Knowing Your Community is Half the Battle
Abbotsford Community Services Receives $350,000 from the Law Foundation of BC

When the Law Foundation of British Columbia funded Abbotsford Community Services' proposal for a $350,000, three-year initiative, it was a first, says Ranni Sangha-Tolman, coordinator of the Seasonal Workers and Growers Law Reform Project.

The Law Foundation had supported earlier phases of the Seasonal Workers Project, including a pilot of the three-year initiative in 2000 to 2001. But this was the first time that the project had received funding that would continue for more than one year. Now, project workers won't have to scramble to find "a bit here and a bit there" from multiple donors and, Sangha-Tolman emphasizes, farm workers and growers will "reap the benefits" that come from an ongoing project.

Think First
Abbotsford Community Services, a non-profit agency providing educational programs and social services to residents of British Columbia, has nine years of research, consultation, policy development and community outreach experience on this issue. But this doesn't mean developing the proposal came easy.

"We did lots of thinking and brainstorming and discussing," says Manpreet Grewal, Manager of Multicultural and Immigrant Integration Services at the organization. "We had a real community need we were trying to address."

This is the critical step, Grewal explains. "If you know what needs to happen within your community and with your project, then that is half the battle won."

After that, she says, "it's just articulating those thoughts."

Why Not?
When addressing board members who wanted to know why the Law Foundation was the right funder for the project, Abbotsford drew from the strength of its conviction that the project is essential to its targeted population -- marginalized farm workers, many of whom are immigrants.

"[Law Foundation] board members would come out and say, 'Why the Law Foundation?'" Grewal explains. "And we would say, 'Why not the Law Foundation?'"

The Foundation's support for previous stages of the project made it a logical choice of funder. "They have always supported us for the [Seasonal Workers Project]," Grewal says, "And when they couldn't provide ongoing funding, they would say [to another foundation], 'We can't fund them this year. Would you help them out?'"

Grewal describes the Foundation as "just awesome. I say this all the time. We couldn't have done this without them. They imbibed our enthusiasm for this."

The process of securing funding for this project has been "great," Grewal adds. "Challenging, but great."

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