Groups benefit from FCSS grants
Okotoks: 13 organizations receive $137,000 in support
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Apr 02, 2014 06:00 am
Community groups supporting Okotoks seniors, students and special needs residents are just a few of those who will benefit from more than $100,000 in grants approved by town council last week.
Town council approved $137,000 on March 24 in Family and Community Support Services grants for 13 programs.
Council provides the grants each year, which is covered by provincial FCSS funding, to support organizations that provide programming and support for Okotoks residents.
Council increased the amount it provided for community groups with the grants by $2,000 for 2014.
While the increase is significant, Debbie Posey, Okotoks FCSS team leader, said the Town wanted to do something to increase the amount of funding available, particularly as the affects of last year’s flood continue to be felt.
“The agencies I think will be grateful for that little bit of extra money this year,” she Posey.
The list of grant recipients includes the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Okotoks which received $22,000; the Christ the Redeemer School Division received $25,000 for its community connections program; Foothills Victim Services received $5,000; the Foothills School Division received $18,000 for two programs and the Rowan House Emergency Shelter received $9,000.
The High River Parent Link Centre received $10,000, which will allow it to increase its work in Okotoks to a full day each week. At present, the centre offers drop-in services in town on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
“We will probably extend our hours in the morning and we’ll probably be able to offer drop-in programming from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. as well,” said Nikki Gass, High River Parent Link Centre program assistant.
The centre is based in High River, where is provides a range of services all week.
The centre offers a drop-in program in Okotoks for parents to bring their children in to play with toys, games and to meet other parents in the community.
Gass said there is a high demand for their services in the community and the funding will allow them to be able to increase what they’re able to offer in Okotoks.
“We know we need more hours because of the large amount of people we‘re seeing,” she said. “We can’t quite fit all of the people who want to come to the program in one morning.”
Laura Padget, program co-ordinator with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Okotoks, said they need more volunteers to serve as mentors for young people and the funding will allow the group to spend time focusing on recruitment.
“It means a lot to the program in town,” he said. “Right now we’re in our initial building stages of the program, going on two years now.”
Padget said 94 per cent of the funding the group receives support its programs in the community, including recruiting and training volunteers, as well as supporting work to match young people with mentors.
The program has 20 volunteers to serve as mentors for 35 young people, and there is a waitlist of 17.
“The community as a whole has a great need for the program so what this is going to allow us to do is to spend some time focusing on recruitment and program expansion,” said Padget.
They also operate a teen mentor program where people students in Grades 8 and 9 work with younger children in a supervised environment.