By Lissa Alexander
One of Society of Organized Services’ three founding members, Edith Chamberlayne, has died at the age of 96.
“Edith was a compassionate, community-minded and determined woman, and if it wasn’t for her, we certainly wouldn’t be here today,” said SOS executive director Susanna Newton.
It was at Chamberlayne’s kitchen table in the spring of 1968 that the conversation to create SOS first began.
In SOS’s 50th Anniversary Book, Celebrating a Caring Community, she explained why she wanted to start a grassroots charity in the area.
“In 1968, I was the elementary school counsellor and I could see this tremendous need,” she said. “There were lots of kids who were going to school without breakfast, and I knew we had to get something in the community that would help to look after these vulnerable children.”
Chamberlayne, Pauline Touzeau and Betty Marocchi rallied their friends and neighbours, bringing the community together to volunteer, donate and help residents in need.
Thanks to Chamberlayne’s kindness and fortitude, SOS now serves thousands of residents every year, meeting needs and enriching lives through programming, while also providing a social safety net for all community members.
At 92 years old, Edith attended all of SOS’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations in 2018. At the Parksville Summer Celebration, she spoke highly of the organization that she worked tirelessly to help create.
“I am so proud of SOS and all it has accomplished in the past 50 years. SOS was always ready to extend a helping hand to so many families and persons who needed us, whether it be with groceries, emergency cash, or a shoulder to cry on. I can’t tell you how proud I am, and I know that if Pauline Touzeau was still with us, she would be proud too. So, here’s to the next 50 years!”
Heartfelt comments on SOS’s social media pages have poured in since the announcement, like this one from SOS volunteer Jackie Zavaglia.
“This article really brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Edith and the other wonderful ladies who were the founding members of SOS. Today, your dream is still helping the community in many ways. The SOS has given me a purpose in life now that my children have grown and that I’m retired. I love volunteering at the thrift store. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Newton said Chamberlayne will be greatly missed.
“Edith’s legacy and generous spirit will live on at SOS and continue to make a profound impact in our communities,” said Newton.
Celebrating a Caring Community, the story of how SOS began and how it has evolved over the years, can be purchased at SOS Thrift Shop, with proceeds supporting SOS programs and services.