For 52 years, the Society for the Involvement of Good Neighbours has supported the residents of Yorkton.
SIGN’s beginnings started in 1968 when Father Paul St. Pierre, Rev. Jack Jones, Rev. William Shank, and Rev. Roland Wood felt a need for an organization to reach the community in a way that was beyond what individual churches could do.
On May 1, 1969, SIGN opened its first office with the goal “to produce the product called Community Unity - a community in which people care about people care about people,” according to its first newsletter.
The organization first offered five programs, including an Information and drop-in centre, psychological consultant services, a youth hostel, a homemakers program and a radio program. Today, the organization offers over 20 programs that include services for kids, families, adults, and counselling services.
Andrew Sedley, the executive director for SIGN, said that their goals line up now with what they were when they first started.
“SIGN provides support services to individuals and families of all different ages in Yorkton and East-Central Saskatchewan. Our organization started back in 1969, and from there, we’ve grown. We currently offer 24 different programs throughout the area; we have 130 staff that provide those services,” he said. “SIGN has always been known for having a figure on the pulse of the community,” Sedley said. “What are some of the needs we are seeing within our community, within families, or individuals, and then developing programs based on those needs.”
Before the pandemic, SIGN saw over 6,000 people access one of their services.
Sedley said that though it took some time to adapt to the pandemic, they offer all of their services, though some look different from previous years.
“We put in some virtual services, some services over the telephone, as well as some face to face when needed. We really want people to reach out so we can provide a service that works best for them.”
Sedley said that the pandemic helped them expand grow and expand their services.
“Never would we have ever thought of doing virtual services prior to the pandemic; it was always face to face,” he said. “It made us move out of our comfort zone and utilize technology more, and we’ve seen some big benefits from it. Not only have we been able to connect with people, but we are connecting with people who have never come to our doors before. We’ve been really able to expand our region, expand our supports and services to the community throughout the province and individuals who need the supports. We’ve seen some real benefits of utilizing technology. Once the pandemic is done, it will probably be another tool that we keep in our toolbox and be able to use for individuals that may not have transportation to come into the city.”
Sedley explained why he feels SIGN is important to Yorkton and the area.
“I go back to the title of our organization. The full title is Society for the Involvement of Good Neighbours, and throughout our lives, we need good neighbours. Good neighbours can help us in times of need, and that’s really what we are here for, is to be a support, to assist individuals when they are potentially going through hard times, or they are in a crisis, or they just don’t know where to go,” he said. “A lot of our work is really providing those supports so people can really succeed and feel like there being supported through whatever they may be going through as well. All of us at all times can use those extra supports, and we really see the importance of us being there for people when they need us, and to provide those supports, those guiding directions, that sort of thing to assist them with whatever they are going through.”
Sedley adds that SIGN’s success is directly attributed to the support they have received from the community, businesses and private donors.
He also added that to check out one of their services to visit their website at www.signyorkton.ca.
© Copyright Yorkton This Week