YWCA Executive Director surprised by the confusion surrounding Rockhill donations

A fire burning at Rockhill Apartments Tuesday morning. Photo by Trevor Thompson.
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It’s been a confusing couple days for Lyda Fuller. The Executive Director of the NWT YWCA says complaints of mismanaging donations have been disheartening for her to hear.

“It’s a bit surprising to me. We have found housing for people; as far as I know nobody who was in the fire is on the street; we even offered to find housing for people who stayed with family for the short term so that when they’re ready to move out there’s a place for them”

Some family and friends of those affected took to social media to share their disapproval of the work done by the YWCA. A daughter of one of the affected posted that “It’s a really Sh—y Feeling”

As for the reports that people have not been given the proper funds to support themselves by the YMCA, Fuller claims to Moose FM that she’s surprised to hear that some people are feeling like they haven’t been helped.

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“Everyone affected has received gift cards for groceries, to Walmart. They’ve all gotten meat boxes and all kinds of other things that have been put into place to ensure that they have food.”

Fuller states she understands the strong reaction by the victims but that at the same time it is very troubling for her since she’s worked with the tenants in that building prior to the fire.

“I understand people have been through a lot. I know that people have had traumatic events even before the fire because we worked the tenants in that building for some time. I understand that people are shaken up and have lost everything. We have a previous relationship with them.”

A big misunderstanding, according to Fuller, is about how the funds were going to be managed. She says she didn’t understand how some people thought it would be spent.

“People thought certain things could happen with the money and I knew that it couldn’t happen but I never knew they thought it could. I even checked with other organizations that deal with disaster relief to see if it’s routine to give out cash and it’s not and the reason it’s not is that the charities legislation addresses that.”

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Fuller acknowledges that people wouldn’t know that unless they worked in charities. She says that when money gets donated to a charity, the charity can use it to continue to do its charitable activities.

“For us, it’s doing the same thing we usually do: keeping people in housing and making sure people have furniture and those types of things. That’s what we do. The units at Rockhill we always had them furnished with donated furniture, everything that was lost is being replaced and they’re also getting new furniture. Things are being delivered today and during the weekend.”

Something that really surprised Fuller was the notion that people thought that the YWCA should’ve dispersed all the donations by this point.

“We made a commitment that we would support people through the winter and that they would be taken care of during the winter.  We want to make sure the money lasts through the winter and not burn through it all. We want to meet people’s needs and to be able to do that between now and spring. We don’t want people to end up homeless during the winter.”

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It appears not everyone is unhappy with the work the YWCA has done. On a recent YCWA Facebook post, there were a few people showing their support.

One commenter said, “You guys are doing a great job. I think the rest of us all need to cut everyone involved some slack. Much love to all of your staff and the people you serve.”

“You all a blessing to many and doing a great job for many people ..glad you are in this town…” voiced another.

Someone also posted “Through Thick & Thin, YWCA, is always there for anyone, they deserve to be humans to,& great job finding housing for all”.

Fuller admits it’s becoming clear that communication has been a big problem with the YWCA and the tenants affected by the fire. She wants communication between the two sides to continue to improve.

“We continue to urge people if they have any needs to connect to the housing staff, that’s what they’re there for. Our job is to make living conditions easier for you”

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