Smoky River Family and Community Support Services is gearing up to make some big changes in 2024, trying to add some extra services to help residents who need it.

“We are always reassessing our programming to see what is working and what needs to be changed,” says FCSS director Crystal Tremblay.

“Currently, we are working on different grants that will allow us to provide some different opportunities for the region. One of which would be an edible tree garden in the municipalities that want the program, but this is dependent on the grant funding,” she adds.

Tremblay says they are trying to incorporate programs that will help all demographics in the community.

“We are also looking at the possibility of bringing a men’s shed to the region,” says Tremblay.

“It is hard to pin down how much in grant funding we are applying for. Each year, we apply for a variety of grants, not all are successful.”

Many of the programs FCSS offer are funded through their efforts to find grant money through both provincial and federal avenues.

“We currently are waiting to hear back from the New Horizon for Seniors grant to help our home support program, and the Rural Transit Solutions grant to help with the purchase of a new bus for the transportation program,” says Tremblay.

“There are a few others that we are working on with other community partners as well. We have a very limited budget for our programming, and we do a lot of programming with what we have. Grants help us improve and grow the programming.”

Tremblay says FCSS is currently concerned about the future of the home supports program. Because they cover such a vast area, it has become more expensive to offer the program and they are continually looking for extra funds, including donations from the public.

“With the home supports program, we need the funding as the need for this program exceeds our funding limits,” says Tremblay, explaining there are continually more people who need to use the program in the region.

“This program allows our seniors to remain in their homes longer, decreasing the costs associated with assisted living centres.”

The home supports program offers light housekeeping, companionship, and some meal prep for those who require additional assistance.

The FCSS staff and board’s efforts to seek funding is primarily to help fund programs that are currently offered and to also introduce new ones to the region.

Tremblay says that each FCSS has been given autonomy to provide programming that meets the needs of their area.

“This allows us to design our programming to meet the needs of our region,” she says. “In our office we run all our own programs in house, as well as provide supports to our residents such as help filling out forms, contacting agencies, and other supports as needed. We keep up to date on the programs that assist in times of need.”

Smoky River FCSS offers programs like Fresh Food Basket, which serves as a way for community members to contribute extra garden produce to individuals who require them.

“We also support our residents with programs such as the income tax program that allows low-income residents to have their simple taxes prepared for free,” she says.

“We work closely with our municipalities and local businesses to provide the transportation program, food bank, Christmas voucher, Coats for Kids, Tools for Schools, and many other programs that assist families and individuals in our community.”

Donations from the public are accepted at the Town of Falher office, and interested donors can request the funds to go directly to their program of interest. Tremblay says these donations are incredibly helpful in an economic climate where people increasingly need help. Last year, the FCSS programs and office were accessed 6,683 times.

“We encourage people to reach out and let us know what they see as a need in the community,” says Tremblay. “Currently, FCSS is working with community members to open the Smoky River Regional Food Bank, this will allow our region to have their say in how the food bank operates. We are working hard to expand our transportation services, so that our resident has access to their basic needs for a reasonable cost.”

She adds the local FCSS is also working with Heart River Housing, Smoky River Adult Learning, Smoky River Regional Economic Development, Smoky River Chamber of Commerce, local libraries, the Children’s Resource Council, and many other agencies to provide the best possible services in the Smoky River Region.

If you would like to learn more about the programming, or are interested in donating to one of the programs, please call the FCSS office at (780) 837-2220.

By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 28, 2023 at 15:20

This item reprinted with permission from   South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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