It has been a year of changes and challenges, which have allowed FCSS to show its strength and balance.
Sandy Primeau, the chairperson for Smoky River Family and Community Support Services, made this comment during the organization’s annual general meeting, held in the Town of Falher office council chamber during the evening of April 24.
“Personnel have had to adjust to programs, balance budgets and provide the services and care to our region and beyond,” says Primeau.
“The transportation program has a large part of the debt paid off and will continue to work on fundraising to eliminate it. The need to increase rates for activities will make the program cost effective.”
Primeau also notes the youth programs are strong and provide essential care and education for youth in the areas of self-esteem, anti-bullying, mental health and self care.
She concluded by highlighting the work of Lynn Florence, who took over the role of director from Georgia Iliou last year, as well as the efforts of the board to make the organization successful.
Florence offered her director’s report as well.
In 2017, Smoky River FCSS had three full-time and one part-time staff member, as well as three summer staff. Crystal Marschner is the Youth and Family Program coordinator, Jean Moore-Lemoine s the Senior Development Coordinator and Diane Servant is the administrative assistant.
Smoky River FCSS offers the Roots of Empathy program, with Marie-Anne Jones as the instructor at Ecole Providence in McLennan, while Marschner is the instructor at Ecole Routhier in Falher and at Eaglesham School as well.
Smoky River FCSS has other partnerships, including DARE with the RCMP, the Smoky River Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee.
Concerning children and youth programming, Smoky River FCSS offers the Babysitter’s Training Program and 22 youth completed it in 2017. There’s also the Healthy Youth Relationships program and 349 students participated last year.
The Roots of Empathy program helps children learn about a baby’s needs and development and lets children see the loving relationship grown between the parent and baby. The program was offered at Ecole Routhier, Ecole Providence and at Eaglesham School last year.
Smoky River FCSS also offers the Summer Youth Program and 85 children participated last year. It offers youth ages 6-12, the opportunity to participate in affordable activities, which promote positive youth development and self-esteem.
Other programs offered to children include the Back Pack Program – a joint program with all schools in the region to provide school supplies to students in need – and Beyond the Hurt, provided to students at Ecole Routhier to help prevent bullying and build empathy respect.
For Family Day, Smoky River FCSS offers a program grant for activities. Organizations can apply and three of them did for Family Day in 2017. Approximately 50 participants took part in those activities.
Ol’ Tyme Family celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2017, in which 1,112 people participated. The event is held at the Elks and Royal Purple Community Hall in McLennan on the second and last Friday each month, from September through May.
“It is a socially appropriate event that allows families to communicate in a safe, drug and alcohol-free environment,” as per the 2017 annual report.
This report also highlighted the Smoky River Transportation Program.
In 2017, 386 people utilized the program for trips and Grande Prairie and Peace River. Also in 2017, 134 youth used it for the summer youth program trips, 74 people used it for FCSS events (youth and seniors), 103 people used it for YouthTrips, 12 people used it for medical or private rental, 48 people used it for organizational rentals and 210 people passengers used it for Trips with Jean.
The Smoky River FCSS Christmas Voucher saw 223 people, including adults and children, access this program. As for the Food Bank program, which is run in partnership with the High Prairie and District Food Bank, 176 individuals/families utilized it.
Smoky River FCSS celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017. A celebration was held at the Club Alouette in Falher on Oct. 20, with 141 people attending. Other highlights in the 2017 annual report:
. 169 clients accessed the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program.
. 180 people participated in the National Child Day event, held on Nov. 20 each year.
. 16 clients access the Home Supports Program.
. 31 students participated in the Home Alone Program, which is open to children ages nine and up.
Other highlights of the annual general meeting included accepting the minutes of the 2017 AGM, Michel Sylvain of Sylvain & Company providing his auditor’s report and the election of the officers for 2018. Sandy Primeau continues as chairperson and Lindsay Brown is the vice-chairperson.