Ron Shonk has served as Keremeos RCMP Victim Services Coordinator since January of 2009. The Village of Keremeos is the hub of the Lower Similkameen Valley, including the smaller communities of Olalla and Cawston. In this capacity he has provided service to over 50 new clients per year, with an active case load from 60 to 75 persons.
In mid 2009 his contract holder (Lower Similkameen Community Services Society) asked him for suggestions regarding the use of some unused funding within his program account. He proposed creation of the Lower Similkameen’s “Proactive Violence Project” (PVPP) envisioned as an ongoing community wide grassroots effort to raise awareness, educate, and take preventive action with regard to issues of domestic violence, bullying, sexual assault / date rape and elder abuse. With the endorsement of both the LSCSS administrator and the Keremeos RCMP detachment commander, the proposal was submitted to and received the approval of The Ministry of Public Safety, Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division.
Under the motto, “Safety in our Communities, Safety in our Homes”, PVPP now enjoys the official endorsement of thirty government, civic, fraternal, health care and religious organizations and local businesses – including the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, RDOS Areas “B” and “G”, School District 53 and the Village of Keremeos. Ron continues to serve as the project coodinator.
During its nearly two and one half years Ron has researched, written and submitted over sixteen press releases and letters to the local weekly newspaper, the Review, all of which have been printed. PVPP has also used direct mail to the valley’s residents as well as designing and distributing seasonal posters which are widely displayed throughout the valley’s communities as a means of communicating its proactive message and mission. It has provided public seminars on elder abuse, distributed literature to parents and school children and – cooperatively with the Similkameen Elementary and Secondary School – has offered a program for parents on bullying.
Growing out of his work with abused and assaulted spouses, Ron became aware of the need to capture the attention of abusers themselves, to challenge their behaviours, and to offer resources for change to them – this side of a jail cell. His first step, through PVPP, was to launch the “Men Together Initiative”. Over one hundred of the valley’s male residents and workers, ages 16 and over, are now members of “Men Together: Saying No to Violence Against Women and Children”. The number of united male voices in the area continues to grow.
When local attempts to find funding to create a counselling and support program for abusers was unsuccessful, Ron took his concerns and proposal to the South Okanagan – Similkameen VIR Committee, a network of thirty organizations and agencies that all know and address the impact of violence in relationships. Recognizing the “Stop the Violence” potential of direct outreach to abusers, VIR was successful in finding intial funding from both B.C. and RCMP sources, and recently launched their professionally staffed, “Change for Good” program. CFG now offers counselling services in Penticton, Oliver and Osoyoos, Princeton and Keremeos. Ron wrote the successful grant proposals.
Ron has also served as a key player in securing funding for and organizing a response based practice training event for VIR workers in March of this year. The intensive, three day event, held in Penticton, drew 127 professionals from all over B.C.
Ron also serves on the Village of Keremeos Alcohol and Substance Abuse Education Committee, which provides MADD and other creative programs to the local school; he is a member of the Change for Good Advisory Committee, and continues his active participation on the VIR Committee.
His commitment, innovation, perseverance, and cooperative spirit are recognized and appreciated not only within his local community, but also among his multi organization colleagues throughout the Okanagan – Similkameen area.