FAMILY: Resources abound at Saanich Neighbourhood Place

Food security programs, parental help and child minding all part of stalwart facility in Pearkes Recreation Centre

Colleen Hobson heads swiftly from her office, past the kitchen counter brimming with fresh produce and down the hallway towards a playground alive with the shouts of preschoolers.

“I can get lost in budgeting at this time of year,” says Hobson, executive director at Saanich Neighbourhood Place. “It’s nice to take a break and enjoy the sunshine.”

Hobson is busy for good reason: SNP provides a dizzying number of family-serving programs throughout the year from its offices inside Pearkes Recreation Centre, where the District of Saanich covers rent and facility repairs.

SNP has three major program areas: children’s services, a preschool program and childminding, which is available when parents are attending workshops or receiving services.

“We’re so grateful to have the support of the municipality,” Hobson says. “We have four or five different kinds of parenting programs … and within that, we have family support workers.”

Parental training programs are available for dads and moms to help with life skills, common kids’ behavioural problems and finding ways to create better communication between parents and their little ones.

“We do some case work with families, but we’re also about service navigation, referrals, one-on-one work,” Hobson says.

Another strong facet of Saanich Neighbourhood Place is its food security programs, which help educate parents about healthy eating and how to make food go farther at home.

“We feel there are two components to food security – learning about healthy food and nutrition, but also the social networking and connections that happen over food,” Hobson says.

The organization’s Food Skills for Families program has even won an award from the Canadian Diabetes Association, who created the course.

“We have prenatal programs all the way to teen programs for 18 and 19-year-olds, as well as programs for the family unit,” Hobson says.

The space at Saanich Neighbourhood Place is also used by various community associations. Hobson stresses the benefit of collaborating with other community serive providers like Island Health, who provide a nurse each month to make immunizations for kids an easy process.

“Parents have really appreciated the convenience of that,” Hobson says.

The next big project for Saanich Neighbourhood Place includes a custom-built child care facility behind Pearkes. The organization is waiting to hear whether they’ll qualify for provincial funding, but it has already secured a $500,000 loan from the Victoria Foundation’s Vital Loans program to get started.

“We’re just waiting to find out about the provincial grant before we move forward on final design,” Hobson says.

Discover the array of programs available to families by call 250-360-1148 or visit      saanichneighbourhoodplace.com.

Did you know?

  • Many of the programs at Saanich Neighbourhood Place benefit from the participation of volunteers. Volunteers help out in the kitchen, with Family Dinner, in the playroom and in various other ways throughout the seasons. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering, email Corinne at corinne@snplace.org.
  • May is B.C. Child Care Month, which is billed as a time to recognize the importance of child care to families and to honour the work of child care providers around B.C.

editor@saanichnews.com