A Nanaimo society that helps the vulnerable is in disarray as it tries to account for some missing money.
On Thursday most of the staff were laid off at the Society of Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy and today during the first snowfall of the season, the city’s only warming centre was closed.
For those who need to access the centre, the timing could not be worse.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said Jason Thompson, a regular at the warming centre. “It’s good to have somewhere warm to go during the day because it’s pretty cold out now. As you can see it’s snowing.”
The society laid off eight employees Thursday and then Friday it posted on one of its social media accounts that “Due to events beyond staff control we are not taking any donations until further notice”.
Nanaimo RCMP confirms it received a complaint in November and as a result, it launched a theft investigation at the society.
The society’s clients the news is difficult to take.
“That’s messed up, to say the least,” said Shawn Phillips, a warming centre regular.
“That’s awful and it’s pretty bad to hear that happening,” said Thompson.
No one from the society was publicly commenting today but a source tells CHEK News the amount of missing money amounts to more than $100,000.
“It represents the amalgamation of two very important community organizations that delivered incredibly valuable services to this community over many years. I’m very saddened by what I hear and understand and I only hope they can pull through these present difficulties,” said Nanaimo Mayor, Leonard Krog.
Krog says he only became aware of the investigation through CHEK News. He says he supports the volunteers — some of whom are employees who just lost their jobs — who want to continue staffing the warming shelter.
“For them to try and carry on in these circumstances is commendable and I only hope they succeed,” said Krog.
The society’s board is scheduled to meet tonight.
The future of the services provided to Nanaimo’s vulnerable here is still very much in the air.