The Cowichan Lake Community Service Society has seen a lot of changes since it first began offering services from an old liquor store in the community in 1972.
Currently, the non-profit organization with the mandate to provide social and economic development programs operates from its large building on Point Ideal Road which the society fundraised more than $600,000 to build in 1997.
The society’s offerings increased over the years to include the dozens of programs it currently runs.
They include counselling, and support programs; social development programs; therapeutic recreation programs; child and youth counselling; sexual abuse intervention; family court counselling; and a multitude of therapeutic recreation programs that are aimed at the entire population of the area.
It also provides Christmas hampers to the less advantaged in the community, a Red Cross loan service for wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and other medical gear, and even a WorkBC Employment Services Centre on site where the unemployed and underemployed can register with WorkBC for case management.
As well, the society has a contract with BC Transit to provide transport services to Youbou and Honeymoon Bay, a “fun” community bus for other organizations and societies to rent for their needs, a commercial community kitchen, and holds after school drop-in services for children.
There is even a monthly Good Food Box program where $10 gets the buyer a large bag of produce.
“All the programs and services we provide are designed to raise the health of people and families in the region,” said Amanda Sawatzky, a family therapist who has been with CLCS for 27 years.
“In the beginning, we just had children’s programs, Meals on Wheels and some other programs. Now hundreds of people use all the services we provide here. Sometimes, we have three different generations from the same family on site in different programs at the same time. These programs and services are vital in the community.”
The services of the society, which is overseen by a locally elected board of directors, are funded by a variety of federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as fundraising, the United Way, fees for service, facility rental, entrepreneurship, and memberships.