Susann Collins, the executive director of the South Cariboo Women’s Centre Society (back), and Sara Hockett, the centre’s former office assistant in the society’s office. Tara Sprickerhoff photo.

100 Mile House and District Women’s Centre Society to close

Board says it’s not sustainable to run two distinct non-profits

The 100 Mile House and District Women’s Centre Society is closing as the Board of Directors, which also represents the South Cariboo Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA-SCB), decided that having one Executive Director and Board of Directors to provide leadership to two distinctive non-profit organizations wasn’t feasible.

The society will dissolve on March 31 (the end of their fiscal year).

“We are feeling confident in this decision and that the best way to move forward as a Board is to seek sustainable long term ‘homes’ for important services for women and families in our community.”

The board says they are stretched thin after holding two distinct monthly meetings, as required, adding conducting annual fundraisers for two organizations is not sustainable in the long term.

The society was started by a group of local women in 1992 using funds from the Ministry for Women’s Equality. However, all Women’s Centres in B.C. lost their core funding in 2003, according to the board, though individual services and contracts remain funded.

“But we were able to keep our doors open and continue to provide services for women in the Southern Cariboo.”

The board says that funding was not a factor in the decision.

They’ve always had call to actions for the recruitment of new board members at AGMs but with day to day governance and any new members also having to commit to being a CMHA-SCB board member that represented a huge undertaking for most people, according to the board.

The board says responses to the coming closure have been mixed.

“Clients are saying that they are grateful for what the Women’s Centre has provided them, and recognizing that the drop in space has been really important to them. Many are asking why, and there have been some tears, as well as shock and anger. Others saying they understand the need to take these steps. Clients have been asking where they can go when the Women’s Centre closes. Staff have spent time brainstorming with clients about what the needs are and how to get these needs met elsewhere.”

The programs the society offers include the Stopping the Violence counselling program (for women who are experiencing or have experienced abuse), the Safe House program (providing safe housing for women and their children fleeing abuse), Community Partner for Legal Aid (providing information to women and men needing assistance in dealing with legal matters, and assisting them to apply for Legal Aid) and the Drop-In program (the safe drop-in space for women, and the Clothes Closet free store), in addition to other services it’s provided in the past such as Christmas Hampers.

The future of those services will become clearer near the March 31 deadline.

“Partner organizations have already come forward to support the society in any way they can. Funders of the services the society currently provides recognize there is a need for these valuable services in our community.”

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