Richardson Foundation generously partners with United Way Winnipeg to offer fifth year of Essential Needs Fund

The Richardson Foundation understands the value of small-scale capital investments at a community level, and the incredible impact such investments can have.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Richardson Foundation is partnering with United Way Winnipeg to offer the Essential Needs Fund. The Fund improves lives by providing support for capital improvement projects at United Way Winnipeg donor-supported agencies.

This year the Richardson Foundation approved 31 projects with a total investment of almost $400,000.

This brings the five-year total to $2.2 million, funding 144 projects since 2014.

Many of these projects—improving spaces, buildings, and adding resources for agencies that provide essential services in our communities—would otherwise be unaffordable for the nonprofit organizations.

One such organization is the South Winnipeg Family Information Centre (SWFIC), a Fort Garry agency that offers courses and workshops to strengthen families, as well as a Clothes Closet to provide free work-appropriate clothing to women who have either left an abusive relationship or are in a job training program.

With help from the Essential Needs Fund, SWFIC was able to open a drop-in space last November. Outreach Coordinator, Kelly Speak, says the space went from being a room with a bulletin board to being welcoming and highly functional.

The Richardson Foundation Essential Needs Fund helped create a welcoming and functional space for SWFIC's programming, including Baby and Me.

The Richardson Foundation Essential Needs Fund helped create a welcoming and functional space for SWFIC’s programming, including Baby and Me.

“Anybody can come through the doors now and get support finding resources, or just have a supportive chat and a cup of coffee,” says Speak.

The Fund brought the addition of adjustable tables, chairs, dividers to separate program spaces, six mobile shelving units for books and program supplies, laptops for staff to use with participants and a diaper change station.

SWFIC is running three programs in the upgraded space—Baby and Me, for new moms to learn and interact with their babies; Seniors Group, to provide activities and reduce isolation for older people; and Stay and Play, a developmental program for children aged one to five and their caregivers.

“That one is wild, it’s really full and really happening,” says Speak, of the Stay and Play program, which focuses on creating a healthy connection and attachment between parent and child.

Speak says the Essential Needs Fund grant has “made all the difference for us. Before, we didn’t have a welcoming space at all. Now it’s lovely—it’s easy to use, it’s safe, and it’s a multi-use space that we can set up every day for a different program.”