Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau50 Years

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Member Spotlights

Welcome to our Member Spotlight Page. This special feature showcases GPVSB’s most valuable assets– our members! Spotlighting members from across the GPVSB spectrum. Our revamped Member Spotlight reflects the rich tapestry of our membership and Highlights information about our outstanding members.   For a complete list of current GPVSB Members click HERE.   Not a Member - join GPVSB today! Click here! for membership information.

Interested in more information or Volunteering with a featured GPVSB Member? Contact agencies directly or visit their website for more details.

*Information gathered for the Member Spotlights is obtained from the respective Agencies.


 

Bear Creek Funeral Home

Gift of Time

By Bryanna Webb and Rachael Rode, Communication Specialists

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Bear Creek Funeral Home is the first corporate member of Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau as of 2015, so we were excited to interview this distinct member of GPVSB. We sat down with Eunice Kuill Friesen and Heather Gallagher-Rowe who are the Owner and Attendant at the funeral service, respectively. Although we weren’t sure what to expect when interviewing this specific type of business, we were more than pleasantly surprised by the extraordinary vision the staff have for individuals, families, and the community.

At Bear Creek Funeral Home, the staff’s number one priority is caring for families. This includes funeral planning, meeting their clients where they’re at, and aiding in the healing process. “We’re a part of Grande Prairie, and Grande Prairie is a part of us,” Friesen said, speaking of their involvement at a local level. However, they serve the entire Peace Region including Grande Cache, Fox Creek and Fairview. They are even active internationally. “Because of our mobile society there are a lot of people who die away from home,” Friesen explained. “If need be we will organize the services, and in that case, we work in conjunction with a funeral service provider in the other country, to get the family’s needs met.”

Nevertheless, Grande Prairie is Bear Creek Funeral Home’s primary focus. They became a member of GPVSB because the community is of high importance at the funeral service, evident in the copious amount of volunteer work they do as individuals and as a corporation. Death Café and Good Grief are both monthly group meetings that the funeral home runs, which are open to the public for individuals to share their stories, their thoughts and their grief. Support groups such as these are essential for the wellbeing of a community. As for supportive roles, Bear Creek Funeral Home staff volunteer time with the Hospice Palliative Care Society, Tiny Hands of Hope, Swinging with the Stars for the hospital foundation, Grande Prairie Live theatre, Suicide Prevention Resource, the Street Performers’ Festival, the Century Play, and the Relay for Life . . . “Just to name a few,” concluded Friesen. “A lot of companies give of their money and we do as much as we can, of course, but we know that the gift of time to an organization is as valuable as the gift of finances.” The time Bear Creek Funeral Home gives in our community may not be publicized, but it has deeply benefitted the individuals and organizations involved.

Friesen asserted that we needed to talk about Petey, their “comfort dog”. “We rescued him from a rescue shelter two weeks ago,” explained Friesen. It’s clear already that Petey is a perfect fit for the family at Bear Creek Funeral Home. The goal is for him to become a certified therapy dog.

 

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More innovations are forthcoming and have already been achieved by Bear Creek Funeral Home. They currently utilize social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. “We were the first Funeral home in the Peace Country to use social media,” Friesen noted. “We’re going to redefine the standard funeral service in Grande Prairie.” And indeed they have. Friesen described how their services are family-centered, concerned with providing a unique and individual experience. For example, the services they organize can include live bands and other personalized customizations, such as placing the deceased’s motorcycle where the casket would traditionally go. The aim is to help family and friends remember and celebrate their loved one through the grieving, and healing, process.

Although Friesen explained how crying can be beneficial, she also believes in the healing role of laughter. Bear Creek Funeral Home is far from the traditional gloomy image of a funeral service corporation. “We don’t just do death, we do life too,” Friesen stated. The simple phrase definitely encompasses the big heart Bear Creek Funeral Home has for their clients and the community at large. The staff at this funeral service sets an excellent example of how to make an impact in the community by both giving of your time and treasuring the time you have with loved ones.

If you’d like to know more about Bear Creek Funeral Home and get involved, you can contact Eunice Friesen at 780-830-7743, drop by their office at #103, 10920 – 84 Ave, or visit them online on their Facebook page. 

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Pregnant and Parenting Teens

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A Lasting Impact

By Rachael Rode, Communications Specialist


The Society for Support to Pregnant and Parenting Teens has been involved in the community of Grande Prairie for thirty years. Although they only joined GPVSB in 2012, Melodie McCracken, their Executive Director, affirmed that Pregnant and Parenting Teens has been in partnership with the Bureau for more than ten years. McCracken herself is a former member of the GPVSB Board—and a former client of the Pregnant and Parenting Teens program.

In fact, the cyclical nature of the program is one of its most outstanding features. “I’ve seen it for my own benefit, but also for numerous families,” McCracken said, explaining that many past and current board members were clients of the program at one point. “The families that come in . . . come back and tell us the impact the program has made,” McCracken explained. “There’s nothing stronger than testimonials.” One major volunteer who helped out in Pregnant and Parenting Teens’ Playhouse Raffle was a client of the program from seven years ago. Currently, she is working on her university teaching degree.  There are many success stories related to the program.  “It’s always hard to define success; it can be so many different things,” McCracken said.  “It can be that stay-at-home mom whose children are thriving, that engaged employee who contributes back to their community, or that [successful] business owner.” The various ways the program has impacted its clients are diverse, but the support Pregnant and Parenting Teens offers to participants always benefits and improves their lives.

Now, McCracken’s role as Executive Director is to support the staff, the board and community to create effective programs for families. “We work with young parents, under the age of 20, to support them in making healthy choices around their pregnancy,” McCracken stated, “so they can leave our program and transition into the community successfully.” Components of this support include knowledge about parenting, life skills and more. Of course this support can’t be provided without volunteers. Most volunteers work in childcare, but also they can serve on fundraising committees. After the summer, the program is expanding volunteer opportunities to data entry and organizing donations.

In childcare, volunteers are surveyed for suitability, and their skillset is assessed. The program wants to accurately match volunteer abilities with the area of engagement they are interested in. After screening, orientation is provided. Additionally, supplemental training can be provided, such as a baby signs class. “Any staff development that’s related to helping them in their role, we try to invite volunteers to do as well,” McCracken stated.
The program’s current goals include being more inclusive towards the transient community of Grande Prairie, and building a trustworthy reputation to bridge the gap to potential clients who may be apprehensive. Additionally, they want to obtain more funding to provide more father support.

“Our families come from all different walks of life,” McCracken said in summary. “Unplanned pregnancy isn’t necessarily the worst road a person can take, but it’s not the easiest of journeys either.” The Pregnant and Parenting Teens program exists because with support, these families can thrive. And that can only happen through the volunteering spirit of community members.

If you’d like to get involved with the program, the best way is to call at 780-538-3854, but you can also message them on Facebook. Don’t hesitate to make a lasting difference in the lives of pregnant and parenting youth.
 

 

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Disclaimer of Liability: This page contains links to third-party service provider websites. Grande Prairie Volunteer Services Bureau is not responsible and assumes no liability for the content or materials available on any linked third-party sites.

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