A Table and Some Chairs – A Basic Necessity

The Cause

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) is a social justice organization that has been serving the disadvantaged in the Capital Region of Alberta since 2000 ( ssvpedmonton.org.). We are part of a worldwide movement that currently operates in 140 countries with the help of 800,000 volunteers. In March 2012, SSVP was accepted as a Non-Governmental Organization at ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council). In Edmonton our organization runs exclusively on the energy and labour of over 570 volunteers and is supported financially by donations, proceeds of charity sales, and support from charitable foundations and community-minded organizations and companies. In 2016, we assisted 3,081 families including 3,618 children. We do this work totally as volunteers, we don’t have paid staff.
Our mandate is to serve and minister to all those in need, regardless of creed, ethnic or social background, health , gender or another society delineation and to promote their dignity by serving with love, respect, justice and joy and without judgement.
We provide those living in poverty with emergency goods needed for basic daily living such as beds, bedding, table and chairs, cutlery, pots and pans, emergency food, grocery cards and clothing. We visit clients in their home and deliver what they need directly to their home. We are the only organization in the Edmonton area that visits those in need at their home. During a client’s visit we also advise and help them access other programs and services. We assist clients with bus tickets, bus passes, and gas cards. This assistance enables client to get to job interviews, go to work or school, get to medical appointments, access the food bank etc.

Our idea “ A Table and Some Chairs – A Basic Necessity” will provide families with a major need for basic daily living. A table and some chairs is the number two item requested (beds and bedding is #1) when we visit families. We estimate that we had over 2800 requests for tables and chairs in 2016.

Who Will it Benefit?

Our clients, (i.e. the underprivileged in Edmonton) will be the primary beneficiaries of the support requested from the Field Law community Fund. When we visit our clients many do not have the basic necessities. We provide them with all that they need to have a "home" and not just a room or an apartment. A table and some chairs, as a family table and gathering place is an important part of building a home. To put this in perspective, in the 2016 fiscal year alone the 78,418 hours logged by our volunteers directly helped 3,081 families including over 3600 children and 4600 adults. Almost all of the clients we visit do not have a table and chairs. In 2016 we were only able to give out 1,040 tables and 150 chairs. This is approximately only 1/3 of the requests. The 1,040 tables we gave out last year included re-purposed flat surfaces. In the past we have used old doors, headboards, desk tops, broken coffee tables etc. to make tables. We buy the legs at IKEA. We do not have funds to buy chairs and those that we are able to supply are bought at auctions. Some of these chairs are in poor shape and cannot be used.
" A Table and Some Chairs" will directly benefit 100 families by providing them with a family gathering place, a place where they can eat, apply for jobs, do homework and many other ways that we use our tables. A very important benefit of your support is by providing a place for children to do their homework, helping them be more successful at school. By providing this basic necessity to a client you will help give them a sense of normalcy putting clients in a better position to overcome the stresses that come with poverty. Having a table to use to fill out a job application will help them succeed in finding employment.

Our clients include women and men and children escaping abusive situations, refugees, immigrants to name a few. The fact that many other agencies refer their clients to us for emergency furniture and household goods is evidence that we meeting an unmet need in the community. Clients are referred to us by Alberta Government departments, managers of low income housing, social workers, other service organizations and by word of mouth. Examples of other service organizations that refer clients to us include 211, Boyle Street Co-Op, Hope Mission, Marian Center, Bissell Center, Mustard Seed church, Laurana Shelter and Sherwood Park Women's Shelter.