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City to support volunteer groups affected by COVID-19

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Local sports organizations have lent their support behind a motion presented to city council to help volunteer organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to council, representatives from Oshawa Kicks Soccer Club and the Lady Blue Knights field lacrosse organization expressed their desire for a motion, presented by Ward 2 City and Regional Councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri, to be passed.

Marimpietri’s motion would see the federal, provincial, and regional governments help local municipalities assist social and service clubs, as well as youth sporting organizations.

Kicks Executive Director Elizabeth McCaw says her organization, like many others, is in need of support because of the pandemic.

While the organization’s board froze all non-mandatory expenses in March, it is still a not-for-profit, points out McCaw.

With parks and facilities beginning to open back up, McCaw says children have already missed out on much of the season.

“Young players have been in their basements or in their backyards kicking the ball [instead of on fields],” she says.

She also points out the organization has cancelled its traditional summer program.

“The decision to cancel was heartbreaking… knowing that 2,000 kids… will lose their soccer experience for 2020,” she says.

The assumed loss of the 2020 season and programming will reportedly cost the organization 75 per cent of its 2021 budget, says McCaw.

She believes financial support from the federal and provincial government would help to ease the burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We urge you to support this motion to help our sport return to normalcy as soon as possible,” she told council.

Barbara Boyce, the Lady Blue Knights executive director, also urged council to support Marimpietri’s motion.

She says the COVID-19 pandemic has hit her organization hard, and financial support is needed to continue the programming “Oshawa expects.”

With the regular program unable to run for the 2020 season, Boyce says there is no way for the organization to recoup losses.

“Financial support… could help preserve the great legacy we have in the community,” she says.

Speaking with The Oshawa Express, Marimpietri says he appreciates the “huge support” his motion received from his colleagues on council.

Marimpietri says his motivations behind the motion were due to the benefits Oshawa has reaped from being “a diverse” and “welcoming multicultural community.”

“As a council and as residents, we must always acknowledge and be proud of this progressive reality,” he says.

He says local sporting clubs serve to benefit the children and families of Oshawa by providing safe and organized activities for local youths. They also enhance children’s “health, quality of life, and enjoyment.”

“With this in mind, each of these sectors, often considered not-for-profits, rely on thousands of volunteers who come together by hosting community events like Fiesta Week, Rotary Rib Fest, or the International Frank Sobil Classic as their principle means of fundraising,” he explains.

The funds raised at these events help to sustain the programs they provide to the community, as well as the operating costs to their facilities, he notes.

“This ability to self-sustain… has been made nearly impossible because of the global pandemic, and the restrictions imposed on all of them,” he says.

Because of the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marimpietri says he and council must do whatever they can to help these organizations to survive.