The Whitevalley Community Resource Centre has been in Lumby for 20 years.
At its beginning, Gay Jewitt, who is now executive director, was a young mother who found time to volunteer at her local food bank. Through this, she recognized that the people of Lumby had many other types of needs, as well as feeding themselves and their families. Working together with other members of the community, she began to shape a group of qualified people with diverse talents who could collectively meet the many needs of the community.
As the program took off, it progressed into a dynamic non-profit organization, consisting of volunteers and staff members. Today, it provides services to one-sixth of the population of Lumby. Residents of Mabel Lake, Whitevale, Trinity Valley, Creighton Valley, Lavington and Cherryville also benefit from the centre’s programs.
The programs benefit all members of the public from newborns to seniors. All of the services provided have one common theme: community. The centre works very closely with the local RCMP, schools, thrift store, and senior groups, to mention a few. The relationship that has been established between the centre and these groups makes for a very effective service. Communication between these groups facilitates the accessibility of many types of resources and services to the people who need them.
The programs offered include referrals, confidential counselling, family life skill programs, as well as employment and training information. These services provide families with support in parenting, addictions, and building life skills that will help residents throughout their lives. They provide support and opportunity of growth to help with emotional, financial, physical and social issues for all ages. In a recent interview about the life skills the centre provides, Jewitt expressed the importance of community.
“Donating and trading by utilizing the food banks and thrift stores as a tool to provide others in need with essential items is a great way of making the most of what your community has,” she said, adding that the Whitevalley Community Resource Centre is an example of this.
The increase in the cost of doing business (insurance, mileage, audit, facility rental, etc.) along with some reductions in current funding may lead to the diminishing of services and counsellors that the centre offers, which would be a great loss to the community and surrounding areas. As an attempt to show the importance of continued funding, local politicians Mayor Kevin Acton and several members of the Village Council along with Rick Fairbairn representing the Regional District of the North Okanagan spoke directly with Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development.
The centre is hopeful that she may come to visit the community in person, in hopes of her offering core funding to assist in keeping the doors open. In support of their cause, clients have also begun to write letters of support to their local newspapers to shed light on the centre’s needs. They also encourage others to take advantage of the programs offered at the Whitevalley Community Resource Centre.
Cayla Brown is a student at Okanagan College in Vernon.