Okanagan-based All Are Family Outreach Society, which provides support to those struggling from Armstrong to Kelowna, is in need of a new headquarters after leaving a Winfield church in June 2020. (All Are Family Outreach photo)

Okanagan outreach society in ‘desperate’ need after storage unit break-in

All Are Family Outreach had $4,000 in tools stolen from its donation shipping container

A small Okanagan outreach society is usually busy providing help to others, but after a costly break-in, they’ve been forced to ask for help from the community.

All Are Family Outreach Society was hoping to leave behind outdoor storage and move into a building after a months long search for a space.

But after a lease agreement fell through last month, the society now finds itself in an even worse situation: its shipping container — used to store donations of food, clothing and other essentials to be given to those struggling throughout the Okanagan — was broken into Thursday.

The sea can had its lock cut off, and around $4,500 in tools were stolen.

“We are now in desperate need of a secure storage place,” All Are Family founder Clary Lausnes said, who added there was also rigging stolen off trucks in the neighbourhood a few days before the sea can theft.

“Even a garage, just someplace we can put up free-standing shelving to store food.”

READ MORE: Okanagan outreach society still without a home

The society has started an “emergency” fundraising campaign to try to recoup some of the losses. The GoFundMe campaign has so far raised $845.

In the description of the online campaign, Lausnes provides “a bit of a backstory” on the outreach society.

Eleven years ago, Bernie — her husband and the other founding member of All Are Family — was in a coma. It took him months to learn to walk again and the unknown medical issue left him with memory and emotional difficulties.

“Then, seven years ago, he was coming home from work. Two dogs jumped out of their owner’s control and ran onto the highway. When he hit his brakes to avoid killing them, he was rear-ended by a tour bus,” Lausnes explained.

The accident left him with small tears in his brain, torn cartilage in his ribs, his spine bent the wrong way at his neck and a torn tendon in his shoulder.

Lausnes said her husband will always struggle with mobility after the crash.

He finished a self-employment course as COVID-19 hit. After his first year at work, he had his truck with $30,000 in tools stolen.

They reported the incident, but police ultimately told them nothing could be done.

They are still paying off credit cards and loans they used to replace the tools stolen from Bernie’s truck, and having more stolen tools to pay for isn’t an option.

“We simply can’t do this again. We spend almost every spare penny we have on fuel and such to operate the outreach and have just no way of replacing this amount of tools,” Lausnes said. “So today, instead of asking for help to help others, we are asking for help for ourselves.”

In addition to the GoFundMe campaign, donations can be made directly through AAFO.

“Thank you to anyone who can help.”

READ MORE: Interior Health expands downtown Kelowna outreach health centre


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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