Valerie MacLean, the Sunshine Coast Community Services Society’s executive director, although new to her position, is no stranger to our area. In fact her roots in the community go very deep.
“I came here as a child. My son went to Camp Elphinstone. I love it here,” she exclaimed.
And she loves her new position with the premier organization serving social needs on the Coast. Valerie has been a non-profit executive for more than 20 years. If you’re wondering where you’ve heard her name before, it’s probably from the 12 years she headed the Better Business Bureau in Vancouver.
In her capacity with the BBB she served as spokesperson, partnered with many different agencies, and frequently made presentations throughout B.C., and in the media.
A vibrant, warm person who loves to laugh, Valerie is amazed at the number and breadth of the programs Community Services deliver to the community.
“With 40 key programs operated directly by our employees, and a dozen others in which we partner with agencies like the Arrowhead Centre Society and the Community Resource Centre,” she said, “one of the best parts of the job so far has been meeting and getting to know the many people who work and volunteer for our organization!”
“Many people think we’re a government agency, but we are not,” Valerie stressed.
“Although our major funder is the provincial government, we rely on the support of our community to go above and beyond the basics. As an example, thanks to community generosity, last year the Food Bank distributed more than 12,000 bags of food. And of course, without volunteers our level of service in the Food Bank just wouldn’t be possible!” A 10 member Board of Directors oversees the Society, headed by president Helen Carkner and including local residents Tom Sinclair, Karen Archer, Gloria Lifton, Jason Hall, Sue Lowell, Sue Anne Linde, Lydia Drasic, Dr. Kay Wotton and Christine Chandler.
The group brings invaluable talents to the Society ranging from information technology expertise to finance to community health.
The people who work here do so because they believe in what we do. They are our greatest asset – the staff is priceless.
Reporting to Valerie are seven leaders each responsible for many staff members. Patrice Pollack heads up child development services, while other directors include Keely Halward (together against violence); Ron Depner (family and youth services); Naomi Fleschhut (community in action); Elfie Hofmann (human resources); Petra Haas (finance); and the newest member of the team Nancy Tiffin (communication and development).
Valerie is in awe of the many people serving the needs of Coast residents.
“The people who work here do so because they believe in what we do. They are our greatest asset – the staff is priceless,” she stated.
Community Services has many different sites hosting programs. Some of them, such as the Community Treasures Thrift Shop in Gibsons, whose revenues support programs, are housed in buildings owned by the Society. Others are located in venues such as the Gibsons and District Community Centre. The purchase of the main building on Inlet Avenue in Sechelt was the result of a gutsy move by longtime executive director Vicki Dobbyn, who retired two years ago, and the Board of the day.
For 40 years Community Services has been on the ground serving the needs of special people in every area on our Sunshine Coast. There will likely never be a time when Community Services isn’t needed. Valerie’s mandate is to ensure that services are delivered in a timely and financially responsible manner while staying true to the Society’s mission of Creating a Caring Community.
“I am so proud to be part of an organization here on the Coast that successfully serves our community, from infants to seniors,” she said.