Chalice Canada sponsors rise up in tough times

By 
  • November 13, 2020

There’s a silver lining in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic for Chalice Canada: despite these fraught times, the Catholic international aid agency continues to see an unwavering commitment from its supporters.

“We have called each of our amazing sponsors to offer prayer and support, and those phone calls have been met with overwhelming generosity and positivity,” said Jennifer Derway-Deane, the senior invitation and engagement manager for Chalice. “We were just calling to check up on them, but their first question is always, ‘how is my sponsor child? What can I do to help right now?’ ”

This resoluteness to continue giving during a devastating public health crisis is a ringing endorsement of Chalice, headquartered in Bedford, N.S. It’s enabled Chalice, founded in 1992, to continue “to bring Christ to the poor and the poor to Christ” by offering food, water, shelter, education and health support to impoverished children and families in 15 developing countries, mostly in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Derwey-Deane says the “amazing support” from donors enables Chalice to provide emergency food support and medical supplies to help each of its sites weather the pandemic and other health concerns.

Charity Intelligence Canada, which provides charity assessments for 750 Canadian organizations, ranks Chalice as one of its 100 highest-rated charities for 2020. It is lauded for its financial transparency, demonstrated impact and results reporting.

The most impressive metric, though, is that 90.1 per cent of its spending goes towards supporting programs. The 2018-19 fiscal year saw $28,712,844 disbursed to support 51,007 children and elders.

Chalice’s sponsorship model has evolved over the years. A designated staff member at each sponsor site — there are currently 57 — used to make the monetary decisions. Derway-Deane says the current Chalice Family Circle approach in operation at 51 of the locations empowers community members to make their own fiscal decisions.

“These circle groups are for parents and patients to come together to talk about the current needs in their families, how to budget and what needs are upcoming,” said Derway-Deane.

Each circle group has about 20 members with an on-site liaison from Chalice to provide counsel and financial training. There are currently 2,468 active family circle groups.

A casualty of COVID-19 was the cancellation of scheduled mission trips to India and Ukraine. The hope is to travel to the sponsor site in Kerala, India, in November 2021 and Pochaiv, Ukraine, in spring 2022. Volunteers on these trips will have opportunities to work in the education system, provide nutritional support, lead fun activities and even offer key health services such as counselling.

Before the pandemic struck, Chalice Canada would have its representatives visit parishes throughout Canada to promote the work the organization is doing around the globe. In-person appeals are not an option in the current climate so Derwey-Deane and her team share good news stories about the power of sponsorship on social media channels to encourage more Canadians to take up the mantle of discipleship. 

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