By Janet McClean Senft, Eagle Valley Community Support Society
The Eagle Valley Community Support Society (EVCSS) generally serves the municipality of Sicamous and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District Area E, except in the case of seniors support services, which we operate throughout the Shuswap and also Enderby and Chase with the Better at Home program and resource/referral supports.
We have a very broad mandate, services that include resource and referral, early years and parenting programs and services, family support and counseling for children, youth, and adults, food security and nutrition education programs, advocacy, the aforementioned seniors services, support with forms, applications and technology and the CRA Volunteer Income Tax Preparation program. In addition, we have partnerships with many other groups and agencies that deliver services to our community.
EVCSS has had a tumultuous year full of highs and lows. Some of our services have actually been improved by what we have learned about serving through technology; however, we have also experienced many challenges trying to provide the level of service needed.
The community support has been amazing. A large donation received last year helped us tremendously in weathering this COVID-19 storm, along with extra support from the province through Food Banks BC and help from Food Banks Canada.
On the other hand, we have never had so many people struggling and the increase in the need for food support, safe housing, transportation and, in particular, an enormous increase in the need for mental health supports for people of all ages has been a bit overwhelming.
Our Better at Home program saw huge shifts in how we delivered service, but the new services we provided to keep seniors safe in their homes resulted in closer relationships that benefit all.
Many long terms plans and goals are on hold due to COVID-19 and that has been frustrating, but some positives were EVCSS being chosen as the operator of the new District of Sicamous licensed child care facility – something we had advocated years for, receiving funding to be able to begin a process of certifying our kitchen for food processing, and strengthening our relationships with area Secwepemc Indigenous communities.
All in all, we are grateful to be able to serve, and while we will be very glad to see the end of the pandemic, we have learned much, and grown as an organization due to the challenges presented.
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