By Nicholas Elbers
A North Shore Pro-Life financial aid program that helps mothers and families make difficult life-affirming decisions is approaching its first anniversary, with organizers saying they want to make it available to more people in need.
The Life Affirmation Program helps lessen the financial burden faced by mothers and families who choose life, either for their children or elderly relatives at risk of euthanasia.
North Shore Pro-Life president Mario Tancredi says the organization wants to expand the program, which offers $500 a month for one year to an individual or family in need of financial support because of a life-affirming decision.
The group has decided to open another spot for every $500 that comes in as a regular monthly donation through its website.
“We hope the money will help show support and love and signal care,” said Tancredi.
The Life Affirmation Program came out of a difficult conversation that North Shore Pro-Life president Mario Tancredi had with friends over dinner. Mario and his wife were blindsided by the pro-choice viewpoint of their friends, who accused pro-life people of “only caring about the life of the baby before it was born.”
Despite being uncomfortable, Tancredi took the accusation – however inaccurate it may be – as a challenge, and North Shore Pro-Life launched its Life Affirmation program last spring.
The program’s first recipients were women and their families dealing with unplanned pregnancies, but families or individuals struggling with the financial burden of caring for an elderly family member are encouraged to apply.
Working with other aid organizations that provided specific goods like food or clothing to people in need, Tancredi learned that program recipients often knew better what they needed to survive. Therefore, as long as applicants meet some essential criteria, there are few restrictions on how they can spend the money.
The grandmother of one recipient told The B.C. Catholic that the money has been an enormous benefit to her family as she helps care for her granddaughter, who resulted from a crisis pregnancy.
The household ran into financial trouble when she and her husband lost their jobs during COVID. When their pensions were not enough to cover their costs. Confusion over federal benefit requirements meant they had to repay some of the money to the government.
That’s when North Shore Pro-Life contacted her.
“Mario came at the perfect time,” she said.
The family has used the money to help pay for medical costs, and it allowed the little girl to attend summer camps.
Surprisingly, it can be difficult to give $500 away, says Tancredi, especially if the recipient is low-income, since the money could interfere with existing government assistance programs. North Shore Pro-Life didn’t want the support to leave the recipient ineligible for government aid after the grant ended, so the program is intended to be a short-term boost to get individuals back on their feet.
Pro-life supporters point out that euthanasia and abortion most often happen because people feel alone, which is why North Shore Pro-Life tries to put a community focus at the centre of its programs.
“Something like 80% of women who have had an abortion say they would not have had them if even one person had cared,” said Tancredi.
The organization is currently building relationships with other organizations, like the Knights of Columbus and St. Thomas More Secondary, to help with recipients’ non-financial needs. Whether it means mending a broken fence or providing low-cost childcare, that extra support can be available as long as the program recipient wants to have a relationship with North Shore Pro-life, Tancredi said.
Unfortunately, North Shore Pro-Life has run into challenges getting support for the Life Affirmation Program from the wider community, and it’s been more difficult than expected to find recipients.
Society’s acceptance of abortion as the de-facto solution for unplanned pregnancy makes the promise of post-natal community support for a mother a difficult concept for many people.
Tancredi hopes that giving money directly to people caught at the centre of pro-life issues will demonstrate the value of that person, for example, a newly born baby, without the need for argument.