Community Service Centre celebrates 50th

CEO Bill Powalinsky holds the proclamation, signed by Mayor Greg Dionne, for International Day of Persons with Disabilities. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

“It just echoes and reinforces for me the value of the agency to the community and the fact that we have made a difference.” – Bill Powalinsky

The Prince Albert Community Service Centre (CSC) held an open house on Monday to celebrate both their 50th anniversary and International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The centre, which developed in 1968, currently provides the Prince Albert Supported Employment (PASE) program, Work Preparation Centre, Budget Counselling, Guiding Future Visions, Seniors Transportation and Special Needs Transportation.

Coun. Don Cody, the Ministry of Social Service’s Joseph Swan, P.A. Northcote MLA Nicole Rancourt, Vice-Chair Arne Lindberg and CEO Bill Powalinsky made speeches at the event.

Eleanor George, who’s now on the board of directors, uses Seniors Transportation.

“I had several strokes and I was not allowed to drive anymore and (with) no family close in town, this was my alternative,” she said while enjoying an anniversary cake.

“It has made such a big difference to me. I go everywhere I want. I go to the doctor; I go shopping, you name it. I even went plant shopping this summer. They took me out of town to do that and it cost an extra buck, but boy it was worth it to do the things I used to do when I was driving.”

George was the face of Seniors Transportation’s annual fundraiser, Two Miles for Mary, in 2015.

Powalinsky said it was heartwarming having so many people there recognizing their services.

“It just echoes and reinforces for me the value of the agency to the community and the fact that we have made a difference,” he said.

He read some statistics in his speech.

According to the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability, Saskatchewan has a disability rate of 15 per cent or 116,640 identified people over 15-years-old.

Nationally, the rate is 13.7 per cent.

But, as he explained, the city has a higher number of those requiring services.

“We’re a gateway city, so people come from the north to P.A. to access services and programs so that increases the number of people receiving service and who reside in the city.”

However, he added the true number may be even higher because many aren’t reported.

“Quite often people are a little hesitant to identify their disability,” he said, many of which are “invisible disabilities.”

“We have issues around mental health, acquired brain injury, fetal alcohol syndrome, all of those are invisible, so people aren’t really aware and cognizant of the impact on disability or how many people are affected by it,” said Powalinsky.

He said CSC will continue to evolve.

This year, the province joined the world in celebrating Dec. 3 as International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

This year’s theme was empowerment and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.