By Julie Simmonds
Since 2007, the Military Families Fund (MFF) has helped 560 military families and members in times of need. Covering anything from counseling expenses to academic support, the MFF has dished out $800,000 to assist military families where other funding options weren’t available.
From the legacy of General Rick Hillier, the MFF was created in response to an outpouring of support from the corporate and private homes across Canada. According to the fund’s website, “Many Canadians have approached and asked how they could support our troops and their families in a variety of ways. This fund gives that generosity a home, and will provide us with a unique opportunity to support our families in the dark hours when they call out for help,” said Hillier, former Chief of Defence Staff.
The fund is designed to compliment other sources of support Military Families can obtain. According to Jennifer Rankine, case manager for Military Families Fund, the type of support the MFF can provide includes counselling expenses for family members, travel expenses for extended family members to attend a funeral or an injured member or child in the hospital, home modifications for injured or ill members, basic needs (utilities, rent) for former members, moving expenses for families of deceased members, academic support for children, extended short term respite/childcare for families and assistance to cover medication for family members.
To date, the fund has received $4.8 million in donations from private donors, corporations and third party fundraising events such as the annual True Patriot Love event, motorcycle rides, golf tournaments, marathons and school fundraisers.
Giving back to military families feels important to companies like Pacrim Hospitability Management, who offer military families a discount program through the Canex.
“What attracted us, was just a simple way of giving back to the families that may have needs while their family member is off on Canadian Forces duties. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I did some research and started to open some doors and contacts and now we have a program that works and our hope is that we can help many families for years to come,” said Kris Crundwell, Vice-President Sales at Pacrim Hospitality Services Inc.
In 2010, the MFF received 200 requests for assistance and 154 who actually received the financial support from the fund, for a total of $338,000 disbursed to assist military families. Only 1.3 per cent of the funds raised goes toward overhead and administration costs like the toll-free telephone line, BMO prepaid card administration fees (for disbursements), Chase fees (processing fees for credit card donations) and honorariums. Expenses such as staff salaries are paid through public funds and not the MFF.
The website states that beneficiaries of the MFF can include Canadian Forces (CF) members and their families, blood or in-law family members of an active duty or former CF member, people who are in a significant relationship with a CF member if the CF member has been killed, disabled or injured while serving in active duty.
“Each case is reviewed on an individual basis. There is currently no cap,” said Rankin. “The average request for assistance is about 2K.”
A family receiving funds from the MFF can expect a cheque payment from a local non-public funds (NPF) office . If a cheque cannot be disbursed at the time a family needs assistance, during holidays, weekends or closing times; then a BMO prepaid card is given to the family.
For Military Families seeking some additional support and help through the MFF, contact the local Military Families Fund, Military Family Resource Center, Padre, SISIP Financial Counselor or by going through the chain of command.
For more information about the MFF or to find your local contact, go to their website.