By Carson Ellis
For the Independent
Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) Stettler marked 50 years in the community with a brief presentation and dinner.
Members of both municipalities were on hand to extend their congratulations to the organization that has helped so many.
Starting in 1973 with the first meeting of the Preventative Social Services (PSS), it would function as PSS until 1981 when the name changed to Family and Community Support Services (FCSS).
Since its inception, FCSS has provided a variety of services to members of the community.
It has also been the incubator of many programs and organizations that are now independent with their own boards and funding, some funding still coming from FCSS.
Heartland Youth Centre, the Christmas Hamper Society, and Superfluity are just a few examples.
During the afternoon, members of the community were invited to tour the current FCSS offices and learn about the different programs and services they provide.
Starting at 5 p.m. guests were invited to move outside where tables had been set up for a brief presentation from members of the Town and County municipalities and a roast beef dinner.
Board Chair Les Stulberg acted as Master of Ceremonies. He shared a letter received from Stettler MLA Nate Horner who was unable to attend.
Stulberg noted that Horner was a big supporter of the program. He also announced they had received a letter from the Family and Community Support Services Association of Alberta, which is the provincial office designed to oversee FCSS programs across the province.
The Association extended congratulations on a half-century of service to Albertans.
Stettler Mayor Sean Nolls was then introduced. Nolls congratulated the program on their time in the community.
He said that FCSS was such a vital part of what makes those in the Town and County what we are. He thanked them and wished them the best in everything they do.
County Reeve Larry Clarke was then introduced. He noted that it was an honor to bring greetings to the FCSS on behalf of the County of Stettler.
He said that it was important to tip their hats to the small but powerful team.
Clarke commented on the fact that the jobs of those in the program are not for everyone and that it takes a dedicated group of people to do what they do and help others in so many ways.
He noted that, “These often-overlooked superheroes juggle some of life’s most pressing issues.” He also took a moment to recognize not only the current staff but also the staff that has come before.
Stulberg then introduced Executive Director of Stettler FCSS Shelly Walker.
Walker has been with the Stettler program for more than 25 years, eight of which as the program’s director.
Walker extended a welcome and thanks from the staff and board of FCSS to everyone who was in attendance.
Walker then touched briefly on the early days of the program, making special recognition of the program’s first director Jean Gilbert.
She also gave a short list of some of the programs that have successfully become independent and have benefited the community for several years.
“FCSS programs are intended to help individuals adopt healthy lifestyles, improve quality of life and build the capacity to prevent and deal with crisis situations as they arise,” she said.
She then introduced her board members which include two representatives from Town council and two from County council. Walker then introduced her staff.
Stulberg shared a few interesting facts about the program.
He explained how Alberta is the only province with the FCSS program. It has also the belief of the Province that for every dollar spent on FCSS, it saves the province three to five dollars on preventative impacts.
He also explained that 80 per cent of FCSS funding comes from the Province with the Town and County municipalities covering the remaining 20 per cent.
There are also other grants that the program is able to apply for.
After the presentation, guests were invited to enjoy a roast beef lunch complete with salads, beans, and cupcakes.
Before dinner was served Pastor Jerry Hunt was invited to give the blessing. Guests then enjoyed a light dinner and were able to visit with members of the board and staff of the program.