It’s been five years since Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) had an increase in funding from the Provincial government. Now an increase last fall has allowed the Okotoks FCSS to provide more than $225,000 other service providers and organizations in the Okotoks area.
In all, 15 organizations and groups took turns presenting their case in front of the FCSS Advisory Committee. After deliberation, it was Okotoks town council that took the committee’s recommendations and approved dispersal of the funds. All organizations contribute to the health and wellness of children, adults and seniors in Okotoks within the social services framework. As Okotoks continues to grow, the demand for services does too so the increase funding was welcome news.
There were two Okotoks groups that brought new requests to the committee this year that both provide valuable services to area residents. One is Dad’s Central which received funding for operating costs in the amount of $40,500. This group is being initiated by Wild Rose Community Connections supporting father-oriented parenting group and the advisory committee felt it was a sound investment in the Okotoks community. The executive director of Wild Rose Community Connections, Marianne Dickson, told the Okotoks Western Wheel that as a new program, she was thrilled that Dad’s Central received both recognition and funding, as equipping fathers for a challenging role will have a lasting effect on families and so many parent-support groups target mothers.
This group invites fathers, grandfathers, step-fathers or even big brothers to learn more about their role and support others in a relaxed, non-judgmental setting. Children are welcome at group get togethers where there is often an activity or game like basketball, a snack or small meal then supervision while the men hang out together in an adult-only support session. Often, says Dickson, men would seek out this type of support were not mentored by their own fathers and some aspects of parents which may seem second nature to some need to be learned and some basic skills acquired. It’s hoped that with this newly acquired funding that Dad’s Central can launch in mid-April 2016.
The other new funding request is from the Okotoks Food Bank. This new application was for money to hire a volunteer coordinator and they were provided with $17,600.
This application was of significance because the food bank can only run with volunteers and with the current high usage levels, more volunteers need to be obtained and trained under the direction of a paid employee. This is to ensure that volunteers aren’t over-used and burned out.
The Okotoks Food Bank recently conducted a capital campaign and purchased a new building which they recently moved in to. This grant money from the FCSS came at a critical time as all funds for the new building had to be garnered through donations.
Other area organizations which received funding include:
- Okotoks Big Brothers & Big Sisters
- Connections Program, Christ the Redeemer Catholic School Division
- Junior Achievement Foothills
- Okotoks & District Senior’s Club
- Meals on Wheels
- Plus many others