Funding will enable organizations to get new advocacy and outreach training
Julie Bertrand, Alberni Valley Times
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Five local agencies learned last December that they were getting a $123,600 Community Action Initiative training innovation grant for an outreach and advocacy project.
They were the Port Alberni Shelter Society, the Port Alberni Friendship Center, the Port Alberni Association for Community Living, the Vancouver Island Health Authority Adult Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Port Alberni branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. The groups will collaborate on a training program that will focus on collectively improving their community outreach and advocacy skills, while providing increased opportunity for collaboration among all service providers.
North Island College will partner with the agencies to plan the curriculum and deliver the learning. The Port Alberni Shelter Society will take the lead role in the project, meaning it will administer the funding. "We're the glue that ties everybody together," said Wes Hewitt, PASS director. He added the agencies decided to apply for the grant when they saw it had to do with mental health and addiction. "It's a very strong area for us," Hewitt said.
The training will enable outreach workers and advocates to make connections with other agencies, to work on a positive level with clients and to move them along the continuous changes.
"We are working with the clients so they can access what they need to access," Hewitt said. For example, case managers at the shelter will work with clients and connect them with VIHA Adult Mental Health and Addiction so that they might get treatments.
Then, VIHA will send clients who need housing to the shelter. "We have a really good group of agencies and groups that work together," Hewitt said. "This is just taking that and moving it to the next level."
Training will be split into eight modules of 12 hours. Participants will receive three hours of face-to-face training per module, while the remaining nine hours will be conducted by distance, using computer technology. Hewitt said it will take six months to develop and deliver the training.
Although workers from the five agencies will form the basic class enrollment, partners from other local agencies will be invited to get the training. Port Alberni North Island College campus principal Tom Weegar is very excited about the training project. "We're excited to work with the agencies and to do the training," he said. In fact, NIC is looking into making the training program a permanent course offering. "Hopefully, when we get the program developed and in place, it can be something that we can offer on a regular basis," Weegar said.
The grant is a feather in the cap of the five agencies, as their project was only one of 13 chosen in the province. In total, the Communication Action Initiative leadership council received 130 applications. "They narrowed it down to 29 at the second stage, and then 13 were funded," Hewitt said. The Community Action Initiative is funded through a $10 million grant from the B.C. government.
JBertrand@avtimes.netTraining Website is at http://improvingoutcomes.weebly.com/
By Wawmeesh G. Hamilton - Alberni Valley News
Published: January 31, 2013 5:00 PM
Updated: January 31, 2013 5:58 PM
The Society overseeing construction of a new shelter on Eighth Avenue is reaching out to neighbours who are opposed to the plan by drafting a “good neighbour” agreement. It is just one step in moving forward to making the shelter a reality, Port Alberni Shelter Society spokesperson Myron Jespersen told city councillors last week.
The society commissioned geotechnical and environmental surveys, both of which find that the Eighth Avenue location is suitable for a new shelter, Jespersen said. As well, meetings are scheduled with the project architect, Victoria’s Jensen Group, who will work on concepts that will shape a schematic design and site plan. The documents will be used in subsequent community consultation sessions, which Jespersen estimates will get off the ground in four to five weeks, he said. Afterward, a final agreement and design will be crafted and used as components of a package that will be sent to potential funders such as BC Housing, whom they’ve had cursory discussions with, Jespersen said.
The shelter will cost about $8 million to build. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he said. A key part of the project is crafting and completing a “good neighbour” agreement, something Jespersen just started working on. Jespersen said he’s already talked to some neighbours, and is willing to work with anyone who wants to participate in creating a rough draft of the document that can be refined through further public consultation, he said.
The process isn’t new: “It was done with other projects, like the Roger Street apartments,” he said. The shelter society has had access to the land, which Vancouver Island Health Authority owns, for planning purposes but there is more work to be done before the health authority gives final approval, VIHA spokesperson Val Wilson said. “We have not yet approved a long-term agreement to provide the site to the society, and the agreement would require VIHA board and Ministry of Health approval,” Wilson said.
However, the society has a memorandum of understanding with VIHA, Jespersen said. “It basically approves of our intention to build a new shelter on the land and commits to proceeding toward a final agreement,” Jespersen said. “The MOU is what triggered us to proceed with the plan.” While Jespersen said progress is being made with neighbouring residents, some feel the shelter still overshadows their concerns. “No one considers what the people in our neighbourhood have to deal with,” said Lesley Silverstone, whose Eighth Avenue house will face the front door of the proposed shelter. More than 150 residents have outlined concerns dealing with drug use and selling, theft and property invasion which stems from some shelter residents, Silverstone said.
Also a concern to residents is the number of social services wedged into the area. “There’s the Salvation Army, several group homes, Service BC, seniors facilities and an elementary school loaded into the area,” Silverstone said. “No place else in the city carries that kind of load. ”Silverstone has raised her concerns with VIHA and with city officials and intends to keep the heat on them by sending letters of concern about the development from more than 150 residents. “We’re asking them to reconsider their decision,” she said after making a presentation to council on Monday (Jan. 28).
Residents may have little recourse and a new shelter may be a forgone conclusion, City Manager Ken Watson said in December. The land the shelter wants for a new facility is owned by VIHA, not the city., Watson said. The site is already properly zoned, therefore no public process is required.
City councillors already approved the plan shelter officials brought to them. All that remains is a building permit application, Watson said. Coun. Cindy Solda gave a notice of motion to have the city facilitate a meeting between the society and the neighbourhood residents. firstname.lastname@example.org
Keri Sculland, Alberni Valley Times Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Cold weather is on the way, and while many people are bundling up for the winter season ahead, some might not be able to. Each year, members of the community need a little extra help around this time of year to keep warm.
Businesses and individuals have been very generous in donating jackets, mitts and warm clothing each year, Port Alberni Shelter Society administrator Wes Hewitt said. When the weather gets cold, Hewitt and staff at the shelter notice an influx of visitors searching for a warm bed. "It has been a strong year all year round, but yes, we will see a little more of an increase here," Hewitt said.
On Nov. 1, B.C. Housing will release funding for "extreme weather beds," which means the number of people able to stay at the local shelter will increase. The new number accommodates the influx of visitors expected, and lasts until March. If weather continues to be extremely cold or miserable after March, B.C. Housing will adjust the funding to ensure people are kept under a roof with a warm bed.
"It is not a line in the sand. It is based on needs," Hewitt said. An Extreme Weather Response program funds community-based services to provide temporary emergency shelter spaces. RCMP is given the legal capacity to assist individuals in finding housing during extreme weather as well, Hewitt explained.
"B.C. Housing, what they do is they fund a whole program that expands capacity of beds in the province to deal with increased demand in the winter time," Hewitt said. "The last thing B.C. Housing wants to see, or we want to see, or anyone in the community wants to see, is someone losing their life or in distress in bad weather."
Although the number of people going into the shelter has been steady all year, Hewitt said the summer time is easier for people to fare when they are homeless because of the warmth. "In the summer time, it's a little bit easier, but in the winter time, it gets cold and wet here," he said.
Each year, Hewitt and the shelter experiences an outpouring of support from people in Port Alberni. Businesses and individuals pull together to provide clothing, warmth and comfort for less fortunate citizens during the winter months. Every year, the shelter staff and volunteers hope to gather enough winter jackets, mitts, socks, underwear and toiletries to support the people staying there.
The Port Alberni Shelter would like to express our sincere appreciation for the generosity and support from the Port Alberni community and local businesses over Thanksgiving. We received much more than we expected and the generous donations from the community have allowed us to serve a munificent Thanksgiving Dinner and the extra turkeys and hams will allow us to continue to feed our patrons. Your assistance means so much to our clients but even more to the Port Alberni Shelter Society as it helps us care for our clients. Your commitment to fighting homelessness in our community is sincerely appreciated.
Each year The Port Alberni Shelter Society continues to advance its mission to house the homeless. Through our Emergency Shelter, Supportive Housing, and Community Support Programs we have seen many lives changed for the better. And by working with organizations such as BC Housing, Mental Health and Addictions, VIHA, and the Canadian Mental Health Associations we can work to provide the support needed by individuals to lead a more productive life. People are a powerful force in their communities and when they have opportunities to improve their lives, the whole community benefits.
The goal of the Port Alberni Shelter Society is to continue to make a difference in the lives of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. With the help of donations from community businesses and individuals, we will continue to see improvements in our community.Thank you from all of us.
Some of our donors include:
Bill Randle and Family
House of Service
Patty Edwards & Scott Fraser
As well as many others who did not leave a name but left generous donations.
A special thanks to McDermotts Insurance & Butch Taylor, his family and Staff at Coleman Road Shingle for their donation of six turkeys each for our Thanksgiving offering. Butch stated "We feel fortunate this year to have maintained operations and provide steady work for our ten employees. Thanks to companies like Probyn Log and Western Forest Products who see the value in providing local logs so local mills are able to provide quality products to our customers. This is a small contribution to help those less fortunate this Thanksgiving.
Port Alberni Shelter Awarded Grant as Lead Agency in Community Action Initiative
“The Community Action Initiative Convening Grant for Training Innovation is pleased to formally convey that the application submitted by the Port Alberni Shelter as the Lead Agency and their partners” (NIC, VIHA, CMHA, Community Living and the Friendship Centre) “has been successful. The application was one of thirty-one selected among 125 submitted in response to our Call for Letters of Intent for Training Innovation.
The Community Action Initiative Leadership Council (LC) was pleased to see a proposal focused on improving advocacy and outreach in the community taking a pro-active approach for a client group with stronger predisposition for Mental Health & Substance Use challenges. The proposal was well-written; and the program appears to demonstrate true collaboration and partnership among organizations throughout entire region. Congratulations on this achievement!” From the CAI letter to the Port Alberni Shelter.
What is the Community Action Initiative?
*The Community Action Initiative (CAI) supports communities that identify and seek to address mental health and substance use concerns. The organization was launched by the BC Alliance for Mental Health/Illness and Addictions. The CAI provide grants to help community partners connect with each other and develop and implement action plan models that go beyond business as usual and better support individuals and families struggling with mental health and substance use issues
What is the Community Action Initiative? CAI was created to help address some of the most complex health issues facing families and communities in British Columbia. Some BC mental health and substance use facts:
In 2008, 23.1 per cent of British Columbians aged 15 or older reported hazardous consumption of alcohol
- One in five people in British Columbia will experience significant mental health/illness or substance use problems each year
- Direct and indirect cost of mental illness and substance use is estimated at over $6 billion for British Columbia annually
.The goal is that organizations will work together to:
- Establish shared objectives
- Share knowledge, resources and skills
- Collaborate on project planning and grant proposals
By Wawmeesh G. Hamilton - Alberni Valley News
The homeless issue in Port Alberni got a shot in the arm this week and more help could be on the way.
On Monday, the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District announced they were distributing $285,000 to five local agencies to help with the homelessness issue.
The Vancouver Island Health Authority underwrote the initiative with a one-time grant.
The ACRD engaged the Community Stakeholders Initiative to End Homelessness (CSI) to quarterback drawing up criterion and making recommendations about allocating the money.
At $95,500, the largest recipient of funds was the Port Alberni Shelter Society. The grant is to be used for pre-design services and a schematic design for a new facility.
The Alberni Valley Community Foundation received $85,000. The Port Alberni Friendship Centre was awarded $47,500 for a tenant advocacy project.
And $16,600 went to the West Coast Women’s Resource Society for a Homeless outreach enhancement project.
The groups are all members of the CSI, which is more of an ad-hoc group as opposed to a formally structured one.
Proposals were solicited by CSI in the spring and criteria included having an objective related to homelessness, a clear objective achievable in one year, and a broad impact.
The money may have been awarded to individual groups, but the impact will be wider.
“They have a broad reaching impact that benefits the Valley and the West Coast,” ACRD chief administrative officer Russell Dyson said.
“The benefits are anywhere from day-to-day needs like linen to an expanded facility to help alleviate homelessness.”
While only five groups have been awarded grants, everybody won, shelter director Wes Hewitt said. “We’re not rubbing our hands and saying “oh boy, we got it”,” he said. “We’re all members of CSI and we’re all dealing with the homelessness issue on a common front.”
The grant enables the shelter to take another step in its journey towards building a new facility. The existing facility has outgrown its current location on Eighth Avenue and the society would like to build a bigger place across the street.
Work on the schematic will start as soon as possible. The finished product will serve as a guide from which a hard dollar value can be extrapolated.
Despite the grant, the society faces the even tougher challenge of lobbying for building funds.
“The process can take four to five years,” Hewitt said.