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The Board of Directors and the staff at Desert Sun Counselling and Resource Centre Society would like to wish you Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes in the New Year. We would like to thank you for your support and would like to share some highlights of our year at Desert Sun with you!

We are grateful for another year of growth at Desert Sun. A year that we dealt with waitlists and currently we have no waitlists for the Women’s Counselling program in Osoyoos, the PEACE program (children’s counselling) in Osoyoos and Oliver and a short waitlist for Women’s Counselling in Oliver. Our Men’s Counselling continues to have a waitlist, which is expected as we receive no funding for this program, but we have alleviated some pressure from the waitlist by offering a Men’s Group. The Men’s Group ran for eight weeks and was extremely well attended with great feedback from attendees and if funding is available we will be running this group again in the spring. Interesting to note that CBC just ran an article in which it is clear that the latest research shows that ending the cycle of violence starts with helping the men. This underlines the importance of securing resources for another Men’s Group.

Our Men’s Shed is growing and expanding and it is my fear that we might outgrow our small shop in Sandalwood by the end of 2020! The Men have completed many projects in the last few months: candleholders, jenga blocks, cat activity houses, Christmas ornaments and they have even worked on some electronic projects. Stop by the Men’s Shed and check it out, the coffee is always on and it is a friendly gathering place for men to get together and work shoulder to shoulder. We are happy that we have received funding from the South Okanagan Community Foundation for the Men’s Shed for another year.

This year was the first year that we co-hosted with Osoyoos Soroptomist a Women’s March in recognition of International Women’s Day. We marched to draw attention to the fact that so many women in the world are left out of the workforce because they have to provide water to their families. This means many women spend most of their day carrying water from wells miles away from where they live.

Roots of Empathy is offered on a much smaller scale this year due to time constraints and lack of funding. This year we only have three programs running. We are hopeful that we will be able to train at least three new instructors in the next year so that we can expand the program to all of our elementary schools again.

The Parenting Program at the Okanagan Correctional Centre is continuing to be popular with the inmates and we have dealt with more than 120 inmates this year. We will have 4 instructors trained to deliver the curriculum by the start of the new year which makes delivering the program more manageable.

We have built many partnerships in the last year; WorkBC, Boys and Girls Club, OneSky, Decoda, SD53 and SD67 and local service clubs. We believe that these partnerships enable us to better serve our communities and close gaps that currently exist. In 2020 we will have four contracted counsellors working in schools in SD53. We are hopeful that providing these services will enhance the mental health of students, children and their families in our communities.

Our partnership with OneSky led to us offering an Early Years program for children (0-6 years old) and their parents in both Osoyoos and Oliver. This program is an outdoor based program based on exploration and free play. Our facilitators have been very successful in making the program fun and we have up to 10 parents and children attending daily.

We would like to thank everyone for their donations and support to all of our programs. As we end 2019 we are filled with gratitude for the growth we experienced in 2019 and are looking forward to all the opportunities 2020 will bring to our organization.