All kinds of learning opportunities await the community via the Lacombe Lifelong Learning Association.
“We’ve had a really busy spring this year,” said Executive Director Dani Ducross. “We had a large increase in our English as a Second Language learners coming in from many different countries with several from Ukraine – so that has been exciting.”
It can also prove to be a challenging and emotional time for the newcomers – particularly for those who are from Ukraine and have also had to leave loved ones behind.
“We see people come in who don’t know where they are supposed to go – they’ve been here maybe one week and all of a sudden they need all of these things,” she said.
“What we are seeing is that once they get settled and they are able to connect with others, they are seeing there is a whole bunch of people in Lacombe that are starting out at the same place – whether they are coming from Ukraine, or Mexico or Taiwan. They are coming from different backgrounds, but (in some ways) they are all starting from the same place.”
As they build their English skills, they are supporting each other. “They are building their confidence again. Then you start to see them come in and they are smiling – oh my goodness – it’s like, okay, we are winning right there!
“We’ve also had a lot of collaborations with different groups – we worked with the Employment Centre, and we put on that Employment Expo back in January. And then we hosted the Spring Activity Fair in March,” she said, adding that currently, they are gearing up for their fall programming.
Much of that programming will be detailed in the ‘Don’t Hibernate’ guide which is published at the end of August.
“We will also have our Fall Active Living Fair on Sept. 13 at the Lacombe Memorial Centre from 4 to 7:30 p.m.,” she said.
Summer is a relatively quiet time, although a key program that focuses on employment enhancement does run in both July and August.
“It’s called New Futures – it’s one week long and it is funded by the Government of Alberta. We do one in July and another in August.”
Those interested can give Ducross a call or reach out via email to sign up.
“It’s a fantastic program, and it covers a lot of bases in terms of job transitions and for employment seekers,” she explained.
“We’ve got one the week of July 17 and the week of August 14,” she said, adding that the program is also known as the ‘employment transitions workshop’.
These are held once a month throughout the year as well.
“Those who take the program love it – they come out feeling empowered and prepared for what they want to do next,” she said. “I can say without hesitation that every single one of the people that go through that program ends up with a job within four months,” she said.
“I think we are also going to try and run some of our English classes (through the summer) and possibly the drop-in once a week for the seniors’ computer ‘question and answer’ class. We are just finalizing that, but that is what we have on our radar for the next couple of months,” she said.
The Association, which is located in the Lacombe Centre Mall, is a non-profit society that is also one of more than 80 Adult Literacy Programs across the province.
Overall, the mandate is to provide opportunities in literacy and foundational skills, English language learning, employment enhancement, and community capacity enhancement.
Specifically, topics run the gamut from literacy/numeracy improvement, basic bookkeeping, and basic office skills programs to classes on relationship communication, home buying, end-of-life planning, writing for fun, cooking, and even courses in Spanish and French.
“Our mandate is just to encourage people to keep on learning at all stages of their lives, and we want to be able to give them as many opportunities to do that as we can.”