In October of 2005 the West Shore Child, Youth and Family Centre was born.
Built with funds from the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, the multi-use facility in Colwood is home to key support programming for children and families living on the West Shore. Its partners include the Pacific Centre Family Services Association, the Ministry of Children and Family Development the Boys and Girls Club and others.
“Our goal (then) was to create a centre servicing kids all together,” said foundation CEO Linda Hughes, “so a family could come to one place to see different professionals, or have their needs met in a well-planned, welcoming place. I’ve heard it (has become) a real hub.”
The foundation was looking to invest in a growing child and family focused community, Hughes said, when it chose to invest $7.5 million in a 38,000-square-foot facility a decade ago. Funds were raised by community partners, individuals and businesses. They charge virtually no rent to tenants – Pacific Centre Family Services pays just a dollar a year.
“It has made a real difference to be able to offer quality service in a quality environment,” said the association’s executive director, Mitzi Dean. “It’s important to have consistency of space as well. They make it affordable for agencies whatever (their) size. They have increased our capacity, and the more resources we have to staff, the more we can offer to community.”
All the centre’s partners invite the public to join them Sept. 21 for a celebration of a decade of helping West Shore families. The organizations, which collectively employ 125 staff, will each contribute to the event. There will be a free barbecue lunch, face painting, a children’s dance group and other entertainment for the whole family.
“Really it’s a celebration … Hopefully families who have occasion to go there will join us (alongside) people who have donated. It is going to be a really fun family- and child-friendly event,” Hughes said. “I can’t believe it has been 10 years and it was time to reflect on that.”
The event runs from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 345 Wale Rd. For more information, visit childrenshealthvi.org.