Keremeos and the Lower Similkameen have access to a number of social services, uniquely available under the umbrella of a single organization.
The Lower Similkameen Community Services Society provides a “one stop shop” for a diverse range of social services, such as seniors and low cost housing programs, childrens and new parent programs, English as a Second Language, women’s, mental health and victims of violence counselling, to name but a few.
“We have a broad mandate,” explained LSCSS Administrator Eileen Bauer.
“Over the years, if we have seen a gap in service to the community, we’ve tried to fill it. We are the only non-profit in the Lower Similkameen to offer these types of programs. Over the years we have continued to broaden our focus to serve the community.”
The LSCSS began as a registered charity and non-profit society in 1976. Today, headed by board chairman Walter Despot, it partners with Interior Health and other government ministries to provide social programs to the Lower Similkameen, and funding comes in part from contracts to provide those services.
Public awareness of what the society offers to Similkameen residents is an issue for the LSCSS. It seems that many residents either don’t know who the LSCSS is, or what they offer.
As briefly as possible, here is a list of services available through the LSCSS:
Meals on Wheels – Volunteer drivers bring a meal to the door of a senior at home, for a very reasonable price.
Program Coordinator Susan Kellar, who also plays a role in volunteer recruitment for the LSCSS, said the society has a high need for volunteers, including volunteer drivers – in any amount of time commitment.
Call Susan or Cheri at 250-499-2352 for more information.
Dave Cursons is the LSCSS Coordinator for Family Literacy programs designed to advance the good use of language for people of all ages.
Ron Shonk provides victim support services for the RCMP through the LSCSS. Shonk provides emotional support and practical assistance to crime victims. He also provides educational and proactive violence prevention initiatives through such programs as “Change for good” and the Proactive Violence Prevention (PVP) project. Shonk can be contacted at:
Andrea Massing provides programs in English as a Second Language instruction.
“People in the Similkameen who use the program come from widely diverse backgrounds,” Massing explained, “all students must be foreign born, and many attend the program to reach a specific goal.”
Massing said a certain level of English competency is now required to pass Citizenship exams, and many immigrants find the program useful to attain such a goal in language useage. She said the program is busiest in winter, and the one to one nature of instruction is highly preferred over instruction via computer by most students.
Katherine Tomczuk is the LSCSS Coordinator for Gustavson House, a portion of the LSCSS office on Veterans Avenue containing kitchen and living room facilities. Tomczuk offers a drop in centre for clients with mental health issues. Every Wednesday afternoon a half dozen of her clients assemble to eat a healthy meal and socialize.
“It provides some help to those in the community with chronic health issues who aren’t eating ,” Tomczuk explained, adding she enjoyed cooking, so always made sufficient quantities to allow her clients to take an extra meal home.
Tomczuk also conducts “Art Connect,” a get together of seniors interested in art to which all are welcome. The sessions take place at Kyalami Place every second Monday of the month and at Mountain View Manor every fourth Monday.
Cheri Mitchell coordinates the Community Action Plan for Children. Services in her program include preschool activities such as Mother Goose and Tumble Bumble, and other new parent programs such as Parenting Tips and Prenatal Nutrition and Support.
“The programs offer resources, referrals and support for new families,” she said, noting that all the programs could be accessed on a drop in basis.
Anda Brockhoff coordinates “Stopping the Violence,” a counselling program to help abused women regain control of their lives.
“Anxiety is a big issue in our society,” Brockhoff said, “it’s mind-blowing how prevalent anxiety issues are – and little is understood about it.”
Sarah Martin coordinates the LSCSS housing projects at both Mountain View Manor, and Tumbleweed Terrace. (Bev Wager coordinates Kyalami Place Assisted Living).
The society manages Mountain View Manor and Tumbleweed Terrace, and works with BC Housing to place residents in Kyalami Place in the Similkameen Health Centre. The three housing facilities offer different levels of care to senior and handicapped residents, at a reasonable cost. The LSCSS manages a total of 56 housing units.
“We welcome people to come and request a tour,” Martin said, “many older residents don’t realize what is available to them in terms of choice of housing and care in the village.”
Perhaps the title of one of the LSCSS’ pamphlets says it all – by asking the question, “How can we help you?”- because of the number of services offered, the best way to find out is to give them a call at 250-499-2352 .