July 16th, 2024

City seeking members for new Community Wellbeing Advisory Board

By Lethbridge Herald on June 15, 2024.

Delon Shurtz

The City of Lethbridge is looking for community minded individuals to sit on a new board tasked with promoting wellbeing and making recommendations on how federal and provincial grants should be allocated.

Andrew Malcolm, general manager of community social development for the city, made the announcement Thursday from City Hall, and said the new Community Wellbeing Advisory Board (CWAB) is seeking people, including a significant number from the indigenous community, to fill several voting positions.

“We are looking now for nine individuals from the community to form this board, who will help us understand the community needs, specifically around funding disbursement around wellbeing that comes from our federal Reaching Home and our provincial Family and Community Support Services or FCCS funding,” Malcolm said.

Reaching Home is the Government of Canada’s community based homelessness strategy aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness, while FCSS is an 80/20 funding partnership between the Government of Alberta and the City of Lethbridge to ensure that preventive and early intervention social services can be accessed by citizens in need.

“This board will be instrumental in assisting the City of Lethbridge in the distribution of these funds into the community, making sure that those funds go to the most appropriate organizations who are addressing the city’s most important gaps in our social service sectors, specifically those gaps that are identified in our recently approved Community Wellbeing and Safety Strategy.”

Individuals interested in becoming a board member can attend a virtual information session at 6 p.m. on June 24 at 6 p.m. The online application form and additional CWAB information can be found at lethbridge.ca/csd. Applications close on July 11.

The city will also actively seek board members as part of a targeted campaign, and approach community leaders who can recommend individuals they feel would be a good fit on the board.

“Specifically we want to focus on indigenous individuals in the community,” Malcolm said. “It’s really important that we have the indigenous voice as part of this advisory board, specifically because we have a contractual obligation to ensure that voice is representative for the indigenous stream of Reaching Home. But more important than that, it’s the right thing to do in making sure that a very visible group in our community is supported and that the dollars that we have are going toward things that can help everyone in our community”

Malcolm said the city receives about $5 million annually from the senior levels of government, which must go toward any number of services and organizations that fall under the FCSS and Reaching Home umbrellas.

The Nord-Bridge Senior Centre’s shuttle bus and the University of Lethbridge’s Building Brains program are but two examples of many that fall under the FCSS umbrella. Under Reaching Home there are a number of population support navigators who are funded by the Blood Tribe Department of Health at the homeless shelter, and there is the Blackfoot resource hub, which is funded through Blood Tribe administration, and provides culturally appropriate resources for all the different agencies in the community working with individuals who are homeless.

“Between those two funding sources we’re probably looking at between 12 and 18 different organizations and programs that ultimately receive funding.”

The City of Lethbridge’s next funding distribution process will be through a Call for Proposal, and organizations can apply now by going online and completing the Community Wellbeing Call for Proposal 2024. Call for Proposals closes on July 31.

Malcolm said one of the new board’s first orders of business after orientation will be to review the Call for Proposals in August and September.

“Ultimately once the new advisory board makes their recommendations, administration will enter into contracts with those organizations and service delivery will start in the new year.”

Cyndi Bester, CEO of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce and current serving advisory board member, says community volunteerism is an accessible and powerful way to support friends and neighbours.

“Serving the community in a way that directly impacts the kinds of wellbeing-focused resources and programs we have available in Lethbridge is an incredible opportunity,” Bester said. “There is no better way to connect and contribute to your community than by volunteering your time and energy. It’s a rewarding experience and one that really brings equal benefit to both the volunteer and to your fellow residents.”

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