BFO-MR receives OTF Grant to better support grieving children, families and individuals

A Resilient Communities Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is enabling Bereaved Families of Ontario – Midwestern Region (BFO-MR) to build a strong foundation for the future as the grief support organization puts staff and strategies in place to navigate another uncertain year of the Covid-19 pandemic. BFO-MR was granted $67,900 over a year to put the necessary people, support, and processes in place to build resiliency and sustainability.

Recognizing the grant, MPP Amy Fee stated “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges for non-profit organizations across our province. This grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation has allowed BFO-MR to build upon its strengths and continue to provide much-needed support to individuals and families in the face of some very trying times.”

Funds from OTF support hiring a fundraiser (welcome Holly!), the development and implementation of a volunteer recruitment strategy, workshops in support of volunteer and employee wellbeing and the creation of processes and policies that will enable a safe return to in-person support groups when the time comes. Funds are also being allocated towards technology that will make grief support accessible for those who may not have devices to participate in virtual groups.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and what it makes possible for us this year,” says Jaime Bickerton, BFO-MR Executive Director. “Grief is what so many of us are experiencing right now and this funding is allowing us to make sure we can continue to be in a position to support our community when it needs it most.”

With demand for service increasing and a shift in how volunteers can contribute in a virtual environment, the resources to support volunteer recruitment initiatives are particularly critical. “Peer volunteers lead BFO-MR’s grief support programs and a shortage of facilitators in certain groups is impacting the ability to provide service,” adds Bickerton.

While last year was challenging for BFO-MR, staff and volunteers were able to shift to virtual support almost immediately which meant a minimal disruption in service and Living with Loss (a mixed-loss group) increased in frequency to keep up with demand. With mounting concern over the impact of ongoing isolation and the inability to participate in the typical rituals and practices that accompany a death, ensuring support is available to those who need or want it is critical.

“This grant is contributing directly to strengthening our organization, building our capacity and supporting our staff and volunteers in the difficult grief work they do every day,” highlights Bickerton.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded more than $115 million to 644 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.