Member news

Board Voice members are active all around BC, and we will aim to keep you updated on their notable activities and other news here.



United Way steps up for Abbotsford’s anti-gang program

Just when all looked bleak for the anti-gang program that is an important part of the supports provided by our member Abbotsford Community Services, the United Way came forward Oct. 7 with $100,000 to keep the program going.

Desperate parents had just raised $15,000 in private donations to try to keep the doors open for In It Together when the United Way stepped up with its support.

Alison Gutrath, community coordinator for the program, said more than 100 youth had to be phased out of the program over the 2018 summer when it became clear that the piece of federal funding required to maintain the program – which, like so many social-health services, relies on cobbled-together funding from a variety of sources – wasn’t going to be available.

At least 40 of those youth still really needed the support, she added.

Since the program launched in April 2014, some 427 participants aged 12-30 showed a 95 per cent engagement rate, becoming involved in the program for the long term. And of those in the program, program staff estimate a 54 per cent decrease in total risk scores after 20 months, reported the Abbotsford News.

EHT update: Sept 20/18

Board Voice continues to seek more clarity on the impact of the Employer Health Tax, which could have a substantial financial impact on our larger members (those with operating budgets over $1.5 million) if there is no relief available for community non-profits whose majority of funding comes from government.

The legislature returns Oct. 1 and at the moment is scheduled to sit through Nov. 29, though session dates often change. We know that the EHT regulations are expected to be introduced during that session, but we have had no success in establishing exactly when, or what those regulations will say.

Here’s information from the government released in July that lays out taxation levels to expect based on operating budgets: Employer Health Tax notice July 2018

It’s our understanding that the government will not be generous in its interpretation of “location,” which means hub models could feel significant impact. To meet the definition of a separate location for tax purposes, it appears that each “location” must have its own payroll process in place.

Board Voice participated in a Sept. 13 conference call with the Federation of Community Social Services of BC about EHT, but the Fed knows no more than we do about what the regulations will end up being. Here is the Board Voice letter to the editor we wrote following up on a previous letter to Finance Minister Carole James; we will be writing another letter to Minister James this month.

We recommend that if your organization has a budget above $1.5 million, get in touch with your MLA very soon and make sure he or she knows the impossibility of finding an additional several thousand dollars (tens of thousands of dollars in some cases) when you are a non-profit with contractual obligations for your service provisions and very little discretionary funding.

Child-care crisis is all about undervalued educators

Our member organization Cridge Centre for the Family has written an important piece in the Sept. 10 Victoria Times Colonist on the Capital Region’s child-care crisis. Authors Paula West-Patrick and Joanna Specht, both on staff at the Cridge, note that the reason for the dire shortage of childcare spaces comes down to an undervaluing of the Early Childhood Educators required to do this vital work.

The people who look after and teach our children during the infant/toddler years and onward ought to be some of the most valued people out there, given the importance of those early years to health and development long into adulthood. And yet they continue to be underpaid and viewed more like “babysitters” than educators. No small wonder we end up in crisis when people who’d love a career in ECE simply can’t afford to make that choice.

That’s one big squeeze!

Congratulations to our member organization AimHi in Prince George for clinching the top fundraiser spot for the second year in a row at the August 2018 “Big Squeeze” community lemonade sale.

The one-day lemonade blitz is a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Prince George. Launched in 2013, the event typically raises more than $6,000 a year for BBBS. AimHi not only does a heck of a job fundraising at the annual event, but in 2016 also won for tastiest lemonade!

A big Board Voice welcome to Volunteer Cowichan!

We’re delighted to welcome Volunteer Cowichan to the Board Voice family. This Duncan-based community organization has a mission to raise awareness of the power of service, and encourages people to volunteer. Volunteer Cowichan assists with initiatives, projects, and organizations to meet community needs and interests.

We particularly like Volunteer Cowichan’s “One Day Only” listings, where short-term volunteers looking to engage in their community for a day or two can find opportunities. The organization also maintains a directory of Cowichan Valley non-profits – if that describes your organization, click here to join the directory!

Want to be Facebook friends? Find Volunteer Cowichan here.

Cannabis and mental health: Vancouver forum July 26, 2018

The Vancouver and Richmond teams of the BC Schizophrenia Society will be holding a forum in Vancouver on the evening of July 26, exploring the issue of marijuana use and mental health.

Presenters are Radia Esop and Vivian Yih. They are clinical pharmacy specialists in psychiatry at Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services, and are part of the Mental Health and Substance Use provincial working group and the Psychosis Treatment Optimization Program.

The forum is from 6-8:30 p.m at Library Square Conference Center, Peter Kaye Room, 350 West Georgia St. in Vancouver. For more information and to RSVP,  please contact:

Andrew Kellett, Vancouver East Educator

Community Bridge ED retiring after 27 years

June 19, 2018

A big Board Voice farewell to Karla Marsh, who is retiring as executive director at Community Bridge in Fort St. John (formerly North Peace Community Resource Society) after 27 years with the organization. Here’s her note she shared on the Community Bridge Facebook page. The new ED is Christine Clark, who is a familiar face at the non-profit after her own years working there in other positions.

I am retiring from my position as Executive Director at the end of June 2018. I have had the privilege of working with many dedicated staff and board members over my 27 years with the organization and have felt tremendous support from the community for the programs and services Community Bridge offers. I will miss being part of the daily life of such a super organization. I will be staying here in my home town of Fort St John and have many interests I hope to pursue.

Christine Clark, who has also been with Community Bridge for many years, will be my successor. She knows the organization and the community very well and I wish her every success as Executive Director. Thanks, everyone, for everything. Will see you around. 

Fair Wages Commission: Report on alternate minimum wage earners

June 4, 2018

BC’s Fair Wages Commission, launched in October 2017, has now released its second report, this one examining five categories of workers who have historically been exempted from minimum-wage standards in BC. Fascinating reading!

With many of our member agencies providing services to women, elderly people, youth, immigrants and working people struggling to maintain their households on low incomes, this report is an important read. The majority of those occupying the  five categories of excluded workers – farm workers, live-in home-care workers, liquour servers, live-in camp leaders and residential caretakers – are significantly more likely to be from populations (especially women) who our agencies are serving.

Berry-pickers in the Fraser Valley, for instance, are overwhelmingly elderly females living with their extended families, and are primarily immigrants from South Asia. A startling 88 per cent of the farm workers paid at piece rates for harvests in the Fraser Valley are over the age of 55.

Members, look for highlights from the report in our June newsletter, coming later this month.

Nelson Community Services: Four-part WOMEN INC 

May 27, 2018

NCS’s four-part series that has been developed as a trauma-informed pre-employment program for women begins June 7 at NCS offices in Nelson. The weekly WOMEN INC program runs through June 28 and is open to all women who are experiencing barriers to employment, including those who are survivors of violence and abuse, identify as Indigenous, live with disabilities, or who have immigrated to Canada.

The program offers a blend of personal and career development components, and is designed to identify undiscovered strengths, examine and reduce barriers to employment, and develop career-related skills.

Abbotsford Community Services project aims to prevent gang involvement

May 18, 2018

The provincial government has granted $75,000 to Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) to help South Asian female youth who are at high risk of becoming involved in criminal activity or those who are currently involved in youth crime or gang activity.

The initiative will help local South Asian females aged 12-22 who are trafficking drugs or have friends, partners or family members involved in gangs. In addition to one-on-one case management, counselling and group work with the youth, the staff will reach out to family members with education and support services.

“Women face unique risks in gang involvement,” said Deepak Purewal, a youth outreach worker at ACS. “They may end up being sexually exploited or targeted by rival gangs because of their relationship with a gang member.”

The Enhancing Crime Prevention with South Asian Youth project will run under the existing In It Together program at ACS which works to interrupt the flow of young people into gangs. The money will fund three staff members including Purewal’s full-time position and a part-time curriculum developer.

A third staff member will work as a mentor facilitator to match at-risk youth with positive volunteer mentors. Previously, the In It Together staff did not have the resources to find, screen and train potential mentors.

“We are seeing more at-risk females than expected,” said Alison Gutrath, community coordinator of In It Together. “We’re grateful for this funding to help us continue to address the issue of youth in gangs from all angles.”

Youth previously supported by outreach workers at In It Together have seen improvements such as increased legitimate employment, reduced family conflict and less contact and relationships with criminally involved peers.

In total, nearly $6.5 million in grants from civil and criminal forfeiture funding were awarded to programs that help women escaping violence and other crime prevention initiatives. ACS was also granted $19,987 for the Stop Exploiting Youth program and $11,805 for a Self-Discovery Support Group for South Asian Women experiencing domestic violence.