Parksville’s Society of Organized Services was honored for service to the community last week at a special ceremony in Toronto where it received the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award. The award, in the Social Innovator category, was accepted by SOS board chair Cory McIntosh, with executive director Renate Sutherland also in attendance.
Dr. James Lunney, MP for Nanaimo-Alberni, was also in Toronto for the ceremony.
“SOS has been meeting needs in the Oceanside Area for more than 45 years; it’s a hub of activity concentrating volunteer energies into community impact on behalf of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Lunney.
With more than 350 volunteers, SOS contributes to more than 30 programs such as Meals on Wheels, Medical Appointment Transportation Service, help with Income Tax returns, After School Education Assistance, Recreation Assistance for Children and Youth and Caring for Kids at Christmas. SOS provides a Safe Cars for Kids program to offer safety-related vehicle repairs to low-income individuals. It is also the regional coordinator for the Extreme Weather Centre and co-chaired the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness. They provide personal growth programs to men, women and couples, counselling referrals, self-help groups, and hardship emergency support and referral.
Volunteers are also trained to staff the Haven House hotline. Recently, the SOS partnered with Haven House in a $200,000 campaign to open a transition house in Oceanside. The house serves women and their children from Nanoose Bay to Bowser. In partnership with United Way and the provincial government, a new program called “Better at Home” has been added, which assists seniors with non-medical services such as grocery shopping, light housekeeping and snow removal, while giving seniors the freedom to stay in their own homes.
The SOS Thrift Shop, supported generously by thousands of area residents, is staffed by volunteers and generates income combined with donations from individuals, businesses, service clubs and fundraising activities.
“Volunteers are the heart of every successful community. SOS has grown into a model of success that is impacting other communities on, and beyond, Vancouver Island. This is a collaborative effort we can all support and be proud of,” said Lunney.
— NEWS Staff/Office of MP James Lunney