BY ZACHARY CORMIER
It’s hard to imagine what the community of Lacombe would look like if the Lacombe and District Family and Community Support Services (LDFCSS) wasn’t around.
The province-wide FCSS program, which provides social services such as child and youth programs is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the province of Alberta this year.
“FCSS is a unique program within the province. Basically we provide preventative social services and programs and services for families, for individuals, for people of all ages,” said Lacombe FCSS Executive Director Susan MacDonald.
Founded in 1966 as Preventative Social Services (PSS), FCSS has grown from an organization with no staff and no permanent office into a province-wide group of local FCSS initiatives that cover almost every community in Alberta.
“FCSS way back when was a program created by the Province of Alberta in cooperation with municipalities and Metis settlements. Across the province now, FCSS is in 99.9 per cent of the communities in Alberta. So that’s a pretty great service,” said MacDonald, noting the Lacombe and District FCSS incorporated just five years later.
“FCSS throughout Lacombe County, Lacombe and District started out as kind of a regional FCSS. Now all of the other municipalities in the County have their own FCSS programs. So I would say it started out with a lot of focus on offering some seniors’ programs like Meals on Wheels and educational and support programs for families and it’s certainly evolved over the years.”
Interestingly, even though nearly every community in Alberta has an FCSS, they all remain autonomous and no two organizations are entirely alike.
“In all different communities, FCSS may look a little bit different because you have the autonomy within the program to determine what services will be offered in your community,” MacDonald said.
“We try to provide supports for individuals and families. We’re providing supports and strengthening communities, that’s kind of our slogan. We pride ourselves, in our programs and services, we work with the community to find out what the needs are and then we establish our programs based on that.”
The Lacombe FCSS, according to the group’s web site, is an 80/20 funding partnership between the Province of Alberta and the City of Lacombe that, “Facilitates the delivery of locally-driven preventative social initiatives and programming which enhance the well-being of individuals, families and the community,” according to the mission statement.
In order to achieve this, the Lacombe FCSS offers a wide variety of programs including the Leaders of Tomorrow Awards, the Rainbows Bereavement Support Group for Children, a Healthy Families initiative, Fill a Fridge, and, of course, the highly-successful Meals on Wheels program.
In fact, according to MacDonald, Lacombe’s FCSS currently runs about 20 different programs and services, almost all of which are run entirely by volunteers.
“All of our programs we do in cooperation with different agencies or different businesses and other local organizations in town, and then we also have a very strong volunteer base. We’re very community based and certainly have a huge commitment from volunteers here in Lacombe and area,” said MacDonald, adding the organization is thankful for all of the support they have received from the community over the years.
She added the entire community of Lacombe has been incredibly supportive of FCSS.
“I heard recently that Lacombe was named the most generous community in Canada. It’s so true. When I heard that I said well I can certainly understand where that’s coming from because from FCSS we certainly get a lot of support.”
The Lacombe FCSS, she said, has plans to continue growing with the community that has housed it for so long and to continue to provide the services that have become so important to the community.
“We may see some growth in our Parent Link services. Probably in our community outreach program, which helps individuals that may be struggling with a variety of issues,” she said.
“It’s always changing. Some programs stay constant over the years but we’re always trying to adapt to whatever the needs are based on what people are telling us in the community.”
More information of the Lacombe FCSS and a full list of the programs they offer can be found on their web site at www.lacombefcss.net.