An organization aimed at surrounding families in crisis will benefit from Wednesday's charity barbeque in downtown Steinbach.

Safe Families Canada Steinbach has been around for less than three years. Sue Doerksen explains they help families by using what is called a circle of support. She says when a family is in crisis, and this can include such things as a mother escaping an abusive situation or someone recovering from a house fire, Safe Families Canada Steinbach becomes the next line of defense.

"We're not the emergency help," she says. "But after that initial emergency kind of wears off, we're kind of that next line of defense, where we can surround people with a community of support where they may not have one."

Examples could also include a family needing furniture, meals, diapers or just a small house repair. Doerksen says not everyone has family members who can help them in their time of need. Safe Families Canada Steinbach tries to build a community around them with volunteers from local Christian churches. 

"We try to be that family support, that friend, that mentor, someone that's calling and just seeing how they are doing, checking in with them, helping them set goals to get out of the crisis," she adds.

Doerksen says they are that short-term help, and the hope is that their volunteers will continue with friendships, relationships and connections beyond that. 

Doerksen points out that not every circumstance they assist with needs to be an emergency either. She notes sometimes a parent just needs a physical or mental break and Safe Families Canada Steinbach can provide that too. 

"Sometimes the parents need that before they do break, before that need for CFS (Child and Family Services) care comes in," Doerksen explains.

She is quick to point out that Safe Families Canada Steinbach loves CFS and that they do not work against each other, but rather with each other. But she says with Safe Families Canada Steinbach, it is always voluntary and children will never be removed from a home without permission. 

"We hope to actually be kind of a preventative measure for the foster care system," says Doerksen. "If we can get in with the family in crisis beforehand and prevent the need for that to step in."

According to Doerksen, Safe Families Canada Steinbach is fully donor funded. She notes they have a small overhead with only a few staff. Money raised from Wednesday's barbeque will go towards paying their annual budget. She notes it will also allow them to continue to grow, which includes launching Safe Families Plus, aimed at 18 to 25-year-olds who could be aging out of the foster care system or have other precarious living arrangements and don't have assistance.

The Taste of Summer Charity BBQ is held every Wednesday in July and August. This event invites individuals and families to join together at the corner of Main and Lumber, right in front of the Steinbach Credit Union, for lunch from 11 am to 1 pm. To participate, all it takes is a minimum donation of two dollars for lunch, but organizers kindly request attendees to consider contributing more to support local charities. 


With files from Corny Rempel and Dave Anthony