Board Voice members are active in their communities all around BC, and we will aim to keep you updated on some of their notable activities and other news relevant to social care, social health and non-profits.

BC’s Big At-Home Picnic

What a great idea from BC Parks – a virtual picnic that will let us all stay home and keep our distance while enjoying each other’s company! The first picnic was March 28, but we expect the concept will prove popular enough that there will be other dates to come. Here’s the writeup, and the Facebook page to watch for future events:

Whether you’re solo-picnicking (or, as we call it, iso-picnicking!) or with others from your immediate household, hop over to this event page to start your picnic. We’ll be hosting a welcome-to-the-picnic toast, then you can tune in to streams from a variety of entertainers. At the same time, you’ll be virtually connected with your community as you watch, together.

We’ll be posting all of the entertainment links right here so you can curate your own perfect picnic experience. Interested in performing? Send us a message! Let’s spend an afternoon, as proud British Columbians, connecting while staying safe and maintaining proper social distance. Let’s get together (virtually) and do what we all love: eating good food, connecting with family and friends, and appreciating the supernatural beauty of where we live.

While normally we would be encouraging people to get out to parks, they are crowded and some people are not respecting social distancing. That’s why we are organizing this at home, virtual picnic. Please respect all provincial and federal health requests so that we can end the spread of COVID-19 as quickly as possible.

Here are tips on how to picnic at home safely:
1. Stay at your home!
2. Some great places to picnic: your living room, kitchen, balcony, front or back yard.
3. Picnic on your own, or with a partner, your kids or your pet. Stick to your immediate household. Connect with other people virtually using video platforms like Facetime, Google Hangouts or Zoom.
4. Practice good hygiene by washing or sanitizing your hands frequently and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or your upper sleeve.
5. Adhere to all health and safety guidelines from the Provincial Health Authority.

Canada’s most powerful women: Karin Kirkpatrick

Nov. 26, 2019 – The Women’s Executive Network has given top honours to the CEO of one of our member organizations, Karin Kirkpatrick of Family Services of Greater Vancouver. She has been named one of Canada’s top 100 most powerful women – and we heartily agree!

“As a leader, I am motivated every day by the clients we serve, and there is no question gender discrimination and inequality play a huge role in the difficulties our women clients face daily,” says Karin. “Women in Canada are more likely to live in poverty; experience intimate partner violence; receive lower pay; and carry most of the burden of caring for children and elders, among many other systemic roadblocks to equality, including accessing supports.

“These are the barriers we help support women to overcome every day at Family Services, and more than ever we are also advocating for systemic change to end gender discrimination and its devastating effects on the lives of women and children.”

The Top 100 Awards span the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, with the initial candidates selected by WXN’s Diversity Council. 

June Preston: Social services ambassador

Sept. 13, 2019

Our member Family Services of Greater Victoria liked their board member June Preston so much that they invented a new role for her when it came time for her to step down. If you’ve met  June, you’ll know why – her optimistic, upbeat and outgoing personality makes her a great ambassador for social care. From the FSGV website:

The Board Community Liaison is the board’s link to the social services and client community in Greater Victoria. June is an ex officio member of FSGV’s Board of Directors. She served six years on the board, and she has agreed to stay on by taking the role of Board Community Liaison.   ?June has had a distinguished career as a social worker since completing her Master of Social Work degree at the University of Calgary in 1972. She has been an important part of the social services community in the capital region since 1973. June quickly advanced to a leadership role in social services delivery.

She served 25 years as the Director of Family Education Services for the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health (VIHA). She has taught at Camosun College and the University of Victoria. A very active member of the British Columbia Association of Social Workers, she was the Victoria chapter’s Social Worker of the Year in 1988. June has served on the Dean of Human and Social Development’s Advisory Committee and the School of Social Work Advisory Committee at the University of Victoria. She was appointed as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria for six years, has been a Member of the Oak Bay Police Board, and she is an appointed Life Bencher for the Law Society of British Columbia. Congratulations to June on her Re-Appointment to Mental Health Review Board Hearings

Welcome, Archway Community Services!

Congratulations to our member organization Archway Community Services for a punchy new name (they were formerly Abbotsford Community Services and great website refresh.

“This change will be more inclusive for the clients we serve beyond Abbotsford and reduce confusion as people sometimes assumed that Abbotsford Community Services is an arm of the government or the city of Abbotsford. While the majority of our 90+ programs are still in Abbotsford, we also serve clients in Mission, Chilliwack, Langley and Chandigarh, India,” the agency notes on its website.

Why Archway?

“It took a lot of brainstorming and research to come up with a unique name that covered our various programs, but in the end we were drawn to the meaning behind Archway.

Archway was chosen because it reflects ‘people helping people’ in a collective effort to support the community. An ‘arch’ draws its strength from the individual pieces supporting each other which is a metaphor for how we work together with our community to support to those in need. The ‘way’ part of the name speaks to how we help people looking to discover their direction and provide a positive path forward.”

And of course, the name changes but the mission of Archway doesn’t. “We will continue fostering community wellbeing and social justice through positive action and leadership in order to achieve the vision of “justice, opportunities and equitable access for all.”

Lunch for Abbotsford seniors

Mark June 3 for a special “Lunch with the Bunch” marking Seniors Week, hosted by Abbotsford Community Services. Such a deal at $2 a person, which includes entertainment from Zumba with Kim and magician Trent Tinney.  The lunch is 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Space is limited, so please RSVP to Nancy at 604-870-3764 by May 29. Rides are available if needed.

Women of Distinction nominees

Congratulations to three notable leaders of Board Voice member organizations who have all been nominated in the non-profit category for a 2019 YWCA Women of Distinction award.

Nominated are Lynda Edmonds, CEO of our member organization Fraserside Community Services Society; Ingrid Kastens, CEO of Pacific Community Resources Society; and Christine Mohr, Executive Director of Options Community Services. Here are the YWCA writeups on each of these exemplary leaders. The awards ceremony is May 13 at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver.

Here’s what Lynda’s board members had to say about her to the New West Leader, which ran a March 9 article on her nomination:

Lynda Edmonds

“As CEO, Lynda led the successful transition of Peterson Place, a Fraserside program on the leading edge of public policy for homeless people with mental health and addictions issues, from a facility experiencing frequent critical incidents that compromised the safety of persons involved, to a campus community that prioritizes the safety and well-being of all.

“She evolved Fraserside’s practicum placement approach into a pipeline program to recruit and maintain volunteers and staff, and she developed the concept and infrastructure for Fraserside’s recruitment of Knowledge Philanthropists. Under her leadership, Fraserside received the Not-For-Profit Business of the Year – Over $1 Million 2015 Platinum Award from the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce.”

Since taking on the role of Fraserside’s CEO in 2012, Lynda has led Fraserside in the development of a strategic plan and helped create the infrastructure needed to measure and grow the agency.

“An experienced social worker and administrator, Lynda brings a unique combination of head and heart to her leadership of Fraserside Community Services Society,” Tamara Hunter, a member of Fraserside’s board, said in a press release. “It is an honour and achievement for Fraserside to have Lynda be selected as a nominee this year.”

The press release noted that Lynda has led the non-profit to sustainable fiscal management and culture change, while enhancing its grassroots mission to support Metro Vancouver’s vulnerable people.

“Throughout her 40-year career, Lynda has put first the people for whom she works, and her accomplishments are synonymous with theirs,” said Tamara. “She truly believes ‘We all belong.’”

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards honour female leaders whose outstanding achievements contribute to the well-being and future of communities across Metro Vancouver. This year’s winners will be announced at an awards gala on May 13 in Vancouver.

Introducing Board Voice’s newest board directors

A big Board Voice welcome to Ajit Mehat and Ernest Freeman, the two newest directors on the Board Voice board. Ajit and Ernest were elected by acclamation at the Board Voice 2018 annual general meeting in Richmond on Nov. 17.

Here are short bios of the two new additions. Nominee Bios 2018 AGM

Ernest is on the board of Community Bridge, in Fort St. John. Ajit is on the board of the BC Community Response Network, in Surrey. We wished a fond farewell to long-time Board Voice director Holly Kavanaugh at the AGM, as well as to directors Jody Dudley and David Rand.

Thank you to all our directors for stepping up from their busy lives and work with their home boards to give additional time to helping lead Board Voice in giving voice to volunteer board directors and senior staff of non-profit organizations throughout BC, all of them addressing the social determinants of health. 

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.