All of us at Desert Sun Counselling and Resource Centre would like to thank you for your support in the last year and we would like to share some of the highlights of our year at Desert Sun with you!
We are happy to have a brand new strategic plan that will serve as our road map and guide the work that we do for the next 5 years.
Our Counselling programs are very busy and to alleviate the waitlist for our women’s counselling program we started with a weekly Women’s Circle in Oliver. This circle provides support for women on the waitlist as well as for other women in the community that do not necessarily meet the criteria for counselling at Desert Sun. The circle was so popular that we are now offering 3 Women’s Circles – two in Oliver and one in Osoyoos. We have also been approached by some men in the community who expressed a need for a men’s circle. This circle will start early in the new year and will run for 10 sessions in the spring and the fall. We are happy to be able to provide this service due to generous donations from our communities. Our Peace program that provides support to children who witnessed or experienced violence is busy, but thanks to extra funding from the Ministry of Justice we have no wait-list.
The renovations at Sandalwood (affordable housing complex) are finally coming to an end and we are happy that we were able to provide brand new roofing, doors, heating and cooling units, and also some new appliances to our tenants. Our Units are full with a wait-list and there has been no turnover in our tenants. We will start a brand new program, called the Men’s Shed, out of the shop at Sandalwood in the new year. The shed will provide men with a friendly gathering place to have coffee, work on projects of their choice, learn how to be more technologically savvy (think skype, facetime internet safety etc.) and they will also cook some amazing meals together as the shop has a new kitchen. We have just received notice that we have been awarded a Community Foundation grant for this program and we are eagerly awaiting to hear if we were successful in the New Horizons grant application.
Our Computer Tutor program runs out of both the Osoyoos and Oliver library and if you or someone you know need assistance with your computer, an application or a program be sure to make an appointment to see Krishelle, appointments book up fast so be sure to act quickly.
Roots of Empathy is offered in both Oliver and Osoyoos and targets students in the primary and intermediate years. This year we are reaching approximately 110 students – unfortunately the Provincial government did not provide any funding for training of new instructors this year and quite a few of our instructors retired last year so we are hopeful to train a few instructors before the start of the new school year.
Our Parenting program at the Okanagan Correctional Centre is popular with inmates and we have worked with over 100 inmates so far this year. This is a new contract for Desert Sun and we hope the start of an enduring working relationship with the Centre. We enjoy our work with the inmates – it is hard but rewarding work that we hope will break the cycle of violence.
The Community Kitchen and Parenting programs at the kitchen, in Strong Start and at the office is well needed and attended and provide healthy nutritious meals to clients as well as support to our vulnerable parents and their children. This program is available to parents from both Oliver and Osoyoos and the kitchen runs every Thursday from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. This program supports isolated parents, provides food security and is a safe space for parents to learn and network with each other while their children play supervised by a qualified child minder.
In the Summer Desert Sun hosted the Fearlessly Facing Forward camp. The intent of the camp was to teach students self awareness, further socio–emotional development, resiliency and to expose students to a variety of opportunities outside in nature and away from technology. The camp was very successful with 23 students attending.
Our Organization was also approached by Decoda Literacy Now in the summer to be the regional host agency for Literacy Now. We have established a new energetic and passionate task force and we have just hired a new Literacy Coordinator. Since we became the host agency we hosted a one to one reading tutor training session for SD53 and SD67 and connected with the Provincial One to One Reading organization to be a pilot region and this allowed us to hire a 1-1 volunteer reading coordinator for both SD67 and Sd53. She will ensure that the mandate for the 1-1 reading program is followed in all of the elementary schools in the 2 school districts. We are excited to be involved in making the people of the South Okanagan more literate. Literacy Now will also fund a new program (Storytime) at the Okangan Correctional Centre. Desert Sun will be responsible for the implementation for this program and we are hopeful to start this early in the new year.
We wish you the very best for the New Year and Season’s Greetings!