Felicity Smith: Together Against Poverty


My relationship with Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS) began shortly after I retired from my job as a fundraiser for a non-profit agency in Victoria.

I got involved in the Volunteer Disability Advocacy Project (VDAP). VDAP advocates work one-on-one with clients applying for Persons with Disabilities (PWD) designation status through the BC Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. Attaining this designation leads to an increase in the client’s monthly benefits. The role of the advocate is to draft aspects of the application, help liaise with health practitioners and review the completed application prior to submission.

The training program was comprehensive and ongoing, but I learned most by meeting clients, hearing their stories and getting advice and feedback from the staff member in charge of the project. Feeling well-supported is absolutely critical to a positive volunteer experience.

While not every application for PWD was successful, most were and they led to an increase in income of several hundred dollars a month for the client. Life on benefits is very hard, involving daily decisions about how to make a little money go a long way. For a successful client, the first payday at the higher rate, plus the back pay, felt akin to winning the lottery!

After a couple of years as a VDAP advocate, I joined the board of TAPS. Along with another board member, I organized an annual fundraising event, which was widely supported by the local business community. This popular event brought together friends of TAPS, both new and old, committed to the goals of the organization to address the systemic causes of poverty and to assist individuals experiencing its consequences. In 2020, the pandemic put an end to that yearly celebration. In spite of the havoc of the Covid-19 years, TAPS continues to thrive with a new generation of volunteers supporting the work of their marvelous professional staff.

Based on my fulfilling experience at TAPS, I recommend being open to the wonderful possibilities that volunteering has to offer.

Learn more at tapsbc.ca.