Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame

Rhonda throws cold water on the meat draw's focus.

Carolyn Grant

Deep in the Stygian darkness of the obfuscating layers of governmental bureaucracy dwell the worker bees. These drones live in the depths of regulations enacted by said government, their job to enforce the rules, to make sure things are ticketyboo, so the wheels of democracy may run smoothly.

We have discussed before, dear readers, the need for regulation. You don’t want chaos, rules are necessary. But we have also discussed before what happens when an over-zealous drone takes his or her role a little too seriously. People, ordinary people, get hurt.

I am about to tell you a tale of woe — a tale of a group of people just trying to help out who got caught up in the befuddling blanket of government bureaucracy, and ran into a worker bee, whom we shall refer to as Rhonda — because her real name escapes me. We’re going to talk meat draws.

Let me explain. Meat draws, to the uninitiated, are a swell way to raise a few funds, whilst enjoying a cold beverage and fellowship. You simply sell tickets for the chance to win meat. Tickets are a buck or two and a surprising amount of money can be raised. A group in Kimberley decided to do just that. The agreement among the 20 or so who gathered weekly at a local watering hole, was that funds would be raised to help those in Kimberley only. Focus on Kimberley. FOCUS chose a few very worthy causes to champion, like the Pines Memorial Society, the Kimberley Loan Cupboard, the Selkirk Breakfast Club and the Food Bank Angel Tree program. And donations were given to these groups in the amount of $500 each time. But FOCUS also chose to keep on hand an emergency fund so that anyone needing help due to well, an emergency, could receive $500 immediately. The person’s needs were simply brought forward, a quick show of hands vote was taken and the money was offered. No strings. Over the past year, FOCUS gave $500 to several cancer patients who were in need for either travel expenses, or simply living expenses as they could no longer work.  A couple of times the recipients were people who had lost everything they owned in a fire. In simple terms, people in need of a bit of a boost.

A license was granted By BC Gaming in May of 2013 and the meat draws proceeded. The license allowed FOCUS to raise $5,000, which was done by December of last year. Another license was applied for and received and another $5000 was raised by May. All those funds, aside from the cost of meat and tickets, were given away. Another license was applied for.

And… this is where we run into Rhonda. There was a simple request. Help me, Rhonda. Help me navigate the maze that is BC Gaming regulation and renew the license for Focus. But Rhonda wanted a little more information about these shady meat draws. And she wanted us to know that we can’t just up and give money to a cancer patient in dire straights, or a couple who lost everything in a fire. That’s madness! It could be fraud!

Sidebar – Kimberley has a population of less than 7,000 and the 20-some people at the core of the meat draw know everyone. I’m sure the rule about personal donations is there for a reason, but this isn’t it.

You also have to apply for a separate license ($10 each) for each person you wish to help, Rhonda informed us. BC Gaming would then approve or not approve ‑— which kind of defeats the entire purpose of “emergency” funds. Rhonda also informed us that there were only three organizations we would be approved to assist. You can’t just go handing out money willy nilly.

Also, we have to record every ticket number sold, write down the names, addresses and vital statistics of every winner. These are the rules. You win a pork chop, BC Gaming wants your personal information.

Unable — and yes, a bit unwilling — to meet Rhonda’s requirement, FOCUS decided to stand down. A bunch of people in Kimberley needing assistance won’t get it this year, because one worker bee decided to exercise her right to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’.

Shot through the heart and you’re to blame, Rhonda.

Why you gotta be so mean?