christmas hampers and gives caregivers a chance to choose presents for their children. Already this year we have over 200 more families signed up than in 2020, making this the highest enrollment in nine yars.
Toys can be brought to the Food Bank for the Christmas Bureau or you can make a donation.
Archway staff member Vicki with donated toys at the 2021 Toys for Tots event
Volunteer Drivers for the Extreme Weather Response Shelter
The Abbotsford’s Extreme Weather Response is currently in need of volunteer drivers for emergency shelter transportation.
Volunteers are needed 7 days a week for short late night shifts over the next few months. And to protect our vulnerable clients, we ask that volunteers have current criminal record check and first aid.
If you or someone you know is interested, please contact Josh at 604-870-3763 or by email at email@example.com for more information.
Gift Wrap Volunteers in 2019