Family Resource Centre Society for the North Okanagan board member Barb Keith wants the community to know that the centre has a variety of support programs and information for people of all ages.

Family Resource Centre Society for the North Okanagan board member Barb Keith wants the community to know that the centre has a variety of support programs and information for people of all ages.

Supporting families for 20 years

The Family Resource Centre for the North Okanagan offers programs for family members of all ages and with a variety of concerns

The Family Resource Centre for the North Okanagan celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, continuing core programs and adding others as needed.

“There is huge confidentiality with all our programs so sometimes we feel that people don’t know what is available here for them,” said Jan Schulz, executive director.

The centre provides counseling, support and therapeutic programs with qualified staff members for individuals, families and groups. Most programs are free but there is a charge for some group programs. Payment for programs is on a sliding scale to keep things affordable and accessible to everyone.

The Family Resource Centre started when counselors and other professionals in the community saw that there were gaps in services and that some people could not afford the assistance they needed. The centre, with a volunteer board of directors, has some funding from Interior Health and the provincial government and receives a grant from the United Way for some programs but must also rely on fundraising and donations.

The centre started with two programs which are still running, community counseling and  community support volunteers. Programs now include PIE (Parenting Isn’t Easy), family support, sexual abuse recovery, sexual abuse intervention, counseling for children and youth with psychiatric disorders, senior support volunteers,  couples’ groups, anger management groups, children’s groups (including grief and loss and separation and divorce, and social skills and team-building) and African style dance for women. Participation in most groups is by self-referral.

“We like self-referral because it means the person recognizes that there is something that needs to change and they are ready to do the work,” said Schulz.

People who refer themselves to the centre can come for an assessment interview to help them determine which group would work for them. If the centre does not have a suitable group for an individual, it will make referrals to other community services.

“The children’s groups are very important because the pressure of our society on children is so tremendous,” said Barb Keith, a member of the board of directors for the Family Resource Centre.

Centre help includes short-term financial assistance to help people get settled into jobs or go back to school, and Christmas hampers. Other assistance might take the form of getting families a Good Food Box (fresh vegetables and fruit to make healthy meals) for a year or helping families whose children have severe medical needs.

Counselors train volunteers to work in the community support program, with seniors and with groups. The centre, with a staff of 25, sees about 1,500 ongoing, new and returning clients each year.

“I grew up with a single mother and I know what it takes to raise a family. I want to give back to the community by doing something to help make things better for people when they need it,” said Keith, who is retired from work in the federal government.

“I am pleased to be on the board of directors. We don’t direct the daily operations of the centre but we help establish goals and objectives and the budget with the executive director. With our chairman, Marcel Korver, we are accountable to the community for the support that they give to the centre.”

The Family Resouce Centre Society of the North Okanagan is accredited through the Commission of Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, a North America-wide organization that does independent performance analysis of programs and staff qualifications.

“Our reward is the change that the programs can make in peoples’ lives,” said Schulz. “Sometimes it is totally amazing, they don’t even look like the same person who came in when they leave, and have learned how to cope with the issues in their lives.”

One program where she sees a lot of change is the Shame Busters support group where people discover that they are not alone in shame and that they can let shame go or deal with it in a healthy way.

The next Family Resource Centre fundraiser will be the popular Masquerade Ball back for a second year Oct. 20.

The Family Resource Centre offices are in The People Place. For more information about programs call 250-545-3390 or see www.vernonfrc.ca.