The Lambton Seniors Association is closing its doors.
Sarnia-Lambton’s longest-serving seniors organization will cease operations Oct. 31 because it can’t survive without the $40,000 annually it received from the United Way of Sarnia-Lambton, its board of directors says.
The agency’s 55 home handymen and handywomen did more than 10,000 jobs for 2,200 clients last year. But United Way’s requirement of a “means test” on income clashed with its mandate to serve all retired seniors age 55 and over, the board of directors said in a letter last week.
“Losing these services will leave a void in the community,” it said.
Efforts to find money from other sources to offset the lost grant proved unsuccessful, it added.
The association did not respond to The Journal’s request for further comment.
United Way executive director Dave Brown said cutting an agency’s funding is never easy. But the United Way has a responsibility to its donors to ensure the money given to
36 groups and services benefit those who need it most.
“Our donors support the United Way because they want to help local people in need. A means test is a way to identify who is most in need,” Brown said.
“Our values are to help those most in need. (The association’s) value is first-come, first-served. The two just simply could not coexist.”
The 29-year-old seniors’ association, which has received United Way funding for 12 years, was notified of the new requirement in late 2017, Brown said. It was also offered a means-test template to use with clients.
Home handyman services are also provided through Habitat for Humanity and Lambton Elderly Outreach, Brown noted, and both agencies require clients to complete a means test.
The $40,000 has been redirected to the Red Cross to expand its Meals on Wheels program into Lambton County, Brown said.
Funding also went to the Red Cross and Lambton Elderly Outreach’s transportation programs.
Meanwhile, this year’s United Way campaign has raised about $425,000 so far, almost one-quarter of the $1.9-million goal.