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Port Renfrew Health and Social Services Society Dec/2000

History of Origin

The Port Renfrew Health and Social Services Society (PRHSSS) was established in 1995. However, its grass-roots origins can be traced back, perhaps an additional five years. In this time frame an Economic Development Committee generated a fact finding committee which produced a report that directly resulted in: an ambulance station and out-of-town crew; home support nursing services and an outreach Counsellor. From there it continued as a committee responding to community health needs.

On September 29, 1999 a brand new Board of Directors was voted in. At the first meeting it was discovered that over spending in the previous year had left a deficit of approximately $13,000. In order to salage the PRHSSS and bring in a new budget, a program, for the fall, was supported by voluntary labour from the community and the board. These volunteers planned activities, made innumerable trips for supplies and managed portions of the program. It should be stressed that these are all normally remunerated duties. The PRHSSS thanks all of those who volunteered. A great amount of time and effort was required by the new board to learn their responsibilities, correct the deficit, maintain and create new programs.

In September 2000 an Annual General Meeting saw another Board of Directors voted in. Astonishingly, it was very nearly the same Board that served in 1999.

The PRHSSS administers a number of programs and activities including: Kids at Risk; Peer Helper; Emergency Services Cadets; Emergency Social Services and Ladies Night.

Kid's at Risk

This program is funded by the Ministry for Children and Families via School District #62. The children prefer to call it by the name they gave it, Stay-around, Play-around. The number of children participating in this program varies from day to day. After-school snacks are provided, as well, as crafts, games and playtime.

The PRHSSS wishes to acknowledge the many hours of volunteer work contributed by Angie Wiebe to this program. She is now an employee of the PRHSSS. Along with program co-ordinator, Bruce Comaniuk, they work wonderfully with the children. Bruce submits the following article.

Update and Outlook - The year in Review

Crafts were the main focus last winter through spring, with board games and table games; i.e. pool, shuffleboard, ping pong and even bowling, occupying kids between projects. Thursdays became popcorn and movie days. Occasionally, we had our after-school time in the gym playing games.

Summer events centered around swimming and camping. Both, big happenings for the kids of all ages. Youth With a Mission was very supportive of our efforts, as was Pacheedaht youth-worker Delsey Jones. On several outings we were able to use the Pacheedaht van.

With school starting in September and the recreation centre temporarily out of commission until December, our place became the gym, where games using gym equipment were our focus. Because a shortage of older kids exists in the school this year, kids normally too young to be accepted into our program have been allowed to participate. Age 7 and older was the norm, now we have 5 and 6 year olds in our program.

The year ahead

Researching appropriate crafts and games is a current focus as we prepare for the year ahead. Kids of different ages have different wants and requirements. Not all kids are arts and craftsy. Some like acting, so thoughts of performing a play and creating backdrops and a stage set would be challenging fun. Expanding creative potential is an on-going goal. We have experimented with papier mache, etching glass, dough and clay art.

Natural art; driftwood, shells, rocks and recycled art stuffs with minimal costs for embellishments will be a main focus. Perhaps, somewhere along the line, some items may be found to be marketable, giving the program a financial boost affording us other pursuits.


Peer-Helper is a caring person who is trained to listen to problems that may crop up in life and to try and achieve a resolution, as well as providing a path to professional help if required. Peer-Helper training began in November 1999 with a dedicated group of volunteers giving freely of their time to participate in this training program. This program is funded by the Ministry of Health via the Capital Health Region. Peer-Helper training resumed on December 6, 2000.

Emergency Services Cadets

We began in June and we're still going strong! In case you've wondered about those kids goose-stepping and exercising in the park, they are cadets in training for a brand new program started right here in Port Renfrew.

Any child, ages 9-19 may join the cadets. Cadets participate in preliminary training for Fire, Police, Ambulance and Search and Rescue. Most of our training has been delivered by the crew of Station 115, BC Ambulance, with a lot of help from the community and the moms and dads of the cadets. These children are expected to learn self-discipline, self-sufficiency and a variety of life-skills. They are required to observe attendance requirements and a code of behavior which reflects honesty, honour and respect for others; special emphasis is placed upon leadership skills.

Does it sound like any kid you know? The ES Cadet, Company 1, Port Renfrew might convince you otherwise. Please take the opportunity to drop in on Tuesdays, 6:00pm - 8:00pm and check us out. Can you tie a Presque knot or spell and define automatic external defibrillator?

With very little funding for our first year, we managed a big trip to Victoria to the BC Ambulance Dispatch Centre, BCAS Region 1 Administration and the Sooke Fire Hall. The cadets were warmly received and did their CO proud by bringing the house down every time with their excellent deportment and group salute. A great deal of support from ambulance and fire resulted from this visit and we hope to make more soon.

The cadets also took a ten-mile hike, on the Juan de Fuca Trail, as training for outdoor survival exercises next year. We ran out of funding at the end of the summer and are now doing our own fund-raising with bake and book sales, flea markets and craft sales. As usual, Port Renfrew has been pouring support to us in the form of donations of cash, books and yummy baked goods. Parents and friends of the cadets have been wonderfully supportive, providing tools, supplies and chaperonage, not to mention the snacks! Thank you everyone!

Emergency Social Services

The Port Renfrew ESS Team has made quite a lot of progress this year. We have five members in training and hope to add at least five more in January, 2001. ESS provides the basic support of food and lodging in the event of an emergency, large or small.

Margot Williams and Ann Del Farrish went to the Justice Institute for a week in October, to take the ESS Directors course. It was a very dynamic and empowering course and it was pretty exciting to become part of a n innovative and international approach to emergency management. BC is a world leader in the development of emergency social services management and the Justice Institute is now training internationally. It was very interesting to see an Italian delegation, complete with translators in tow, receiving training. A trip was made to the new Emergency Communications Centre, state-of-the-art and now in operation. BC is also a leader in earthquake-proof building technology. A visit was paid to the University of BC's earthquake lab, where class members were invited to experience a simulated 8.0 Richter scale shake. Margot and Ann Del are now designated co-directors of the Port Renfrew ESS program. They were appointed by and are responsible to the Regional Director, Ken Greenwood, in Sooke. Ken has done an excellent job in facilitating training and direction for our community and we are grateful for his continuing support.

Val Daigle will be taking training for Reception Centre Management in January. Carlson and Vicki Charlie will continue their support and management training in the new year. We hope that many others will join us in helping to make our community as prepared as we can. We all know that should disaster strike, we will be on our own for a significant amount of time. Please join our team and make a difference. Training resumes in January. Please, for the love of life, phone Margot at 250-647-5596 or Ann Del at 250-647-5477 or 647-5551 and sign up today!

In the next issue: More about the BC Emergency Management System and our hopes for Port Renfrew.

Ladies Night

Ladies night at the recreation centre is on Monday nights. The doors open at 7:00pm. Cost is $2.00 per session to cover the costs of printing and mailing out advertising, coffee et cetera. Each week, the ladies demonstrate and participate in craft works. They decide what they would like to do the following week and who will be the demonstrator.


Bus Rental vehicles are very expensive and were affordable only on a limited basis. As a result of this, transporting passengers for outings such as camping and skating were rather restrictive. At the March, 2000 Service Providers meeting a consensus was reached that a bus was needed. Betty Wiesselmann volunteered to try and obtain a bus. Betty learned from the Variety Club that the PRHSSS would have to raise half the cost of the bus, approximately $15,000. She secured a $10,000 grant from the Capital Health Region. Port Renfrew representative to SEAPARC, Bruce Comaniuk, secured the additional $5,000 from the recreation budget of SEAPARC.

Sounds simple to get a brand new bus. Except this was not a simple matter of a couple of telephone calls. Some time later, after approving the application, the Variety Club informed Betty the cost was now $17,250. She told them that it might be difficult but we would try. Bruce went back to SEAPARC with another request, while Caroline and a couple of kids went to local businesses in hopes of aid. The local campaign raised only $20.00. Bruce's request brought an extra $2,500.

Meanwhile, the Sunshine Coach program realized our difficulties and the initial agreement, so they graced us with the bus. The PRHSSS is very grateful for Betty and Bruce. Their tenacious pursuit of that bus has made us very proud to have them as volunteer and employee.

The PRHSSS is pleased to announce it will be delivering its new bus December 16, 2000 from the Variety Club Sunshine Bus program. This bus will be used to transport children for various programs that may now be realistically expanded.


A favorite word occurring frequently throughout this newsletter is:

Voluntary (1) acting, or given etc. of one's own free will and not under any compulsion. (2) working or done without payment; voluntary work. (3) (of an organization) maintained by voluntary contributions or voluntary workers...

It seems as though present-day society has a problem with public participation in civic activities. One reason may be the extra entertainment and diversion provided by the electronic medium in relation to past-day society. It is much easier to spend one's time on that. Carefree.

Paradoxically, it seems, not one member of the PRHSSS has a child benefiting from any of its programs. Yet, the voluntary work continues. The programs continue. A bus has been obtained for the specific purpose of transporting children for PRHSSS events.

A popular misconception within the community is that programs and events for the younger children are the equivilant of a free day-care or baby-sitting service. It has always been the expectation of the PRHSSS and its program funders that people, particularly parents, would volunteer to assist with the programs and events.

Misconceptions are not exclusive to the younger children's program. Unfortunately, teen-nights and events had to be cancelled. The PRHSSS receives no funding for teen programs. It seems that all the teens are interested in doing were activities that cost money. Yet, they were not interested in raising money to fund their activities. For example, a proposed ski-trip to Mount Washington was cancelled. No money equals no trip.

Fortunately, for the teens, the PRHSSS will be assuming the duties associated with the Community Access program. Funding for the four computers situated in the school runs out at the end of the year. Beginning in 2001, they will be situated in the recreation centre. This is an activity the teens enjoy. It costs money, but not through the PRHSSS. The PRHSSS is optimistic that this, together with the new bus and the new year will inspire the teens.

A vibrant civic society is a precondition for having markets develop and operate in the way that they should. - Adam Smith, eighteenth-century economist.

Studies (another of our favourite words) by anthropologists and sociologists confirm that citizens who belong to civic organizations have a tendency to be happier, healthier and wealthier than those who do not. What makes the difference is that these voluntary organizations transcend any boundaries or barriers, whether they be religious or cultural, ethnic or economic, actual or imaginary. These organizations could be sports groups, art groups, church groups, any group that is not of the government or marketing sectors.

Moreover, within a region, there is a very powerful correlation between the membership of its citizens in these organizations and the successful effectiveness of its local government. Conversely, there is a negative correlation. With fewer people publicly participating, less will be accomplished by the local government to benefit the community. Its citizens will be less happy, less healthy and less wealthy. These voluntary organizations, often referred to as the Third Sector, act as watch dogs to the watch dogs to the hierarchy levels of the government and marketing sectors.

In September of 1999, our service providers came for a meeting in Port Renfrew. The PRHSSS, with a $13,000 deficit, was on the verge of vanishing. An appeal for support went out to the community. An unprecedented number of people showed up for the meeting. The service providers were impressed. We received more funding. A demonstration of the fact, that when people feel that something is important to them they will get on with what needs to be done.

The Port Renfrew Health and Social Services Society wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2001 New Year.

Forming the Board of the Port Renfrew Health and Social Services Society are the following:

President-Geneva Shen; Vice-President-Betty Wiesselman; Treasurer-Caroline Griese; Secretary-Jessica Pallin.

Active members at Large; Ann Del Farrish, Colleen Peters, bill Jones, Horst Pempel, Jerry Matkin.


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