The AFC: January 2019 Newsletter View this email in your browser.


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 In This Issue:

January 2019

Message from our Executive Director David Hope
How people were helped: December 2018
People behind the work: meet our program team
Testimonial: Mary Anne Waterhouse and Andrew Currie
Become a Reel Friend in 2019

Message from the Executive Director

Dear Friends, 

Each month in this space we report to you on how we used the funds you have provided to give urgent financial aid to the most vulnerable members of our industry, helping them maintain their health, housing and ability to work.

Of course, direct financial aid is extremely important. But do you know what else makes a big difference? How people are treated when they call us and the skill we bring to the task of helping fellow entertainment industry members get through some very dark times and emerge with their dignity and hope intact.

People are sometimes surprised at how our staff has grown. We’ve certainly come a long way since I started as The AFC’s first full-time employee. But today, if we are able to:

  • take the time to understand each clients’ unique situation to make sure the financial aid we give is going to make a real difference to someone who genuinely needs our help
  • help vulnerable colleagues overwhelmed with some of life’s biggest challenges navigate complex problems, discover options and make connections with other services in their community
  • ensure a consistently high quality of service that uses our resources effectively
  • design and provide services that are responsive to, and evolve with, our community’s needs; and
  • administer and account for the thousands of emergency financial aid payments for hundreds of clients each year

it’s because of the Program Team members whom you’ll read about below. Their importance to our ability to carry out our mission cannot be underestimated.

As The AFC’s Executive Director, I am lucky to be surrounded with such talented, dedicated staff members who show up in the office every day ready to do their best. As an AFC supporter, I hope you’ll feel, as I do, that the important work you have entrusted us with is in good hands.

Thank you for caring,

David Hope
Executive Director

How people were helped: December 2018

In the last month of 2018, the need for our services was significant - your support helped The AFC distribute $72,210.34 in emergency funding to entertainment professionals facing crisis situations. Here's how people were helped:

  • $44,642.70 to help keep a roof over people’s heads
  • $14,150.00 for groceries and other necessities
  • $2,871.60 to cover utilities
  • $3,094.96 for travel and transportation
  • $2,406.65 to keep the phone and internet connected
  • $2,004.32 for emergency dental and medical care
  • $805.00 for union dues
  • $2,235.11 to cover other expenses, like childcare, moving and storage, etc.

People behind the work: meet our program team

The AFC’s mission is to help Canadian entertainment professionals maintain their health, dignity and ability to work by providing them with compassionate support. When it comes to day to day, it is the members of our program team who work hard to fulfil this mission. The photo above captures our program staff at one of their regular team check-ins.  

The circumstances that bring people to The AFC are diverse and often complex. Usually, each case starts with a phone call from the industry member making us aware of their situation. Often, this phone call comes from a family member, a friend or a colleague as reaching out directly may not be an option. All calls and other interactions with clients are handled by our program staff – a team of people who are deeply connected with our industry and equipped with expertise and experience in personal support and advocacy. 

Program Manager Leah Erbe has been with The AFC for over 10 years and is currently leading our work in program development and delivery: "I definitely think that my background in music and previous experience in the arts is why I'm so invested in serving the community - it's been my family's community my whole life." The focus of Leah's job is evolving our programs and services to ensure we are able to respond to the wide array of challenges people in our industry face efficiently and sustainably.

Senior Program Worker Christine Rossi-Wright is a registered social worker in Ontario. Christine is uniquely positioned to do this work combining her experience as a performer with her expertise as a social worker: “I love working with people in the entertainment community because my heart is in the arts. Of course, I can never know exactly what any given person is going through, but I feel I can get a better glimpse at the situation because of my past experience as an actor. There is definitely an added depth to making a living in arts and entertainment, and I have an intrinsic appreciation for the work and dedication of everyone working in the industry.”

Program Support Worker Elaina Pawelka started out in dance, later going back to school to pursue arts management: “As entertainers – on the front lines or behind the scenes - our line of work is unique. When I danced professionally, I faced all possible scenarios: I had a contract company position, I freelanced, I had to chase gigs. It was hard, physically and especially emotionally draining, but very rewarding. I understand where entertainment workers are coming from and appreciate the importance of what they do. What I love about my job at The AFC is that I am in a position to offer support to people in my community.”

Case Manager Emily Hill is also a registered social worker in Ontario. Emily comes with a wealth of experience working with addiction and mental health issues, crisis intervention and harm reduction: “I love that I get to meet people with unique occupations and highly specialized knowledge and skills – how about location scouting for a living? We work with entertainment professionals from all over Canada, so I often discover new places. The best part of my job is when I know we've made a connection with someone who felt they had nowhere else to turn. That we are here, we understand, and we care.”

Testimonial: Mary Anne Waterhouse and Andrew Currie

The AFC’s support came at a time when we were very close to the edge, early in Ben’s life, when we were at our most vulnerable.

Our son Benjamin Waterhouse-Currie was born at 24 weeks and five days, weighing 1lb 6oz. Ben spent 11 months in hospital, had many surgeries, endless medications, a breathing apparatus and oxygen for two years, and a feeding tube for three.

And yet, we’ve all been incredibly lucky. By 4, Ben didn’t need oxygen, a feeding tube or any medications. He’s now 8 years old and a smart, funny, talented singer who keeps defying early predictions. When Ben was 8 months old, his lead respirologist had told us that his lungs would develop, but “he probably won’t become an opera singer”- well, as of April 2017, Ben has just been invited to join the Canadian Children’s Opera.

The AFC’s support came at a time when we were very close to the edge, early in Ben’s life, when we were at our most vulnerable. To use a driving metaphor, we were on a high mountain road, a steep cliff on both sides. It was dark, and raining, and we were really tired. It’s not that we needed anyone to drive the car, we just needed someone to take the wheel for a little while. Our friends, family and The AFC did that for us, and for that we will be forever grateful.

Become a Reel Friend in 2019

The AFC's Reel Friends Plan is a convenient payroll donation program for film and TV industry workers.  Join the plan today to support your colleagues in time of need and make Canada's arts and entertainment community stronger and more resilient.

Becoming a Reel Friend is easy! Contributions are small and gradual, so you might not even notice them week to week. We looked at past Reel Friends contributions to show you what a small payroll donation over the course of a year could average to:

  • 0.5% of your paycheque keeps lights on for 3 months
  • 1% of your paycheque covers 2+ months of groceries
  • 1.5% of your paycheque takes care of 2 dental or medical emergencies
  • 2% of your paycheque handles 1 month of rent and 2 months of groceries
  • 3% of your paycheque keeps the roof over someone’s head for 3 months

How does it work?

  • A donation in the amount you choose will be deducted from your pay through a participating payment company and remitted to The AFC on your behalf.
  • At the end of the year, you will receive a charitable tax receipt for the annual amount of your payroll donations.
  • You can change or cancel your participation at any time.

Make a real difference, become a Reel Friend! Click the button below to join The Reel Friends plan today. 

donate now

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