I mentioned in my last post I had contacted Jim Crites, the gentlemen who posted The Survivor Fund Project announcement for Prairie Bible Institute on Facebook. For background on this particular announcement, see the post below. For further background on Prairie Bible Institute, just click the hyper-linked tag at the bottom which reads Posted in Prairie Bible Institute, or use the internal search engine on the right sidebar.
This is his response.
1) Who is administering the fund and when was it established?
The fund came about because a group of alumni proposed the idea to the Prairie leadership team in late November. It was approved in mid-December; the details were just worked out last week. The fund will be administered by a group of alumni who care about the hurting and wanted to find practical ways to help. It is by design an alumni-driven and alumni-administered plan. We are aware that some survivors will not feel comfortable sharing their stories to current Prairie staff members, so the hope is that a group which is at arm’s-length from Prairie will be seen as safer.
2) How was the fund set up? In other words what consultation process did you and your colleagues engage in? ie: who participated in the set up of this funding group? Faculty, administration, abuse survivors, administration, legal team, Centre Street staff, mental health professionals, etc?
We brainstormed the idea with a number of people, including alumni, former Prairie staff kids, abuse survivors, people in helping professions and ministries before proposing it to the PBI leadership. As to the legal question, the funds will be handled according to the requirements of Revenue Canada. We did not consult with Centre Street Church because they were not named as a 3rd party “listening” organization at the time; that took place after the fund was approved.
3) The announcement states that funds will be dispersed on a case by case basis for counselling, travel costs and other resources. In your consultation process what ‘other resources’ does your team anticipate funding? In other words what does ‘other resources’ mean to your project team?
We have so far suggested that ‘other resources’ could include books, DVDs, workshops, and seminars. However, this list is not set in stone, as we are prepared come up with other creative resources to help a survivor on his/her journey.
4) What did your team determine is the definition of abuse survivor? ie: what types of abuse fit your funding criteria for abused and injured?
The intent is to use the funds to help survivors of sexual and physical abuse, and physical abuse which could be considered severe enough to be a breach of Canadian law. Getting the strap in Grade 4, for example, would not likely qualify, even though we might concur that it was unfair punishment! The abuse must have been perpetrated in the context of Prairie life by someone connected to Prairie, such as a current staff member or current student.
5) The announcement states that interested parties applying for funding are to ‘share their stories’ with volunteer alumni, Dr. Mollering and the RCMP. What is the basis of the decision by your team for an applicant to share their story with PBI/Centre Street/RCMP/unknown alumni etc., if the funding is being distributed by PBI?
First, it’s important to be clear that the funding is not being distributed by PBI. PBI will give us access to the monies donated and we will submit expense receipts back to PBI for proper accounting and auditing purposes. PBI will not be given the identities of the survivors unless the survivor so chooses.
Secondly, the decision was made by the Prairie leadership to publicly name three primary options to whom abuse survivors could choose to tell their story. These three options were announced by Mark Maxwell in his December alumni newsletter, and included Centre Street Church, OR this alumni group with this email address, OR the RCMP. The Survivor fund announcement which I posted this week on Facebook simply repeated those options for anyone who might be unaware of them. Perhaps we could have worded this more clearly, but the intent was that survivors contact ONE of the 3 options, not all three! The only thing changed (added) by this week’s announcement on FB was the availability of funds.
b) What did your team determine were the necessary qualifications for the volunteer alumni who are to receive these stories?
The only qualifications are to love people, have a heart to help the wounded, and understand Prairie’s sub-culture. A number of us are abuse survivors, and I expect all of us have had to work through issues related to legalism (though we didn’t conduct a survey about that!). Our role is to simply listen to stories as fellow Prairie staff kids and alumni. It is not to provide professional therapy or legal advice, though we are likely to direct survivors to those resources as we listen to their stories. In short, this is really about relationship, much like we would offer to a friend in crisis. There are at least 20 people available to listen to stories, and from them, 2-3 people who will handle the distribution of funds. We have already had a number of people come to us and receive real hearing and understanding, and are moving forward in their healing journey. We are not into pat answers and the easy “forgive and forget” theology. And survivors are welcome to share their story even if they don’t happen to need funding.
c) How is an applicant to communicate with the alumni? ie: phone, email, face to face?
The best way is to start is by sending an email to this address. (prairiealums (at) gmail (dot) com. Once a relationship established, the parties involved are free to decide for themselves how they want to communicate. So far, we have used Facebook, Skype, email, telephone, and personal visits.
d) Who sees these applications/applicant in the vetting process? ie: Alumni/staff/Centre Street Church staff, legal team, etc?
There is no application process. If you want to talk, simply contact us. We will try to find out where you are in your healing journey, and then determine if some financial assistance would help you make additional progress. The conversations are confidential; it’s your story to tell, not ours. The Prairie leadership has made it very clear that they do not want to know the identification of survivors unless a survivor chooses to tell. This, of course, within the bounds of Canadian law as it relates to any current criminal activity.
e) Where is PBI posting the names and qualifications of staff/alumni/outside parties who are privy to the information (story) an applicant submits?
There is no intent on PBI’s part to post this information anywhere. It is confidential between the survivor and the listener who is walking with that survivor. Nor is this a highly-structured, officious program with lots of hoops. We are simply lay volunteers who want to help our fellow staff kids and alumni find healing
f) What information do you require from an applicant in their story? ie: Has your team compiled a list of questions for the applicant?
The intent is that this is an informal relationship, like supporting a hurting friend through a crisis. There are no requirements to talking; the survivor is free to tell their story as they wish. We have no list of questions, as we are not a counseling centre with intake forms. We are simply there to listen and care, and if people so desire, make recommendations for helpful resources.
6) Was Dr. Mollering (Centre Street Church) consulted as to the nature of the project process and the use of her name in the announcement?
We informed her via email on December 16th after PBI announced that Centre Street Church would be involved in listening to survivor stories. It was a simple “heads up” to the possibility that there could be some collaboration between CSC and this alumni group in helping survivors. Her name was listed in this week’s FB announcement as one of the options for survivors to choose from, in the same way that Mark Maxwell’s December alumni letter did.
7) Were the RCMP contacted and asked to provide survivors with your group information and announcement on this offer of financial assistance for survivors?
No, they weren’t. The intent of listing the RCMP was to reiterate the options available to survivors, not to connect them to the way the funds will be distributed. Hindsight is a wonderful thing…it appears that the way we worded the FB announcement inadvertently created some confusion in this regard! What we wanted to communicate is that 1) survivors had options, and 2) that some criteria are in place for survivors to receive funding, as expected by the donor base and within Revenue Canada’s guidelines. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
Thanks for your time, I look forward to your response.
You are very welcome. I hope this explanation was helpful, but if there are still some things we can clarify, please don’t hesitate to write again. We want it known that our greatest desire is for healing for the survivors and justice for those who caused the abuse. We are honored to be part of the solution whenever a survivor so chooses.
The Survivor Fund Project announcement:
Update: The Survivor Fund Project members have identified themselves as John Kepler (PHS ’71, PBC ’75), Jim Crites (PHS ’78, PBC ’82), Mim Carlson Phibbs (PHS ’59, PBC ’63), Brenda Boytim Morrison (PHS ’74, PBC ’78), and Priscilla Virts Johnson (PHS ’72).
Update: It was noted elsewhere online I did not highlight the education of the team. That is correct, I did not know their educational backgrounds. Jim Crites has a counselling degree (Masters) from Providence Seminary in Manitoba, and John Kepler received a Masters in Pastoral Counselling in the U.S. Another unnamed Survivor Fund Project member is completing a Masters in counselling.