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Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness Fundraiser

Benefiting people in our area

This joint project with the Island Crisis Care Society is aiming to raise money to benefit local people in accessing and maintaining housing. Funds donated will be matched until these funds, provided by the Bienfaisance Foundation, run out. These funds are running out fast however, as a host of other social service fundraising campaigns throughout B.C. claim the same dollars. Donate as little as $5.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

A Unique Kind of Coffee Club

Volunteering at SOS Thrift Shop offers fun and friendship

A Unique Kind of Coffee Club

While many of their counterparts are catching up at local cafes, the Wednesday afternoon volunteers at the SOS Thrift Shop are putting a new spin on the weekly coffee club. The group combines the social benefits of meeting for coffee, with giving back to the community, creating win-win-win. While bonding over clothing racks and cash registers may not seem as fun as lingering over a donut and a double-double, this happy group of volunteers beg to differ.

SOS Thrift Shop volunteers can work the cash, tag clothes or sort donations in the back. A 3.5 hour shift is the norm, especially for the cashiers, but volunteers are not restricted to that. This group works the same Wednesday shift because the schedule suits them (and because they have become friends). but Don and some others are also known for taking a “power hour,” where they drop in on other days as well, when it’s convenient for them, just to help out where necessary.

“You feel like you have accomplished something even if it’s only for an hour,” he says. “The other thing is that everyone is equal here,” adds Don. “The full-time staff treats us like gold.”

Adds volunteer Frances Cej, “You feel really valued here.”

Amid a spontaneous chorus of positive comments from other volunteers, one sums it up best, “It’s common sense and respect. Everyone has fun, and a sense of humour. I have seen nothing but smiles here.”

Just what one would expect from their weekly coffee club.

Better at Home Friendly Visitors

A Friendly Face Can Make a World of Difference

Better at Home Friendly Visitors

When SOS started offering friendly visiting through the Oceanside Better at Home program, volunteer Elaine Eddy jumped at the chance to volunteer. Eight months and countless cribbage games later, Eddy and the man she visits for an hour each week have become good friends. As a bonus, Eddy has found a new friend in the man’s daughter as well.

“I had heard about the Better at Home program and thought that I would like to help out in some way, especially because I know how valuable it is just to have a regular visitor.”

When her mother was still alive, Elaine Eddy’s visits with her became filled with “doing things for her,” she says. “I’d either be taking her to the doctor or helping her in some other way. We’re all so busy, and my husband was sick and dying of cancer at the time, so there was no time to just visit and enjoy each other’s company.”

Then a friend of Eddy’s offered to visit her mother on a regular basis. “It meant the world to me and to my mother,” she says. “My mother had different things to talk about; she had someone who was interested in her stories who hadn’t heard them before, and it was so nice to know that someone was there for her when I couldn’t be.”

In fact, it is often the adult children of seniors who first contact Jane Williams, Oceanside Better at Home coordinator, to arrange a friendly visit for their parent. Williams explains that it can initially be a difficult step for seniors to take.

“Some people might feel as though there’s something wrong with them if they feel lonely, or don’t have anyone who will come just to visit them,” says Williams. “But it’s not about not having friends, it’s about how busy the world has become. A friendly visitor is there strictly to visit and spend quality time with you.”

Some seniors are also concerned about inviting a stranger into their home. Eddy’s friend’s daughter stayed with her father the first few visits, until everyone was comfortable. All Better at Home volunteers are also carefully screened and must provide a police information check before being approved as volunteers. Williams also ensures that friendly visitors are going to be a good match for specific Better at Home clients.

“I think all of us wish we could just stop once in while and take the time for a good visit with someone, just to share a story, have a laugh or play a game,” adds Williams. “that’s what this program is all about.”

There is no charge for this service. If you or someone you love could benefit from a friendly visit through Oceanside Better at Home, call Jane at 250-248-2093, ext. 248.

Monday, 05 May 2014 Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Youth Week at SOS

SOS Celebrates Youth All Year

Youth Week at SOS

This week (May 1- 7)) is National Youth Week, a week dedicated to the celebration of youth and their active participation in their community. SOS offers various services for youth through the Child,Youth and Family Centre programming, by responding to each individual participant’s needs, and helping them access resources in the community, whether that involves mental health, employment preparedness, sexuality or life skills.


“It’s no secret that today’s youth are facing more challenges than ever,” says Paulette Harcourt, manager of SOS Child, Youth and Family Centre. “The pressures placed on youth by their peers, parents and by society are enormous.”

“Anxiety is the number one concern among youth right now, about family situations, school, friendships, safety, you name it,” says Harcourt. “Finding positive ways to cope with that anxiety is a life skill that any of us could benefit from.”

SOS offers programming to help young people navigate the stress and pressure, and to help them connect with the positive aspects of being a young person in the Oceanside Community.

Nikki Westra-Luney, youth coordinator for SOS says that building an atmosphere of safety is critical to the success of SOS Youth Programs, so that “youth can feel free to be themselves when they are here,” she says.

“We have an awesome group of teens who have formed some really strong friendships here at SOS. Whether we’re talking about serious issues that are happening in their lives, or out at a movie or activity in the community, it’s a really cool group to be involved with.”

To help celebrate Youth Week, SOS assisted with an event at Ballenas Secondary School on May 1st . The event included a DJ battle; BBQ; inflatable Hamster Balls; and a street hockey game of teens versus off-duty local RCMP. The weather was awesome; the teens who came out were amazing; the DJs kept the party going, and a great time was had by all!


Monday, 14 April 2014

Parksville-Qualicum Haven House on Shaw

Stories of Courage and Hope












 Thank you to SHAW for spotlighting Parksville-Qualicum Haven House.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Volunteer Week Was Extra Special at SOS This Year

If you have ever visited the SOS Thrift Shop, you have been helped by a volunteer. If you, or your neighbour has received a meal from Meals on Wheels, that meal was delivered by an SOS volunteer. If you know children and youth who are participants in SOS programs, those programs are strengthened with the help of SOS volunteers. If you have had your income tax filed through SOS, that tax return has been completed by an SOS volunteer. If you dropped off a gift to the SOS Christmas program, a volunteer helped that gift find a home.

“Most people who live in the Oceanside community have been touched by the kindness and generosity of volunteers,” says Andy Telfer, coordinator of volunteer resources at SOS. “Next week during National Volunteer Week, SOS joins all Canadians in thanking volunteers for making our communities stronger, and more connected.”

SOS is grateful for a roster of over 350 volunteers, who help deliver 30 programs at SOS, ranging from medical drives and services for seniors, to after school programs for teens, parent groups for new moms – and everything in between.

“We simply would not be able to offer the range of programming that we do to the community if it were not for our volunteers. One week in the year to recognize them seems like such a brief moment in time, when in our hearts we are thanking them every moment that they are delivering SOS services to the community,” adds Telfer.

SOS volunteers were honoured at a special SOS volunteers luncheon on April 8, the highlight of which was recognizing two volunteers, Verna Jenkins and Edith Chamberlayne, who have been with SOS since the very beginning, 45 years ago. Both women continue to contribute their time and energy to the community today, and personify the qualities that are recognized during National Volunteer Week, which runs April 6-12.

“SOS recently received the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award for Social Innovator,” says Renate Sutherland, executive director of Society of Organized Services. “Imagine the power behind every act of kindness delivered by our volunteers over many years, so that one non-profit organization in small-town Canada, earned national recognition by our Prime Minister.

“Of course we are very honoured by the award, but we are thousands of times more honoured that our volunteers care enough about others in the community, and choose to give their time and energy to SOS. To be able to share this recognition with our volunteers next week, and recognize volunteers who have been with us since day one, makes this National Volunteer Week extra special,” added Sutherland.

SOS Receives Prime Minister's Volunteer Award

Way to go SOS Volunteers!

SOS Receives Prime Minister's Volunteer Award

On February 27, Society of Organized Services was one of the recipients honoured by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, during the second Prime Minister's Volunteer Awards (PMVA) at a special ceremony in Toronto. Accepting the award on behalf of SOS was Cory McIntosh, SOS president, and Renate Sutherland, SOS executive director.

The Prime Minister’s Volunteer Awards recognize two national recipients, one for lifelong achievement and one for an emerging leader, as well as 15 individuals, businesses and not-for-profit organizations in five regions across Canada. The awards also highlight best practices in community leadership and encourage partnerships across sectors. SOS is a regional (British Columbia and North) award recipient in the category of Social Innovator.

The recipients, who were selected through a rigorous assessment process, were presented with medals, certificates and lapel pins. As part of their recognition package, each recipient will identify a not-for-profit organization to receive a one-time funding grant in their honour. Not-for-profit organizations identified by the 15 regional award recipients will each receive $5,000, and those identified by the two national award recipients will each receive $10,000.

“It was a humbling experience to hear of the great work other volunteers are doing around the country. However, it was truly a proud moment for me to accept the award on behalf of all SOS volunteers.  I am looking forward to sharing it with everyone when we return, especially (SOS founding member) Edith Chamberlayne,” said McIntosh. 

“SOS has always been tremendously grateful to our volunteers, who have formed the foundation of SOS right from the very beginning,” says Renate Sutherland, executive director at Society of Organized Services. “It may seem like a simple thing for our volunteers, to perform those every day tasks on behalf of SOS, whether it’s caring for toddlers, delivering meals to shut ins, working the till in the thrift shop, or donating their time in any of our programs. But it really contributes to changing our world.”

For more information about the awards and recipients visit

Fairy Godmother Donates Princess Dresses to Grad Wear

Grads - get your Grad Dress for just $5.00!

Fairy Godmother Donates Princess Dresses to Grad Wear

First, there was an armful of teal dresses, some sleek and satiny; some with mega bling and a mountain of tulle. Next came a half-dozen mauve and purple numbers - again in a range of styles, and sizes (0-18 in that armload alone). As the treasure trove of 60 brand new, stunning grad dresses started to pour into the Society of Organized Services Child, Youth and Family Centre, staff of SOS, and Grad Wear coordinator Nikki Westra-Luney were quite literally awestruck.

“The dresses are absolutely amazing,” said Nikki. “It’s a huge boost to the Grad Wear Program, not just because we now have a very large inventory of brand new grad dresses that teens can get for just five dollars, but also because someone cares enough about youth to support our program in this very meaningful way.”

That “someone” is the owner of Maidas, a bridal store in Courtenay, who preferred to remain anonymous, but did say that she was delighted to donate the dresses to SOS, most of which still have the price tags attached, ranging from $100 to over $500.

The SOS Grad Wear program welcomes grade 12 grads who can not afford the expense of a grad outfit, to choose the dress of their dreams, or a suit or tux, plus shoes and accessories, for just five dollars. Dresses are new or gently used, tuxes and suits are gently used, and everything is theirs to keep. SOS will also outfit dates of grads, which can make for a fun shopping experience at the Child, Youth and Family Centre.

Interested grads can book an appointment with Nikki by calling 250-248-2093, ext. 232, and can check out just some of the dresses on Facebook at SOS Grad Wear 2014.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Learn More About SOS on YouTube

Learn about SOS programs and services here:

Lil Jarvis: 40 Years

40 years of volunteering and still going...

Lil Jarvis: 40 Years

Leading Community Committment

Lil Jarvis is 92 years young, and walks to the Thrift Shop where she assists with the processing of donated clothing. Staff, and fellow volunteers say “Lil is a blast with a great sense of humour”, and “a special person who is a joy to be around”. 


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Positive Reviews:

  • Thank you for arranging a drive for my medical appointment... I really appreciate your cheerfulness...

    ~ a safely transported client

  • Not since the banquets of Nero... has such a meal been served on golden plates!

    ~ a delighted diner

  • The program was most helpful, empowering, and valuable.

    ~ a self-help participant

  • I have become more dignified and stable.

    ~ a community member enriched

  • This is the best day of my whole life.

    ~ a child's first picnic

  • Besides the hardship assistance, subsidized children's programming and vouchers... you have given us the greatest gift... respect, compassion, and dignity.

    ~ a family helped