HCS on to new horizons

Hope Community Services moves forward despite recent grant losses.

HCS is located in the building of the Hidden Treasures thrift store it manages for the community

Since it’s inception on December 21st 1978, Hope Community Services (HCS) has made its presence known in Hope and surrounding areas. After 36 solid years and strong partnerships with the Fraser Health Authority, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Federal Restorative Justice, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, as well as a host of local groups — the non-profit society lost out on a bid to the Ministry of Children and Family Development, losing some key pilot programs and key people along with it.

“Unfortunately HCS was not successful in its bid — for this reason, several of our programs will no longer be run by us,” said Michelle LaBossiere, president of HCS board of directors.

Among the myriad of programs lost due to insufficient funds to cover costs the Excel Student Program (for at risk children), the Youth Drop In Centre, Childcare Resource and Referral, Trauma Intervention (for sexually abused children who suffer from complex trauma), Family Support and Family Therapy, Strengthening Families, and the Youth Suicide Prevention program have been cancelled.

“The Youth Suicide Prevention Program has also ended, but this was a five year pilot project, which ran from September 2009 to 2014,” said LaBossiere. In February the Ministry of Children and Family Development posted a new contract — they are apparently going from area to area presenting a contract pertinent to certain programs, quite a list of programs, but the budget went down from about $500,000 to $300,000.”

Subsequently, HCS placed a bid for the imperative contract in an effort to sustain their invaluable programs.

“We were not successful — some of the programs that we do are federally funded and we will continue with those, but we lost our pilot projects to the other bidder who won the grant,” she said. “We will continue to do as much as we can — we have an interim executive director Michele Thornhill, who is doing her best and the board is doing the best they can to support the staff.”

Many of the qualified staff are moving to other work because of the lack of funding. HCS  will have a slightly different profile in Hope and will continue to serve the community out of their main office at the Thrift Store and the building on Hudson Bay Street (Better Beginnings, Family Place and Family Resource Programs).

“We only have five people working in community services, instead of nine or eleven and we are applying for other programs that we can run, while continuing the programs involving babies and young moms,” said LaBossiere.

Grants are a necessity to staying afloat and the HCS will continue to apply for them and programs as they come up, but in the interim they will continue with the Thrift Store and the Food Bank,

“We’re still running lots of programs — we didn’t just throw our hands up in the air and go,” LaBossiere told The Hope Standard. “The Youth Suicide Prevention pilot project was let go, so there is no funding for that. Our main office is out of the Better Beginnings Building by the recreation centre — that’s where we run our programs for new moms and stuff for little kids and kids with behavior problems and that kind of thing.”

The current and remaining employees all have experience in social work, excluding the tireless board of directors, which consists of a retired teacher, a retired town employee and another member who works as a matron in the local lock up, according to LaBossiere.

“With Michele Thornhill as interim executive director and a few of the rest of our excellent staff, the board of HCS will be able to continue to serve our community in new and exciting ways and to expand those services in the years ahead, and to boldly go where we have not gone before.”

Recognition of the important work that the staff of HCS has done for the community and the acknowledgement of their dedicated and tireless efforts to the Society is imperative.

“The message, I’d like to get across to everyone is for the townspeople to keep supporting us, keep supporting the Food Bank and to just say hi to us — we need some encouragement.”