The Castlegar and District Community Services Society (CDCSS) held their Christmas open house on Wednesday (Dec. 12) at it’s office in downtown Castlegar. The open house allowed members of the public to mingle with board members and staff and learn about the various programs the society offers.
Community Services offers a number of programs that supports families in need of service.
“We help women and children who are at risk of abuse,” said Mary Devan, clinical supervisor for Castlegar and District Community Services. “We have counselling programs, support programs; we have a safe shelter for women; we have a mom support group; a family support group. Women’s counselling services; counselling geared towards children and youth. We now have a new seniors program running through here, which is a seniors advocate. We have a number of different programs that support the community in different ways.”
The CDCSS has been in operation for 33 years, says CDCSS board chair Roberta Hamilton. “That’s quite a long time,” she said. “The other thing is that most communities in the West Kootenay/Boundary area have a community services society and we are all members of the Kootenay/Boundary Community Services Co-operative based out of Nelson. It’s one of the first co-operatives of its kind in Canada. That allows all the community services societies and other members to be supported by a central co-operative that works for us and with us.”
Devan says one of the bigger mandates for last year was to increase the safe home delivery.
“We’ve had volunteers in the community who have opened their houses as safe places for women and children fleeing violence,” she said. “Those safe houses are really for a short time – three to five days – then women would have to leave the safe house for a transition house in either Trail or Nelson because we don’t have a transition house in this area. We’re not funded for it. We’ve been able to receive some funding to increase that program and have an apartment available as a safe shelter for women so they can stay longer and not be forced to go back to the house they were fleeing, or leave the community. So we’re trying to find ways to lessen the obstacles for women. So that’s come into effect and we hope to develop it more in the future. We also hope to continue to try and get more services and counselling supports for men in the community because we recognize that’s a gap.”
The CDCSS has also developed a BRIDGES program to help women who have barriers to accessing the work market.
“We’ve run our first group and we’re hoping to run two more in the following year,” said Devan. “That’s helping women attach better to the community, or if they’re ready for the labour market – get them into the workplace. So we’ll continue to develop that program into the future.”
The CDCSS is a non-profit, charitable society which gets funding from contracts with various government ministries, health authorities and others, says Devan.
“Last year, this agency served over 500 individuals through the various programs,” said Hamilton. “Our staff was very diligent in providing presentations to over 600 people who attended the various presentations. This is a staff who is very dedicated to their work, even though they are not necessarily all full-time staff.”
“The board is responsible for governance and due diligence ,” said Hamilton. “The board usually just has one paid employee, and that’s the executive director.”
At the moment, the CDCSS board is without an executive director as they are currently seeking one. “The board is in the midst of a transition,” said Hamilton. “We hope soon to have hired a replacement. We’re also looking for any new members wishing to join the board and help out.”
Anyone interested in becoming a board member, or learning more about the CDCSS, or wishes to access any of the services, can call 250-365-2104 or drop in to their office at 1007-2nd Street in Castlegar.