Town will receive, manage donations to help the unsheltered

The Town of St.Stephen has agreed to receive donations on behalf of a working group helping the unsheltered population, awaiting the town CAO's final draft of terms for a fundraising program.

At a meeting Wednesday, town council was told that the anti-homelessness task force is participating in a local Chase the Ace fundraiser. Coun.Vic Thiessen, who is also a member of the working group, said the group was invited to participate and could raise a "significant amount" of money for its projects.

He said to that participate and receive those donations, the organization receiving the funds has to be a registered charity, which the recently formed group is not.

"Right now, in order to participate, we need to have a registered charity now and the town is the only body that's able to do it in this time," he said.

Coun.Ken Parker raised a concern about whether the town staff will be able to handle a new process along with their regular operations and other donation programs, to which the staff replied that although there has not been a conversation with chief administrative officer and clerk Jeff Renaud, thet are keeping busy with their existing operations.

"I don't want our administration staff that has to do everyday routine to run this town, to be overburdened," Parker said.

Renaud was travelling on business and was not at Wednesday's meeting.

Following the meeting, Thiessen said there were "misunderstandings about what all the work would be." Council was comparing the Chase the Ace fundraiser to donations for the Canada's First Basketball Inc. project, he said, where "the donations are received through the town and the town has to provide a charitable donation receipt and do other things that are not required in this particular case."

He added that the program is "much simpler" and is only looking for "a registered charity to accept the funds and control the funds."

Mayor Allan MacEachern said during the meeting that town staff are not going to sell tickets for the homelessness program and the committee is just asking for a body to collect donations for them so the money can be managed with accountability.

Sean Morton, the town's deputy CAO, said he was also under the impression that the program is going to involve donation receipts and other complications, "but in reality, this is not the same."

"We just need somebody responsible to hold money," he said.

Council aproved the motion by a vote of 6-1, agreeing to offer the town's services for receiving the money. Renaud will be responsible for drafting the complete terms for the program and to present them at the next council meeting.

Thiessen said the working group is one of 15 organizations that are invited to participate in the Chase the Ace fundraiser. He confirmed that the first draw for the program will begin Nov. 17 but might extend to Nov. 24, with tickets selling for $5 each or three for $10.

Thiessen was not sure about the length of the program but said the working group will help sell tickets and run the lottery.

"Fifty per cent of the ticket money goes to the organizations," he said, which means that if the working group sells $10,000 worth of tickets, then it will get $5,000. Any money collected will be dedicated to the anti-homelessness task force's work to prepare a warming shelter and other future projects, he added.

Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal