Behind the brick and barbed wire exterior of the Wilkinson Road jail is a story that is warming hearts.

“I’m proud of the guys here for stepping up and for being able to inspire us,” said Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre (VIRCC) Chaplain Reverend Canon Kevin Arndt.

Arndt recently approached the inmates at VIRCC, commonly referred to as the Wilkinson Road jail, about raising money to help people struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic. The men chose the Rapid Relief Fund and whether it was $1 or $85 they stepped up to give what they could.

“Every dollar that was donated represents a bit of comfort on the inside, that the guys gave away in order to help people that they don’t even know,” said Arndt.

The inmates ended up contributing $289.01. It may sound small when you consider the fund has raised nearly $6 million but the CEO of the Victoria Foundation says the gesture speaks volumes.

“This amount given by these people I think is just tremendous,” said Sandra Richardson.

A lot have given since the fund was launched less than two months ago and it isn’t slowing down. The Bottle Depot is continuing to collect money at its Victoria donation bins for the month of May. So far 83 organizations have benefited from the community’s generosity with $5 million already handed out to those who need it most.

READ MORE: Victoria Foundation’s Rapid Relief Fund raises $5 million in 31 days

“The community has just showed its true colours, everyone wants to stand up tall and help rebuild this community,” said Richardson.

And that includes the 16 inmates at the Wilkinson Road jail, many who have been in need themselves, and who, like most people during this pandemic, are worried about their loved ones.

“There is far more to them than the worst thing they’ve ever done in their life, than the worst mistake they’ve ever made, so sometimes we may only see them in a one dimensional way but crises like this can bring out the very best in them and the very best in all of us,” said Arndt.

 

April Lawrence