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WCSS shows off new building at AGM

Society enjoyed strong year financially, with $1.6M in revenue over expenses

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New Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) director Jackie Dickinson remembers a conversation she had with a client years ago, shortly after she began working as an outreach worker for the non-profit.

"I believe as an agency that you can do better," the client said, referring to the WCSS' former base in Spring Creek.

"I'm happy to stand here nine years later and say we did it," said an emotional Dickinson at the non-profit's Annual General Meeting last week from its brand-new home at Nesters.

Attendees at the June 27 meeting got a tour of the purpose-built facility at 8000 Nesters Road, which will provide WCSS—and its newly relocated Re-Use-It Centre—with a centralized base to operate from that is likely to increase traffic to the social service provider.

"Certainly, we will be keeping with the legacy of being the social resource in Whistler, and that's a huge task and one we're more than willing to take on," explained Christian Boone, chair of the WCSS board.

"We're excited to get into this new building and get things going over the next year."

The ribbon cutting caps a landmark year for WCSS. For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018, the organization counted an excess of $1,613,216 in revenue over expenses, which is more than three times the total from the previous year. That's thanks in large part to the $1,477,929 in donations and grants the society received throughout the year, easily eclipsing the $307,857 from the year before.

Sales at its Re-Use-It and Re-Build-it centres were also strong, at $1,567,486 in total revenue, an increase of 4.5 per cent from the prior year. The Re-Use-It Centre processed "an incredible" 48,124 bags of donations, Dickinson said, and both stores completed a combined 83,049 transactions during the fiscal year.

"The society is in a stable financial position and is well placed to remain so into the future," noted WCSS treasurer Shankar Raina.

Last year, the WCSS also agreed to a $1-million loan from the Resort Municipality of Whistler to assist in financing the construction of its new building that is repayable in quarterly instalments over 30 years.

The society's outreach team facilitated 2,018 one-on-one meetings with clients over the past year, which is slightly lower than the 2,024 meetings from the previous year.

"Despite there being a slightly less number ... the issues and challenges that are coming through our doors are more complex than ever," explained Dickinson.

"What we do know is that it's hard to retain affordable housing, maintain livable wages and find childcare in this community."

The primary reasons for people visiting WCSS were: mental health, financial support, and advocacy, Dickinson relayed.

The food bank, which WCSS also operates, handed out food 2,249 times over the fiscal year. Dickinson said 35 per cent of those visits were to feed children. The main reasons for visiting the food bank remain injury or illness, and an inability to make ends meet, she added.

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