This article appeared in the Jan. 10, 2018 issue of the Interlake Enterprise…
The Riverton & District Friendship Centre recently purchased two properties which will help propel the organization toward increasingly lofty heights.
Purchases of a 3,000 sq. ft. building at 89 Main St., formerly Riverton Building Supply, and a duplex at 279 Park Ave. were made possible by a $409,000 federal grant under the Homelessness Partnering Strategy.
The large building will be the new site of RDFC’s biweekly food bank program which has been operating since 2003. The food bank was first run from a small space on Main St. which was quickly outgrown and later moved to its current location at the Riverton & District Friendship Centre on Laura Ave.
“We have outgrown our space again and the food bank basically feels like it’s taking over the building,” said RDFC Executive Director, Tanis Grimolfson.“We have the 400 sq. ft. area where we service people. On food bank day it spills out into the whole building.”
The grant will cover additional costs of repairs, new equipment, such as a commercial walk-in cooler and freezer, and upgrades, such as a loading door to accommodate trucks.
“We hope to be really efficient, with lots of shelving and a nicer, bigger space for people to come in. We hope to get everything set up the first week in April and be operating in May,” Grimolfson said.
RDFC currently has 129 families registered with its food bank. On an average, 65 families rely of its support every two weeks.
“We might change to a new format, maybe setting appointments, so that people don’t have to wait as long. Sometimes it can be a two-hour wait for people to get their hampers,” she said.
“We’re thankful we have so much community support for the food bank,” Grimolfson added. “All the schools in the area usually do one or two food drives each year. Menville, Riverton and Morweena youth groups also do food drives for us. Riverton Gospel Chapel provides four litre jugs of milk for families. Sobeys provides bread and a lot of baked products.”
In addition to the expansion of the food bank, RDFC is set to launch a brand new transitional housing program which will be geared to families.
“I’m very excited,” Grimolfson said. “We’ve been trying to get our first housing project for at least 10 years. We were almost successful at securing funding for a 4-plex unit. However, we did not own the property and the funding fell through.
The duplex which RDFC has just purchased, has two bedrooms and an attached garage on each side and will be able to accommodate two families at a time.
“The transitional housing will be temporary, families can stay maybe up to four years. We’re going to help them find permanent housing in the area and new families can then move in. It’s going to be affordable housing, not necessarily low income housing,” Grimolfson stressed.
“In the long run, we’ll have helped individuals and families stabilize their lives which will essentially lead to more engagement in the local economy, therefore taking pressure off other social programs,” she said.
“With our Chase the Ace funds we will be purchasing more land in Riverton so we can build a brand new duplex or 4-plex,” Grimolfson said. “Housing is very much needed in Riverton. The new apartments are all full.”