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Celebrating a half century of service

Barrhead and District FCSS looking at ways to continue to serve the community as well as celebrate an important milestone during coronavirus pandemic
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Dewsnap-50th anniversary
Barrhead and District FCSS executive director Shelley Dewsnap said over the next few months the not-for-profit organization plans to hold numberous small events to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

BARRHEAD-Barrhead and District Family Community Support Services (FCSS) has reached a milestone.
For the last 50 years, the not-for-profit society has been helping residents of Barrhead. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions brought about due to the coronavirus, they have to curtail their celebrations.

"It is not exactly what we planned when we started thinking about what we might do to celebrate," said executive director Shelly Dewsnap, about the reserved celebrations FCSS will be holding over the next few months. "But it is something worth celebrating. This organization has been helping residents in this community and surrounding area for half-a-century and we look forward to continuing to serve the people in the region for many more years."

As part of its initial celebrations FCSS is giving out 150 mini-garden kits. Fifty of the kits are reserved for Town of Barrhead residents, 50 for County of Barrhead residents and another 50 for people with young children.

“We were looking for a way that we offer our programs to the community during COVID-19 when we came up with the idea of the grow-garden kits, which not only is a way to honour the legacy of FCSS but helps promote food security,” she said, noting the kits wouldn’t have been possible without the help of De Derhert Garden.

Dewsnap, who has been executive director since 2015, said FCSS' longevity is also a testament that the model used in Barrhead works.
Barrhead's FCSS is somewhat unique in the province, she said, in that it is a standalone not-for-profit organization.

The vast majority of FCSS organizations are run under the umbrella of a municipality and as a result, they have more restrictions on the way they distribute their services.

Barrhead, like all FCSS organizations, receive funding through provincial and municipal government grants in an 80-20 per cent split, with the province being responsible for the larger portion.

This funding can only be used for programs of a preventative nature, but since Barrhead is a separate not-for-profit entity, and receives additional funding through its fundraising efforts, it gives them more latitude in programming.

From her understanding, Dewsnap said most municipally run FCSS don't necessarily run programming directly, but give grants to individuals and community groups.

"We chose to do direct service other than granting out money to other organizations we find it a better fit for the community to provide services ourselves,” she said.

Programs offered by Barrhead’s FCSS through municipal and provincial funding include referral counselling, community advocacy and support, community development and volunteer coordination, the family school-liaison program (run in partnership with Pembina Hills School Division), seniors in-home housekeeping as well as an after school youth program.

This extensive list doesn’t include the long-list of community programs area residents have come to depend on such as the food bank, Santa’s Toy Box and Christmas hampers, Thrive (a family violence prevention program), Meals on Wheels and its most recent addition the Family Connections Centre, which replaces the community’s Parent Link Centre.

“We are really proud of the longevity of FCSS and it would have been possible without the partnership of the Barrhead municipalities and the province,” Dewsnap said. “But equally important is the support we receive from the community. Without it FCSS and the programming it provides would be very different.”

Barry Kerton, TownandCountryToday.com

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