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Sylvan Lake Community Partners named number one charity

Sylvan Lake Community Partners is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year
Donna Ellerby, executive director of Sylvan Lake Community Partners. (Sylvan Lake News file photo)

Local charity organization Sylvan Lake Community Partners was named Sylvan Lake's number one charity in the Best of Sylvan Awards. 

Apart from the award, the business is also celebrating 25 years of operation. 

"It's quite amazing to be celebrating 25 years and I have been here for 20 of those years," Executive Director Donna Ellerby said. 

"It seems like forever, and yet it also seems like not that long." 

The organization was first started by a group of interested citizens who saw a need for programming for young mothers, Ellerby said. 

"They started discussing how they could meet a need that they saw and they decided to form an organization, hire a worker, and provide programming for moms and babes and they did that." 

Then, after starting, they realized there were other needs in the community as well, she added. 

"So they formed a board which was incorporated in 1999 and started offering programming. Then, in 2004, Community Partners received charity status." 

Now 25 years in, Community Partners runs 19 different programs and has a thrift store, Ellerby said. 

"We also have another program in mind that is still in development that we are hoping to start this fall that will help another demographic in the community." 

Programs and things offered by Community Partners currently include:

- Little Food Pantry: a wooden box pantry that is set up outside for after-hours access and is stocked with food items. 

- Compassion Fund: a fund that exists to give emergency financial assistance to those in our community and surrounding area with financial barriers and/or in crisis. This is a collaborative program with the local ministerial.

- Emergency Food Hampers: a collaborative program with the Sylvan Lake Food Bank, food hampers are available to those in need of food. 

- Medi-Lend: a medical equipment loan service for those needing temporary use of equipment including crutches, wheelchairs, canes, walkers and more.

- Infant/Toddler Food Bank: food and supplies for infants and toddlers including formula, diapers, baby food, and wipes.

- Personal Hygiene Bags: items such as shampoo, conditioner, hand soap, shavers, deodorant, toothpaste and other personal items. 

- Clothing for Kids: clothing for kids sizes 0 to 16. 

- Coats for Kids: a yearly seasonal program that runs from October to March. 

- Community Closet: clothing for men and women available free of charge.

- Vouchers: vouchers for items at the Thrift Store so that clients can get access to the items free of charge.

- Tools for Schools: a year-long school supply program. 

- Taxi Program: a free taxi service for people in need of transportation for any appointments or needed service locally or in Red Deer. 

- Income Tax Program for Seniors and Low-Income Individuals: a community volunteer income tax program offered free of charge. 

- Women's Hair Clinic Events: free hair clinic and manicure services are offered three times yearly in the office staffed by the beauty schools from Red Deer and manicures from local high school students taking beauty school classes. 

- Dental and Vision Assistance Program: emergency dental assistance for low-income individuals needing an extraction. 

- Rainbows: a program guiding children and teens who have suffered a loss due to death, divorce, or separation. 

- Free Family Swims and Mom and Tot Programs: families with preschool children are invited to participate in the organization's free weekly swim program. This is a winter program held between October and March.

- Diverse Adult Swim: a program for adults requiring a support worker, held once monthly from October until March. 

- Art Gallery: an art collective and gallery dedicated to exhibits, education and supporting the arts and artists in Sylvan Lake. 

- Community Christmas Hampers and Community Christmas Dinner: A collaborative program with the local churches to provide a free Christmas Dinner.

- Electronic Lending Program: laptops, cell phones, and iPads will be loaned to individuals in need of these items for a stated period of time. 

- Information and Referral: information on services, programs, and referrals to both local and governmental organizations. 

- Work Experience Individuals: programs/practicums for individuals wanting to do rotation working in a non-profit agency. 

- Community Partner's Thrift Store: the thrift store offers the community an opportunity to shop and provides a location for people to donate gently used products they no longer have a use for.  

"We've tried to hit every demographic in the community without overlapping with other services around town," Ellerby said.

All the community support has meant so much and is very appreciated, she added. 

"People donate very freely. They give their hard assets and their physical things constantly. As well, many businesses, when having a fundraiser, will include us as a recipient." 

To recognize the 25th anniversary a low-key event will be held in the fall with cake, coffee, prizes, and the opportunity to do tours of the organization. 




Sarah Baker

About the Author: Sarah Baker

I joined Black Press in March 2023 and am looking forward to sharing stories about the local communities.
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