FYCSM expands operations to Gravenhurst
Photo by Neil Etienne
The District of Muskoka community services location in Gravenhurst celebrated a major partnership with Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka May 9 as the organizations officially launched their new, combined expanded space. From left to right at the celebration were: Mayor Paisley Donaldson, FYCSM executive director Marty Rutledge, district community services commissioner Rick Williams, FYCSM board president Andrea Beatty, Coun. Sandy Cairns and Coun. Steve Clement.
GRAVENHURST - When it comes to community services, we’re all in it together.
That sense of partnership rang true this past Wednesday morning, as Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka (FYCSM) and the District of Muskoka celebrated the official opening of their new shared space in Gravenhurst.
“Our agency has wanted to be a presence in Gravenhurst for years and years, so this has just allowed us to realize that dream,” said FYCSM board president Andrea Beatty during a celebration and ceremony May 9. “We’re sure that this new space will allow us to provide better service to our clients and community partners.”
The district has operated out of the 141 Main St. location since 2008 and as far back as 18 months ago, the two organizations began planning FYCSM’s expansion to Gravenhurst and a shared space here. There is now more than 3,500 square feet of warm and welcoming space for people to access FYCSM services in town, rather than make the drive to Bracebridge, which would otherwise represent the closest service centre.
Marty Rutledge, executive director for FYCSM called it a “milestone” event for services in Gravenhurst and thanked both his own and the district staff for “pioneering” the partnership.
“This is some of the first moves we have made from our centric operations in Bracebridge and Huntsville; it has been exciting and challenging for us,” he said, explaining the impetus for the partnership was concern about two years ago the local FYCSM control would be turned to Nipissing or Simcoe County.
“Our board and our elected officials had the courage to step up when we put a fairly unusual proposal in front of the district to try to create sustainability for our agency, so we could continue to have a local presence in Muskoka.”
“This is not only a great day for us for us to be able to provide our service, this is also really symbolic of a journey we’ve been on that we think is going to create some stability for our services and keep us in the Muskoka community for well into the future,” he added.
Bracebridge district Coun. Steve Clement, who is also the community services committee’s vice-chair, was on hand and said the joint effort helps further broaden grassroots social services through Muskoka.
“Community services now has a significant presence in each of the towns and a growing number of programs growing in the townships and village sites,” he said. The Gravenhurst office will provide assistance to an approximate 300 families on Ontario Works programming, he added.
Clement said the open, accessible office will provide ample comfort and space for the district to offer its community services, such as child care or housing, as well as for FYCSM services, educational programs or community meetings.
“Access to services is a definite need for families in Muskoka. I’m sure working together we’re going to make a difference in our community,” Coun. Clement said.
“This site is central for our clients in Gravenhurst and enables the links to many of the allied services in Muskoka serving Gravenhurst,” said Sandy Cairns, district councillor from Gravenhurst and member of the community services committee, representing District Chair John Klinck.
She said with Ontario Works caseloads high in the region, “and unfortunately highest in Gravenhurst,” the expanded local services will ease pressures on other offices and better respond to the local populace.
“This is certainly a benefit to Gravenhurst,” said Mayor Paisley Donaldson. “There is the need and transportation to get to Bracebridge for some is an issue; it’s a service that’s well needed in the community.”