It all started with a plea for domestic violence support in Humboldt.
Fifteen years later, PARTNERS Family Services celebrated their achievements with a reception on Feb. 25.
At the event were guest speakers Mayor Malcolm Eaton and Tracey Mitchell, Mental Health Peer Mentor and Next Up Saskatoon co-ordinator. As well, past and present members of the PARTNERS Board of
Directors were honoured with a gift.
Deborah Bryson-Sarauer, the current board Secretary, was the one that took that call fifteen years ago along with four other members of the community to get PARTNERS for Rural Family Support off the ground.
“I felt really helpless for the woman who called me because we didn’t have services in Humboldt for her.”
Bryson-Sarauer started talking to people about what they would do in situations like that. All of them said they wouldn’t know what to do.
From finding the problem came finding solutions, says Bryson-Sarauer.
“People wanted to help but they didn’t know how.”
What started from that phone call was a support group that had 13 women sign up within two hours of Bryson-Sarauer deciding to start the group.
Eaton brought his PARTNERS folder to the celebration, a very thick folder. When someone has a folder that thick in the mayor’s office, they are either doing a lot of good or they are a problem.
The folder showed the heavy lifting and hard work that PARTNERS staff and board members are doing to address difficult issues, like domestic violence, bullying, and harassment.
“They’ve become the go to resource in the community and that’s very important.” Says Eaton.
They are a part of the Saskatoon Health Region and the social services region that operates out of Saskatoon, but all those services are an hour away, says Eaton.
“We really have needed, all these years, and that’s the role that PARTNERS has played, the local social services, resources, local supports for families and individuals.”
In rural Saskatchewan, domestic violence was not something that people talked about.
“We are very good in rural Saskatchewan for keeping secrets, and it’s easier here to keep secrets despite the fact that everyone says you can’t do anything around here without everybody in the whole town knowing about it. That’s not true,” says Bryson-Sarauer.
That is one thing that Bryson-Sarauer says PARTNERS has changed in their time in Humboldt: it is okay not to have this secret.
“It’s okay to go to PARTNERS. Not everyone likes to go there, no one wants to go there but it’s okay to talk about the problems in our community.”
The variety of board members that PARTNERS has had over the years has provided numerous ideas for services to provide to Humboldt.
These board members have been amazing over the years, says Bryson-Sarauer.
“You come in, you do your work, they use your skills and your gifts. And when your time is done, someone comes in with a new skill set that might be better and might take it to the next step.”
When Bryson-Sarauer started the domestic violence group, that is all she was planning on doing. It was the other people she talked to that said, ‘that’s not good enough. We need better services here.’
“The hospital people wanted to help, the RCMP wanted to help. We wanted to serve our clients.”
Thinking bigger was something that all board members brought to the 15 years of PARTNERS.
“If it was just up to one person, it wouldn’t look like this,” says Bryson-Sarauer.
Mitchell was the guest speaker for the evening and spoke about what it takes to get programs like PARTNERS up and running. It does not take people with PhDs and really outgoing people, says Mitchell, but people willing to put the time and energy into it.
“Regardless of any of that, the biggest thing I think is to just start and people have to be willing to try something.”
Thanking people and making people feel like they are making a difference is a big part of keeping volunteers involved in an organization, says Mitchell.
Fifteen years of PARTNERS Family Services Board Members
(list provided by PARTNERS):
Rev. Brenda Curtis