It comes as no surprise that B.C.’s 25 Friendship Centres have collectively hit a million points of service per year milestone, said Cariboo Friendship Society’s executive director Rosanna McGregor.
“We are busy all over the place with all the programming we have,” she told the Tribune after the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres announced the milestone Wednesday.
Last year Cariboo Friendship Society delivered 59,218 points of service through its shelter bed stays, transition house and all of its 26 social programs, executive secretary Lorraine Cross said.
“We had 3,159 people alone visit our front desk,” Cross added.
Since January of 2018, staff at CFS have helped 578 low income people file income tax returns, McGregor said.
“If seniors don’t do their income tax, then their guaranteed income supplements and old age security is affected, same with the fair pharmacare, so it’s important they file,” she said ,noting anyone who forgot to file will be coming in now as June is when they will see changes or may not even receive a cheque.
From its emergency shelter and pregnancy outreach, to addictions, Aboriginal child and youth mental health and elder programs, the CFS is trying to provide holistic health services and is in the process of trying to secure some daycare funding, McGregor said.
“We house 272 people in our social housing.”
By the middle of June, the major renovation of the main building on Third Avenue South, should be completed.
The mortgage will be paid out in 2019, and in exchange for the renovation, the Cariboo Friendship Society has agreed to provide social housing for the next ten years.
McGregor has been with the friendship centre for 28 years and said this year two employees — foods manager Shannon Holmes and Little Moccasins Daycare co-ordinator Sheena Rogers-Normand— will be celebrating 25 years of employment.
“I’ve only worked two jobs in my life,” Rogers said. “McDonald’s and here.”
Presently there are 83 staff members and a total of 96 properties, plus five satellite offices in Williams Lake.
There are 25 friendship centres in the province, and the first one was established in Vancouver in the early 1950s.
Next year the Cariboo Friendship Society will celebrate 50 years of incorporation as a society.
“We are interested in economic development and economic security for the city as much as everyone else is,” McGregor said. “We have a $3.5 million budget and fixed assets of $12 million invested in our community.”