These last few months, representatives from Strait Area Ground Search and Rescue (SAGSR) have made the rounds to visit with municipal council units. The SAGSR volunteers have presented an overview of the service they offer. They’ve also been asking for money.
That last part is fairly standard. Not-for-profit organizations, especially community-minded ones, often request funding from the municipalities they serve. The particular ask from SAGSR is relatively modest. The group serves eight municipalities in and around the Strait area, and SAGSR is requesting $5,000 from each of them.
If the municipalities all chip in the requested funds, that would result in $40,000 going to the first responder unit. SAGSR also receives $3,000 in funding from the provincial government, resulting in the organization having $43,000 to get them through the fiscal year.
The problem is, the organization has an annual operating budget of $60,000. Therefore, in the best case scenario, SAGSR is left with a shortfall of $17,000. That amount would have to be made up through fundraisers organized by the SAGSR volunteers when they aren’t, you know, saving lives.
Here’s an idea: why not have all municipal units donate $7,500 each, allowing the SAGSR to meet its minimum budget requirement? That way, the emergency responder unit would not have to worry about finding an additional $17,000 for the year?
It ought to be noted that no finger is being pointed at local municipalities here. Up to this point, the municipalities have been asked to donate a certain amount of money; it’s not the municipalities fault that amount is short of what SAGSR needs to operate.
However, local municipalities are in a position to go that extra mile to fully allot funding for an organization that, in no uncertain terms, is the absolute definition of what ‘emergency responder’ means. Similar comments can be made for police and fire fighters, but no one would question that search and rescue volunteers offer their time and expertise to help people during the worst possible situations.
Last year, SAGSR was called out for seven search operations in its coverage area. With that, the group assisted as back-up to search groups in other areas.
These volunteers commit themselves not only to active searches, but training exercises that take place on weekends and work nights. They also offer educational programs to high school kids relating to staying safe in the woods, how to use a compass, and how to read a map. On top of all that, the group also partners with the Project Lifesaver Association of Nova Scotia, an organization interested in assisting autistic people and folks living with dementia.
That’s a fairly hefty chunk of activities for a group of volunteers. Alleviating the volunteers’ funding concerns would give them one less thing to contend with.
What sort of effort would it take for local municipalities to cover SAGSR’s funding? Well, it would take a bit of cash, some partnerships, along with a few phone calls. One mayor (or warden) would have to phone up the leader of another municipality, free up a bit of cash, and then dial up a third mayor or warden. Then a fourth, then a fifth. The sweat equity needed is minimal.
Indeed, the financial equity isn’t particularly large either, considering the service SAGSR offers.