2 min


Pride Society decision hurts A Loving Spoonful

Credit: Robin Perelle

A Loving Spoonful is now several thousand dollars in debt due to an unexpected, and seemingly last-minute, decision by the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS).

The decision centers around the question of who can ask for donations at the Pride Parade-and who can’t.

For the last seven years at least, volunteers from A Loving Spoonful (which provides free meals to people with AIDS) have passed baskets around the parade route and festival grounds, collecting donations in exchange for their popular fridge magnets.

This year, they never got the chance. The VPS decided to enforce an old no-solicitation rule against all Pride participants-except themselves.

The result: the AIDS agency lost up to $2,000 in annual Pride donations-in addition to the $3,000-4,000 it spent to have the magnets produced in the first place.

It might not sound like much money but “in these times it is significant,” says director Sue Moen.

“It was disappointing,” she continues-especially since she says she only found out about the change in plan about a week before Pride.

By then, it was too late to send the magnets back; they had already been ordered and the costs incurred.

“It would have been nice if we had known sooner,” says Moen, adding that organizations such as A Loving Spoonful rely on community events to raise funds.

Some VPS board members say Moen could have known sooner had she checked her correspondence.

They say they remember receiving a letter from someone at A Loving Spoonful asking about donations sometime around May, though they don’t remember exactly when. They also say they answered the letter “in a timely fashion,” according to their media liaison, Steven Schelling.

Moen says she has no recollection of either sending or receiving any such letters. The first she heard of the whole issue was a couple of days before Pride, she maintains.

Granted, the VPS has a right to decide who can solicit donations at Pride, she continues. The society even clearly states that solicitation is prohibited in its parade registration forms.

It’s just that in all the years she’s been with A Loving Spoonful, Moen says the VPS has never enforced its no-solicitation rule.

That’s why she was taken aback by this year’s announcement-which she says she received just a week before Pride.

And that’s why she’s hoping the VPS will communicate its intentions earlier next year. “You just need to know ahead of time so you can make plans,” Moen says.

“Really, in the end, it’s the Pride Society’s choice, it’s their decision. But you also have to be respectful of other people’s needs and goals.”

VPS vice-president Randy Atkinson is sympathetic to A Loving Spoonful’s predicament.

The Pride Society didn’t mean to hurt any other community groups, he says. It just wanted to reserve the right to collect donations itself in order to pay off more of its own debt.

“It’s unfortunate,” Atkinson says. “The intent for the Pride Society was really to ensure our own economic health-not to be punitive to other non-profits.”

Atkinson says he doesn’t know when exactly the VPS announced its decision to enforce its no-solicitation rule this year. But he doesn’t remember hearing anything about A Loving Spoonful’s magnets. Had he heard about the expenditure, he might have considered lifting the ban for the AIDS agency, he says now.

Though Pride donations make up only a small portion of A Loving Spoonful’s overall budget, Moen says the agency is going to have a tough time meeting its revenue goals this year.

“We believe we’ll make it, with a lot of hard work,” she says. “But we will probably have to revisit some of our programs for next year.”