Good Neighbours Week has been declared for the week of May 5 to 11 in the City.
The request for the declaration was made by Jerome Niezgoda chair of the SIGN Board of Directors at the regular meeting of Yorkton Council Monday.
In making the request Niezgoda provide a brief look at the long history of SIGN in the City.
“Back in 1968, a group of Yorkton clergy decided to form a new type of organization in our community, an organization that would assist people with their social needs and their needs for assistance in areas that were not readily available at that time. They took on an initiative that was truly ahead of its time. They called it the Society for the Involvement of Good Neighbours, or SIGN for short,” he said.
“Its purpose was to reach the community in a way that was beyond what individual churches could do. They recognized there was a need to promote co-operation among churches, service clubs, other organizations throughout the community, businesses and interested individuals.”
Niezgoda said no one could have foreseen the growth and longevity that would follow for the organization.
“Today, SIGN provides more than two dozen important community and social services to children and adults in Yorkton and east-central Saskatchewan,” he said.
To carry out the work SIGN derives “funding from contracts to provide services on behalf of governments, from private donations, fund-raising projects, business donations, the city of Yorkton, and service clubs. But in the early years, it was Yorkton churches and several national religious organizations that made possible the work of SIGN,” said Niezgoda.
Programming continues to evolve.
“In more recent years, we were instrumental in starting a free walk-in mental health counselling program, which in the provincial budget this spring was recognized by the government as worthy not only of funding for the existing locations, but which will be expanded to many more communities,” said Niezgoda.
“The Family Resource Centre, which is now part of SIGN, is also recognized as providing leading-edge programming for young parents and children.
“SIGN’s programs today deal with a wide range of topics as we assist youth, families and adults. We operate programs to teach life skills to youth, before and after school programs at four schools, an adolescent group home, and a childcare and early learning facility.”
SIGN also operates a family resource centre for parents and kids in Yorkton and Kamsack, assists parents through Triple P – the Positive Parenting Program, and assists in family support and preservation, including Kids First, a voluntary in-home visitation program.
Many more challenges remain and are on our agenda for the coming years, said Niezgoda.
“Homelessness was largely a hidden problem, but various circumstances, including the lack of intercity bus service, means that it is fast becoming a visible problem in our community and region,” he said.
“Homeless shelters were seen as a solution, but that too, is changing. A shelter is temporary, and while it provides a place to sleep, it does not tackle the larger problems that affect the homeless. We need to think about finding people a place to live, a place to set down roots, so they know they have a safe, permanent home. And then we can start to tackle the other issues that led to their homelessness in the first place.”
Niezgoda said SIGN remains dedicated to filling needs as they arise.
“Even after 50 years, we can never rest on our laurels as we respond to emerging issues and new challenges,” he said.