PUBLISHED: Collaboration is key for non-profits in Squamish

PUBLISHED: Collaboration is key for non-profits in Squamish

Leaders work hard to make the district a better place to live


MARCH 13, 2017 12:30 PM


Collaboration as a key to the success of a non-profit community-based organization is evident when listening to just a few of the women working in the non-profit sector in Squamish. 


Women are running many local non-profits, leading the way in making Squamish a better place to live for everyone. Their hard work and success show how valuable non-profits are to our community. 


“In order to solve the problems in our community it is going to take a hands together approach, all of us together,” said Ann Marie McKenzie, community and operations manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Canada in the Sea to Sky Corridor. “Each community has its own challenges that they face and it is important for our community to know that it takes a collaborative approach in order to solve these problems.”


McKenzie has been involved with BBBS in the Sea to Sky Corridor for the past six years with a focus on community development projects and partnerships, collaborating with youth groups to provide services and programming and providing marketing and recruitment operations for the corridor.


Howe Sound Women Centre’s executive director, Megan Reynolds, cuts the centre’s birthday cake along with philanthropist Clasina van Bemmel. The Women’s Centre celebrated its 35th birthday last October. Looking ahead, the society is focused on finding affordable safe housing options for women and children escaping abuse. – File photo

“I work with everything outside the office to bring it inside the office for staff to work with. I act as a support for them,” added McKenzie, who was sure to emphasize how important her staff and volunteers are to the success of BBBS programing. 


“We look at what more we can be doing. We have lots of youth support and opportunities in our community so we want to know what we can do so that those groups and individuals will benefit from it.”


McKenzie isn’t the only organization leader working hard to work with others. Jennifer Schorz, Squamish Savings Branch manager, says that as part of her role as an advisor with the Squamish Savings Partner Board she is looking to redefine the idea of wealth and that means connecting into the community by bringing people together to talk and establish a common solution.


“We are always looking to collaborate with non-profits,” said Schorz. 


“Our dream, our wish, is for all non-profits to collaborate in the Sea to Sky Corridor.”


Squamish Savings, which donates 30 per cent of its net profit to community organizations, works on a “handout, hands up and hands together” model, explained Schorz. 


Squamish Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring co-ordinator Karen Tapp, communities and operations manager Ann Marie McKenzie and supervisor Carlee Baker. – David Buzzard

“We give grants to get things going. We offer services for free to elevate the organizations’ goals, and then we sit face to face and develop programming,” says Schorz. 


“We work with the groups to establish what they want.”


Megan Reynolds, executive director of Howe Sound Women’s Centre (HSWC), said that one of their largest efforts right now is being put towards finding long-term solutions for affordable housing in the Sea to Sky Corridor. 


“We are working on the housing crisis to ensure that affordable rent options exist for women and their children who may be seeking help or are fleeing from violent situations,” said Reynolds. 


“Squamish is the trial location for the housing initiative and we hope to be able to expand it to the other communities of the Sea to Sky Corridor, including Whistler and Pemberton.” 


Reynolds, who began working with the HSWC in May of 2013, is responsible for all of the centre’s program delivery, advocacy, finances and administrative work. Providing services in Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton and a number of First Nations communities the HSWC looks to empower women and girls in the Sea to Sky Corridor and help foster and create a violence free future for women.


“The big thing that I want the community to know is that we have a responsibility in creating a community where women and girls are treated equally,” said Reynolds, adding that their long-term focus is to open up innovative solutions to housing for every woman and child who may need it. 


The HSWC isn’t the only local organization looking to tackle the housing crisis. 


Squamish Helping Hands front line worker Kent Halvorson and executive director Maureen Mackell in the shelter’s kitchen. – David Buzzard

Maureen Mackell, executive director of the Squamish Helping Hands Society (SHHS), which provides food, shelter and community to individuals and families in the Sea to Sky Region who are living with or threatened by homelessness, has been working hard to create a long-term housing solution with the project Under One Roof.


“Under One Roof is an exciting and innovative project which will bring our current programs and a variety of partners together to provide services in a new way,” said Mackell. 


“With only emergency shelter options and very few transitional beds, our biggest challenge is to find housing for our clients.”


In partnership with the District of Squamish, BC Housing, the Squamish Food Bank Society and others, Under One Roof is currently in the pre-development phase as a major relocation project for the SHHS.


“Whether it is to be kind to someone on the street, to rent a suite at a lower rate or to support Helping Hands in our efforts to find solutions for folks who are at risk and struggling… it all leads to the same end,” said Mackell. 


“Every bit makes a difference and creates a community where everyone feels worthy and has the opportunity to grow and thrive.” 


@ Copyright 2017 Squamish Chief


Original Article:

Featured Photo: Squamish Savings Community Branch manager Jennifer Schorz is an advisor for the Squamish Savings Partner Board.   Photo: David Buzzard