Crisis centre expanding to Bonnyville

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After decades of assisting clients from Cold Lake, the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre (DMSCC) is expanding with an outreach office in Bonnyville.

Through the outreach program, the DMSCC assists women from around the Lakeland that are fleeing domestic violence or facing a life crisis. There has been a need to offer outreach services in Bonnyville for some time and the centre now has the resources to do so.

“Ensuring that we are able to reach those who need our services is very important to us,” said Susan White, executive director of the DMSCC. “We don’t just help those who stay in the shelter, but we also endeavour to help and support people before they find themselves in the situation where they have to stay with us.”

Opening an office in Bonnyville has been difficult because of a lack of resources and due to the distance for workers to travel. Now, with funding in hand, the centre is ready to offer the program and an outreach worker to deliver it.

The DMSCC has been in discussion with the Bonnyville and District FCSS to assist with finding office space in the area.

“It’s a great opportunity for our area, the town and our surrounding municipal district,” said Coun. Jim Cheverie, chair of the FCSS board. “Currently the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre in Cold Lake services the entire region, but it’s so busy that this expansion was deemed to be pretty necessary.”

FCSS board members from both the MD and Town of Bonnyville councils have met several times to find an office location for the outreach worker, who will be based in a non-busy section of town, away from areas where abusers can potentially spot victims entering the premises.

“It’s a little bit difficult, but I’m sure within the next few weeks we will come up with a location,” Cheverie said. “We can’t divulge the exact location of where that would be, but we’re going to be working on this because both the MD council and town council representatives on our FCSS board see a tremendous merit in having this.”

The outreach program will offer group sessions such as “Empowering Women,” which will discuss topics including healthy relationships, self-defence and self-esteem. It will also include one on one client contact that focuses on confidential support and access to resources with other community agencies.

“Not only will our qualified staff be offering a series of programs, they will also be providing public education in the local area,” White explained. “We hope to work with the schools and other youth organizations to offer healthy relationship workshops to young teens. This would focus on discussions surrounding effective communication, sexual consent and the foundations of a healthy relationship.”

In order to expand the program, there was also a requirement for transportation that would allow outreach workers the ability to travel to clients and presentations. The DMSCC approached local car dealerships to see if they were able to help.

Lake City Motor Products in Cold Lake provided two vehicles at a $12,000 discount and donated part of the purchase price back to the centre.

“We require resources to be able to reach those that need our services most, however we are still a non-profit and the idea of purchasing two vehicles we needed seemed out of reach,” White noted. “Lake City Motor Products made this possible for us; their generosity is appreciated more than they know.”

Along with several other non-profits in the region, the centre also received a $20,182 donation from Canadian Natural that will go towards setting up computers and office materials in the new space.

“The funds that we have received from Canadian Natural has really helped us with expanding our programming,” said Serina Parsons, resource development coordinator of the DMSCC. “Their donations help open doors and create options for the programs we offer.”

She added, “In order to set up the outreach expansion project we did need a lot of support and commitment from various agencies and people and they really came through.”

According to Cheverie, the outreach worker will start work in Bonnyville towards the end of February.

More information about the new services offered at the DMSCC will be made available once a permanent office space has been established in Bonnyville. For more information, visit: www.dmscc.ca.

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