The Ashcroft and Area Community Resource Society (CRS) began life in 1983 as the “Interagency Fellowship”, as a way of trying to solve different community projects at the grassroots level. However, the group soon realized that there were already a good many services and supports available.
“People would come to us and talk about what services they wanted to provide, and we would clarify to make sure no one else was offering it,” says CRS Chair Shirley Dobson. “If no one was, we’d write a letter of support.”
Monthly meetings attended by representatives of various community groups help in the sharing of information and the coordination of efforts. Dobson admits that the meetings can be a challenge, however.
“We hold them on the second Monday of each month, at noon at the E. Fry Society office on Bancroft,” she says, noting that the noon start time was intended to help more people attend meetings on their lunch hour. “Everyone is so short-staffed now that it’s hard to find representatives.” She adds that anyone who wants to volunteer is welcome to attend the meetings, to find out what’s going on and where they can help.
For many years now the CRS has coordinated the annual Christmas Food Hamper project. “There were many groups and individuals providing Christmas hampers on their own,” says Dobson, noting that the rather haphazard approach meant that some people got overlooked. “We felt it would be better if everyone could support one group doing it, so that no one got missed.”
The group takes over the Community Hall in Ashcroft for several days each December, coordinating the donations from schools, organizations, businesses, and individuals, and preparing hundreds of hampers. “We’re the central point for anyone doing food drives.” The CRS collects information about what people need, and ensures that every hamper has a turkey, stuffing mix, potatoes, and vegetables: everything needed for a traditional Christmas dinner. They also provide tinned and dry goods to supplement the recipients while the Food Bank is closed over the holidays.
The CRS has also held workshops in the past, on such subjects as elder abuse, nutrition, and fraud. They also produced a resource guide, listing contact information for hundreds of groups, organizations, and services available in the area. It’s available online at http://www.ashcroftcrsdirectory.ca/Directory_Search.aspx?RD=1.
“The CRS is meant to get and support people from all walks of life,” says Dobson. “Anyone who has a service to offer is welcome to come to our meetings.”