Jamie Coston and Carly Wegenast hold up the new Rimbey FCSS 40th Anniversary banner. (Submitted)

Jamie Coston and Carly Wegenast hold up the new Rimbey FCSS 40th Anniversary banner. (Submitted)

Rimbey FCSS celebrates 40 years providing support for the community

With the dawning of a New Year comes a very special celebration for Rimbey FCSS.

“What we want to do for 2022 is to celebrate 40 years in our community,” said Executive Director Peggy Makofka. “We want the chance to also let the community know about our successes and the opportunities that are there for them to be involved in. For myself, I think some of the history of Rimbey FCSS is also important to have out there, too.

“It came about as a provincial initiative in 1966 called Preventive Social Services. From what I’ve learned, they were getting more concerned about the high costs of social services. So they started doing some prevention work,” she explained.

“It was the very beginning of communities trying to make resilient and safe places where people were content and had that sense of belonging and were also included.”

Makofka explained that it was also around that time that home care was really getting started, too.

“There was a group of people in our community that recognized that there was even more of a need for home care. And some of those people still live in our community today!”

Folks behind various services in the community essentially came together to provide things like home support, meals on wheels, and volunteer visitors. “Those were the very beginnings,” she said.

“They decided, ‘Let’s pull this all together and get FCSS funding for these supportive services and lets make a legal entity and form a society.

“I think they were pretty brilliant, because what they put together there has been kind of the mainstay and the reason that we have been so successful – because they set it up right in the beginning.”

Ultimately, FCSS organizations in communities partner with the provincial government for funding to deliver a wide range of services.

So looking into this milestone year, Makofka and her staff knew that 2022 had to be a year packed with special events, get-togethers and celebrations.

“We wanted to have some events, some parties – celebrations. There have also been hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who have worked with us through the years. We’ve been trying to gather some of those names, and we’ve also been gathering photos, too. We had summer students last year who made a Wall of Fame.

“Our idea is that when we go out to events, we are going to take it with us. We also made a video with some of the different events we are doing, and we’ll set that up and have that showing. People will then be able to see some of our history as well. We are excited about that!

“We also wanted a legacy piece to this – something to leave in the community – so we purchased a bench that we actually had installed this past summer. There is also a plaque on it. During one of our events – a Strawberry Tea in May – there will be an official unveiling of the bench as our legacy piece.”

Another goal through the year is to further educate the public about everything FCSS does across the community.

“We really want to feature every month a few programs that we do,” she said. “We made a calendar of all of the programs that we want to feature.”

Makofka said another fun initiative will be providing coffee for the first 40 customers at different venues around town through the year. “That will be held on the second Tuesday of the month.

“We also want to host parties in parks where we feed guests and tell them our stories. So we’ve got something planned for every month.”

Makofka pointed out that one of the things that makes for a successful non-profit is if you have a well-defined mission.

“We have a strong mission and a strong vision – we like to plan in the long-range and we are kind of self-sufficient with some of the contracts that we take on,” she explained, adding that over the years, the organization has also become better at communicating their successes.

She also pointed to their fantastic volunteer base as a key reason for the organization’s success.

“Some groups take them for granted, but not FCSS. We really don’t. We recruit them, we train them, we reward them and we appreciate them.”

Ultimately, 2022 is really also about focusing on the very supportive Rimbey community and the clients that make up the heart of FCSS.

Jamie Coston, the organization’s community programmer, noted that it’s also vital to get the younger generations more aware of everything that FCSS provides as well.

“That way, when their families need help they know (right away) to call us,” she said. “It’s a huge process watching your senior parents navigate the system. So we help seniors and we also have to help the kids and the grandkids – it’s a family thing, so we definitely want to include the whole family in the process,” she added.

Makofka agreed. “We do want to serve all ages in the community, but I think we are also experts at the ‘seniors’ care’ end of it. We do specialize in that area.”

But she agreed that is is essential that younger folks know what is available via FCSS, so when the need arises, they know they aren’t alone in providing care for a loved one.

When reflecting on the year ahead, Makofka noted that to her, one of the most special highlights will be unveiling the legacy bench. “There’s a lot of symbolism in it to me.”

She added that another exciting event will be to recognize special folks who were key in the formation of FCSS to begin with through the year, too. “We are hoping to make some special invitations.”

Coston said she’s really looking forward to the community engagement and connecting with folks.

“It’s really interesting when we get out there and have those conversations, and people say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you did this’ or ‘I’m happy to see you again! I remember when you did this for my mom’.

”It’s rewarding to hear those stories and to build those connections with people.”