Sunshine Coast Community Services Society (SCCSS) marked 40 years of service on Sept. 18 with a garden party and dinner following their annual general meeting where accolades for the group’s many years of service were given.
Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons summed up the importance of SCCSS when he noted their phone number, 604-885-5881, was the first thing he learned as a social worker on the Coast about 22 years ago.
“It was always the social worker who would call Project Parent at wits end,” Simons recalled. “The organization’s obviously been such an important part of our community … their dedication to helping the more vulnerable in our community will always be there at the core, so I’m just thankful that you’re working hard and that people are still involved and that the programs and services that are being offered are still being offered because our community needs them as much, if not more, than ever.”
SCCSS is the umbrella organization for dozens of community programs run throughout the Coast including family and youth services such as counselling and support circles, together against violence services such as the Yew Transition House and Thyme Second Stage program, child development services such as parent and tot drop-ins and infant development programs and community in action services such as Better at Home and the Community Resource Centre.
The society has always endeavoured to be responsive to the community’s needs and has in the past taken on pressing projects, like helping to secure low cost housing for the Arrowhead Clubhouse Society, which serves those with mental illness on the Coast.
Former member of the Arrowhead board, Cam Reid, thanked SCCSS for their involvement in that particular project.
“I must admit we had our backs up and we were a little bit disappointed because we thought that we should be doing it, but we recognized that community services had the hammer with the Arrowhead board because we didn’t have the credibility, we didn’t have the track record, and there were some questions about our capabilities,” Reid said.
“So I’d like to thank you for stepping in and working with the government, working with the Arrowhead board and the Arrowhead clients to make Arrowhead work.”
SCCSS board chair Karen Archer thanked the speakers for their kind words, noting they were “very honouring” for the staff at SCCSS.
The large SCCSS staff had been headed by co-executive directors Lucie McKeirnan and Diana Rae since last June when former executive director Vicki Dobbyn stepped down; however, the co-executive contract was recently terminated by the board.
Archer told Coast Reporter the reason was that the board wanted a “more stable, long-term solution to our leadership,” at SCCSS.
“They are good people with good skills. Neither of them had ever been an executive director before, but we liked what we saw and along with them we decided to step outside the box and be innovative and try this model [of co-executive directors] although because it was a model that was new to all of us we did that model on a contract basis,” Archer said, noting the contract was for a maximum of two years.
After the board reviewed the model they decided to abandon it. “We just couldn’t see that this model would be that stable, long-term solution to our leadership,” Archer said.
The board has advertised for a new executive director to take them into the future. Until they find the right candidate, Tracy Wiseman is steering the ship.
“She stepped back from the board a few months ago when it appeared that this was the direction we were going to go,” Archer said. “So she knows the organization and she’s got some senior leadership skills that the rest of us don’t have. So it seemed like a really good community solution, because the place definitely needs on-going decision-making and direction.”
Once a new executive director is in place, Archer said the organization will need to look at being “creative and innovative” to continue to meet the needs of the community over the next 40 years.
“I think we will need to be really innovative to step up and clearly define where services need to reside and how we meet all of those needs in the future,” she noted.
Find out more about SCCSS at www.sccss.ca.