Retiring CTRA Executive Director Anne Muir with Tonka. (submitted)

Cowichan Coffee Time: New faces, saying goodbye, and saying thanks

• Cowichan Women Against Violence Society is saying farewell to their executive director and welcoming a new one.

On Nov. 14 they will be welcoming Debbie Berg, who is taking over the reins from Jane Sterk.

Berg has an extensive background in counselling, housing management, quality improvement, addictions services, program development and human resources.

Berg says she’s excited to be part of a program that “works with preventative models of care along with support for women, youth and children who have faced violent or traumatic events.”

“CWAV Society has benefited tremendously from outgoing executive director Jane Sterk’s stewardship over the past five years,” says Board Chair Anne Hilker. “We are fortunate to serve an expanded scope of the community, we enjoy deeper relationships with community partners, and we now have a permanent building to house many of our services. We are confident that Debbie Berg will be able to build on the strong foundations Jane leaves behind.”

Annually CWAV Society provides refuge in the transition house for 150 women and children, fields over 500 crisis calls, and assists more than 3,000 women faced with family and sexualized violence. Individual and group counselling to more than 100 children a year is also provided along with outreach programs on healthy relationships and personal safety that involve over 600 youth. The Society offers pre-employment skills for up to 100 women who experience barriers to obtaining employment and helps women navigate the court system through community victim services. A new CWAV project offers counselling for men committed to changing their relationship with violence through the well-received Men Choose Respect group.

“Debbie Berg comes to the Cowichan Valley at a time when the community is asking for leadership around issues of increasing safety for all women, reducing risks of homelessness, and forwarding reconciliation of non-Indigenous communities with their Indigenous friends, families, and neighbours,” reflects Hilker. “Debbie’s willingness and ease at engaging with a variety of people, community partners and funders opens doors and brings fresh options. It is exciting to look towards new connections and opportunities.”

CWAV Society’s next event is the Dec. 6 Vigil from 5:30-7 p.m., meeting at Sands Funeral Chapel, 187 Trunk Rd., Duncan. This event is to honour missing and murdered women in Canada. Candles are provided along with hot beverages and snacks at reception after the walk.

• The gardeners at Jubilee Community Gardens are giving a whole bunch of shoutouts to those who have helped them along the way this year:

“I hope you have had the opportunity this year to enjoy the Jubilee Community Gardens at Centennial Park. Forty dedicated gardeners have tended their plots for your visual enjoyment, and several communal gardens to donate to the needy. We were able to give 107 bags of fresh produce to the food bank, the women’s shelter, and cancer patients.

“As the gardeners are mainly seniors we have had a lot of help from the community. The City of Duncan has given us the opportunity to beautify a tiny part of Duncan plus Leanne and her landscaping crew have helped whenever possible.

“Peter at Innisvale Blueberry Farm, B. Dinter Nursery, Providence Farms, Country Grocer, 49 Parallel Grocers, and Buckerfields donated plants.

“Len Bridgen, Orion Robinson, Chris Pyatt, Matt Canute, Forty Oaks Tree Service, Queen Margaret’s School staff and students, Vitals, Cowichan Seniors Community Foundation, and Hiiye’yu Lelum Society donated their time, energy, and knowledge.

“Rex at Cowichan Rentals, Copycat Printing, Home Hardware, Coast Environmental, Serious Coffee, Mill Bay Masonry, Windsor Plywood, Gord at Integral Hockey, Doug at WeeChip Cowichan, Over the Moon Coffee, Mike Marshall, Doreen and Dave Gray, Inge Morris, and Lenard Lachance donated service and supplies.

“This is a garden powered by the community and we the gardeners at Jubilee Community Garden Society would like to sincerely thank the above list for their generosity. Boy do we appreciate it!”

• The Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association announced in their fall Leading Rein newsletter that Executive Director Anne Muir will be retiring in January.

Janet Barclay, chair of the CTRA board of directors writes:

“I have been very fortunate, as a member of the Board of Directors of CTRA, to observe and appreciate her direction. I am very sorry to see her leave, as are those who have received this news.

“Anne has been at the helm for over five years and has successfully steered CTRA in the direction of stability and respect. She has been in charge of the maintenance and improvement of our century-old facility and in the direction of the management of its hundreds of occupants, which include staff, participants, volunteers and horses. With charm and cool confidence, along with a terrific sense of humour, she has ensured that our strategic planning goals have been achieved (consider the successful Jane James Used Tack Shop and its mobile Coastal Tack Shack as examples). As CTRA’s chief ambassador, Anne has kept our many community connections alive and active, recently giving a presentation to the local 100 Women Who Care organization that resulted in a wonderful financial gift to CTRA.

“We will miss Anne and her positive energy, however I am hoping not for long, as I believe she is considering a return to CTRA as a volunteer in the not too distant future — good news.”

• The Rotary Club of South Cowichan (Mill Bay) and the Mill Bay Marine Search and Rescue are thanking everyone who came and contributed to their Casino Night on Nov. 2.

“This year’s event was one of our first jointly organized events,” they said, and the total funds raised were approximately $6,000 for each of the organizations. “Thanks to your support and the support of our community.”

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Debbie Berg is the new executive director at CWAV. (submitted)

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