Tamara Robinson and Monika Hajzer love their jobs at the Salvation Army.
Robinson is the family services co-ordinator and outreach worker. Hajzer is the drug and alcohol counsellor.
On Friday afternoon, with the drop-in centre busy with men and women enjoying a cup of coffee, playing pool and visiting, both women said the clients really look out for each other.
“There is so much laughter, I love coming to work every day,” Hajzer said, noting she’s been on the job since October. “Right now I am getting to know the clients, building trusting relationships and getting to the root of their problems and assessing their needs.”
Together they work on sending people for treatment if that’s what they need.
“The majority of the men go to Harbour Light in Vancouver where we have a treatment facility and the women go to Life Recovery in Abbotsford, where there is a Christian-based program,” Robinson said.
Once the clients return to Williams Lake Hajzer and Robinson provide one-on-one follow up counseling.
Hajzer is also working on developing an eight-week program that will be held two times in 2016, one in the spring and one in the fall.
Robinson said there is often a stigma attached to the drop-in centre, but since she has been working there she has noticed how the clients take ownership of the place and treat the workers with respect.
“I’ve seen them buy coffee for each other and help out when someone seems down,” Hajzer added, noting the clients will pick up on the fact others are stressed and will offer an encouraging word.
She is in the process of starting up a men’s group and has been asking men who come to the Salvation Army for ideas about things they would like to see the group offer.
Hajzer has done workshops on stress management and mental health before coming to work in Williams Lake and enjoys helping people set realistic goals and expectations.
Robinson grew up in the Salvation Army and did a university practicum there before coming on as a staff member.
The need continues to grow, with the latest fiscal year numbers showing 27,500 lunches were served to the tune of $179,831 and 5,786 hampers were given out.
“Last Tuesday we served 153 people for lunch” Robinson said, adding the need has been growing across the province.
This year the Salvation Army has received 265 applications from families and singles for Christmas hampers, which will require $19,500 worth of gift cards. The amount is double the number of requests in 2014, Robinson said.