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Dream to reality: UCRC now serves 15 years in Unity

Unity Community Resource Centre recently received a generous donation from the Odd Fellow Lodge IOOF, which closed in June, in recognition of many years of service for Grand Secretary Nick Seneshen.


UNITY — Perhaps not as well known to everyone as it is to those who regularly use the centre. Unity Community Resource Center began talks in 2007 and opened its doors in 2008.

The centre has now been offering services for 15 years in Unity. While there are no plans in place yet for 15th-anniversary celebrations there is still much to celebrate.

It was a vision and mission Public Health nurse Shirley Parkinson who enlisted other volunteers and health professionals.These included Bea Stephenson, who was part of the parent mentor program; Jhalene Groth, addictions and community inclusion; and Wilda Wallace and Kim Berger.

The centre also had youth counsellor Jack Andrews in the upper level as well as a supportive living suite.

Presently there are eight volunteer board members, but the centre can accommodate up to 11, with new members always welcome. Board members are included from the areas of education, health services, ministerial association, Town of Unity, judicial sector, service groups and the community at large.

UCRC says they are grateful for additional volunteers who assist in operations such as sorting, and tidying at the centre, as well as hands-on help with fundraisers.

Biggest challenge is funding

Like many other non-profit organizations, the biggest challenge for UCRC is funding

“We are an NGO (non-government organization) and receive no government grants,” Riddell says.

“The organization relies on fundraisers and community donations to keep their services and programs in operation, as well as the Unity Donor’s Choice campaign and revenue from the clothing depot.

“Another challenge is that the community at large is often unaware that we have families in Unity with significant needs that we hope to fulfil. In addition, we are always looking for new board members to add to our diversity and provide new ideas.”

Are you aware of all the services offered at UCRC? The Main Street location includes the community’s food bank, internet access, with support and assistance in accessing online information, and the New to You clothing depot.

The Nurturing Room was created in memory of Parkinson. It offers a place for nursing moms or new moms to come and relax quietly with their infants. It is located on the second floor of the UCRC and can be accessed through the co-ordinator.

The centre has provided parenting programs, moms and tots programs, babysitting courses, first aid training and the annual “Kids Can Cook” program.

UCRC has partnered on transition programs.

“We try to work with the community to identify needs and resource funding to address the needs identified,” UCRC spokesperson and board member, Morag Riddell, says.

“We rent to programs and services that support families such as the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Autism Services, a dental therapist, Social Services, Service Canada and Venture Rehab (formerly Bourassa). We also rent out spaces for meetings or small gatherings.”

There is one full-time employee at the location during weekdays and there are a few people who will work in her place when she is away.

Biggest highlights in 15 years

One of the centre’s biggest highlights is their ability to help. Within the UCRC location, a community food bank exists, second-hand clothing, job listings and resume printing. The co-ordinator works to connect individuals with the resources they need and provides an ear to listen.

New to You is not an actual store but rather a depot of gently used clothing and other small items provided for a small fee. Items can be dropped off during business hours, Monday to Friday, by contacting Penny Mackrell, the resource centre’s co-ordinator.

Items not placed in the depot are sent to the Saskatchewan Association of Community Living, which then gives a donation to UCRC.

Residents wanting to donate items, but not want them placed in the depot, can let Penny know who will arrange for them to go directly to SACL. The service provides a viable alternative to these items ending up in the community’s landfill.

UCRC respectfully reminds residents not to leave items at either entrance, but rather drop them off during regular working hours. 

The resource centre also includes a bulletin board of larger items people are looking for or trying to sell/give away and the UCRC coordinator will arrange to have that item placed on the notification board.

“We are planning on a fall barbecue (Sept. 14). We have two annually, sponsored by AG Foods — spring and late summer and, of course, our annual Ladies' Night at the Movies. This is our 10th anniversary of Ladies’ Night, and it will be taking place on Nov. 9 this year,” says Riddell.

Generous donation received

The resource centre were recent recipients o a donation from the Canton Encampment and Odd Fellow Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, who recently closed. In June the UCRC received $13,559.60, that reflects the support of the community of Unity and surrounding areas of the Grand Lodge office and various branches of their order as Grand Secretary Nick Seneshen of  Unity served for many years while living and working in Unity.

The UCRC has four original members who are still part of the board, that include: Sandra Burns, Morag Riddell, Tomi Watt and Wilda Wallace.

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