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Investing in local solutions to rural challenges
A mother and her young child had just fled a home marred by violence. They knew no one here, had no other family in Canada and had nowhere to live.


Tanya Dale, rural homelessness systems navigator with the West Elgin Community Health Centre, stepped in to help.  Using flex funding intended to fill urgent gaps in service, Dale helped the mother and child find a place to live, covered first month's rent until other income kicked in and sourced used furniture through volunteers.  Today, the mom is safe and on her way to getting a job, and her child is thriving in school.

United Way supports two programs in rural West Elgin: a $15,000 flex fund that provides one-time financial assistance to people who are unhoused or at risk of homelessness; and $9,000 for a Gift-a-Ride program that provides no-cost transportation to residents for urgent trips such as medical appointments in the city.

"Transportation, housing and employment are interconnected issues, especially in a rural community where there's no public transit and the housing supply is limited", says community health services director Barry Fellinger.  "People on a fixed income sometimes have to make choices between groceries, rent or taking a cab to their doctor's office  so it's a health issue too," Fellinger adds.

PICTURED:  West Elgin Community Health Centre employee, Dave Peskar, helps with Gift-a-Ride.