ROC Eastman is now helping almost six times as many children as it did when the organization first started nine years ago. ROC stands for Recreational Opportunities for Children. The organization helps needy families to get their children into recreational activities. Executive Director Moni Loewen says it took them a few years to get established and they then started to see exponential growth.
"I would say in the first few years we were working with about 40 kids at a time. And, to date, we are probably closer to 230 kids that we have had significant relationship with and continue, with most of them, to have a relationship."
Loewen adds they have also become more efficient in helping families.
"Initially, if we got a referral or someone asked for some help, we automatically put that family on a waiting list without having that conversation, like, Hey, what are you finding difficult? And we realized that many people just don't know about what is out there. They don't know where to get information on activities for their kids, they don't know that there's Jumpstart and KidSport and the Sunshine Fund and arts bursary programs."
Loewen says they now have those conversations with families right at the start and, in some cases, they can quickly get them in touch with the right people. But she adds there are still plenty of other families who face significant other barriers where ROC Eastman needs to walk alongside them and provide help.
Loewen says community support has been phenomenal and they greatly appreciate the many groups and individuals that help to fund them.
"It's incredible, the support that we have gained over the years. We pinch ourselves very regularly and we're just exceptionally grateful. It's still hard every year. We know that we still have a waiting list, we still aren't getting to all the families and kids that we want to. So, in that respect, the budget will always grow. We will always want to help more kids and the community, oh my word, they just step up and they help us and they care about these kids."
ROC Eastman is holding its annual ROC the Rink fundraiser this weekend at the T.G. Smith Centre in Steinbach.