When the Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) welcomes a new executive director this month, it will be a face already familiar to the organization and the community at large.
Last week, the social-service provider announced that it had hired longtime WCSS staffer Jackie Dickinson to replace outgoing director Cheryl Skribe. Dickinson comes with almost 10 years of experience in the organization, first as an alcohol and drug educator, then as an outreach worker, before landing the outreach program coordinator position two years ago.
"Jackie understands what's going on in the community," said WCSS board chair Christian Boone. "(Because of) her role with the outreach program and being program manager, she understands all the issues we're facing in terms of housing, affordability and what we see walking through our doors. The fact that she's been 10 years with our organization, she's a natural fit to take that over."
Dickinson comes to the role at a time of transition for both the community and the WCSS, which is set to relocate its social services and Re-Use-It Centre to a new, purpose-built facility on Nesters Road next month.
"Being village-central, we're going to be able to serve people in a way that maybe we weren't able to do before, and that's really exciting," said Dickinson, who added that the organization is forecasting an increase in demand for service at the new location. "Our goal is that, when people come in, they leave feeling better than when they first walked in, and I think we'll be able to continue to achieve that in a new building location."
With the unique insights she gained as a frontline worker, Dickinson said her goal as director will be to "share the challenges that our community faces at a very root level."
"We're really only able to do the work we do because of the people who shop in our stores, the people who support our recycling programs, and the people who walk through our doors and say, 'I need help,'" she added. "They trust us with that, so we have a really important responsibility to create programming and support change that really represents their thoughts and their beliefs. I'm really excited to do that and I think we've always done it, but as a leader of this organization, that's definitely what I'm committed to continuing to do."
Dickinson's first day on the job will be Monday, May 28, and one of her first tasks will be to hire her replacement for the outreach program coordinator position.
The organization is also looking to hire an outreach worker as it increases its roster of outreach counsellors from three to five. The job listing can be found at mywcss.org.