Big bash in works for little known counselling centre

South Island Centre for Counselling and Training celebrates 40 years

Bill Cole and Caroline Donelle on the welcoming steps of the South Island Centre for Counselling and Training in Saanich. The centre is selling tickets to it’s 40th birthday gala on Oct. 17 at the Hotel Grand Pacific. The annual fundraiser is crucial as the centre provides counselling to all comers regardless of income level.

Small, quiet and unassuming, the South Island Centre for Counselling and Training is turning a surprising 40 years old.

There’s been a distinct lack of notoriety for the centre, which has helped 15,000 people (a safe estimate) in the Greater Victoria region, and beyond, since its 1975 inception.

Which is why this year the non-profit’s annual fundraising is going big, with jazz great Ian McDougall and friends anchoring a night of music and celebration at the Hotel Grand Pacific on Oct. 17.

“Over the years we haven’t been as well known as we’d like to be,” said  counsellor Bill Cole, who’s been with the centre since 1986. “We’re not a traditionally vocal group though we’ve been steadily seeing clients all along.”

The centre relocated from its downtown location in 1995 to its current home on the grounds of St. Luke’s Cedar Hill Anglican Church (3821A Cedar Hill Cross Rd.) in Saanich.

Cole is one of seven counsellors on staff. The centre does not turn away clients, who pay on a sliding scale. Counsellors help clients overcome grief and work through life-transitions, trauma and much more.

“Because of the confidential nature of our work it’s hard to know just what effect we’ve had [on the current generation of people] in the region but you do get letters,” Cole said. “Mostly our clients are a lot better off after they leave, sometimes significantly better.”

The upcoming gala boasts a silent auction and loads of door prizes.

McDougall and friends will play jazz greats from the 1930s and ‘40s, with a  buffet dinner. Columnist Jack Knox will MC the event.

The South Island Centre survives on small grants, and counsels children six to 18, as well as adults. There is a short wait list right now though referrals are up 40 per cent this year over last year.

Tickets to the gala are $75 and available by phone at 250-472-2851 or by email at 40thfundraiser@southislandcentre.ca. Visit southislandcentre.ca for more information.

The 40th Anniversary gala is 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17 at the Hotel Grand Pacific.

 

reporter@saanichnews.com