For 150 years, the Cridge Centre for the Family has been supporting people in need in Greater Victoria and on Saturday (Sept. 16) more than 1,000 people who have received that support were invited to mark the occasion.
The centre’s grounds were filled with inflatable bounce castles and obstacle courses for the kids, information booths on the centre’s many services were displayed, live music kept everyone entertained, and food vendors made sure everyone had a full stomach.
“We’ve actually been celebrating all year long with smaller events and publicity, but today is our big party,” said Joanne Linka, manager of communication and fund development at the centre. “We’ve invited all of our clients, our staff, our board members. Basically, anybody who has had a role to play in the Cridge in some way.”
Part of those 150th celebrations included removing the centre’s historic building’s cornerstone and revealing the contents of a time capsule sealed within in 1893.
Among the artifacts found inside and now on display were newspapers from the time a copy of the New Testament, and what is believed to be John George Taylor’s original will bequeathing his estate to be used as an orphanage, which evolved into the modern centre.
For the first 60 years of its history, the centre was an orphanage for vulnerable children. Since the 1970s, it has grown into a multi-service non-profit organization and currently serves around 2,000 individuals each year.
“We have childcare, seniors housing, brain injury support and housing, we have a young parent outreach program that supports families with a disability, a transition house for women leaving abusive relationships, and housing for those same women and for newcomers,” Linka said.
Over the years, Linka noted the centre has realized the benefits of offering so many different services under one umbrella. A recent example she pointed to is the realization many of the women leaving abusive relationships the centre supported also suffered brain injuries from those relationships.
Since the centre offered support for both needs, it was able to quickly combine them and improve their overall service capability.
“In the 1960s the philosophy of care for vulnerable children changed from orphanages where children were removed from their families to trying to keep children in their families and supporting the families as a whole. That was the first big change,” said Linka. “Once that happened, we really started to be an organization that steps into the needs of the community. When a need arises in a part of our community that lacks support, we try to step up and meet it.”
Linka said with the centre always looking for more ways to support the community, it is always important for the community to support the centre as well. A large portion of funding for the centre is provided by government contracts, but grants and donations are critical for allowing it to continue its work.
More information about the centre’s services, and about how people can support it, is available at cridge.org.