ST. PAUL – It was sight akin to a busy market, yet rather than shops and their keepers, or vendors selling their goods, there were booths representing over 55 organizations showcasing the activities and services they offer within the community of St. Paul.
The St. Paul Recreation Centre echoed with buzzing excitement on Sept. 14, as the booths made the spaces a tad bit narrow, but wide enough for people to walk through in curiosity and intrigue.
“I'm just really excited about the fact that so many organizations have chosen to come back out and interact with the community,” said Lynn Smid, Director of St. Paul FCSS, shortly after chatting with another thrilled visitor. “And likewise, community members who have come out and interacted with the various organizations.”
Matthew Hurtubise is a representative with Northeast Athletic Track Club (NEAT) and was among the many groups promoting sports at Community Awareness Night. According to Hurtubise, NEAT is a local track club that has been running for almost 30 years. He is proud of the club’s accomplishments, as many athletes including Hurtubise himself, have been successful competing at the provincial level.
St. Paul Minor Ball offers youth a chance to learn and play baseball and softball. Chantal Sadlowski, marketing director with Minor Ball, says people can stay tuned for when the association’s registration opens in 2023.
Cal Leckie, instructor at the St. Paul Karate-Do, was easily spotted by the gi he dons. Leckie is motivated to invite youth as young as four years old to begin learning the art of karate, while also learning courage, self-defence, and self-discipline.
“We've lost a couple of years with COVID, so it has kind of been a slow start this year,” admits Lecki. “But, we are getting back on track and we're getting quite a few new students coming in.”
Leadership and training
The St. Paul Army Cadets also came out to offer outdoor activities and adventures to youth, according to Angela Whiskeyjack with the cadets. Whiskeyjack says the cadets also, “teach people ages 12-19 about leadership.”
Lavina Boysis, who is also Whiskeyjack’s mother, who is one of the parents who support the group, she says there are no fees and all they ask for is parent involvement.
Toastmasters International, an international club, was also present to offer interested individuals the opportunity to acquire leadership skills, as well as those seeking to improve their speech and command over the English language. Eunhye Cho, a representative with the club says, “What I’m representing tonight is an online club that meets once every first and third Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m.”
She says other opportunities the club offers include helping people who are trying to improve their presentation skills, or even those who need to do a speech at events like weddings.
The Capella Centre, which operates the Colombus House of Hope family and women’s shelter in St. Paul, was also present to let the community know they are available to help women experiencing domestic violence.
Mary Musa, with the Capella, says the organization has a crisis line that is open to the community 24/7. “There’s help… they’re not alone when dealing with domestic violence,” she says.
Lakeland Centre for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (LCFASD) is non-profit that provides free programs and services to persons affected by FASD. The group was on hand to promote services and resources they offer, says Mackenzie Hodinsky, referral coordinator for LCFASD.
Hodinsky says they offer support to women who are pregnant or who are at risk of getting pregnant that live a high-risk lifestyle involving drugs and alcohol use.
Christina Williams, with the LCFASD, says the organization offers different programs “where we do prevention” like their women’s recovery and mothers-to-be mentorship program. She adds, “Intervention is anything, we have transition supports, employment supports, counseling."
The Girl Guides of Canada St. Paul (GGC) is another group that strives to give “power to girls” and helps girls become “women leaders,” according to Sarah Weimer with GGC St. Paul. GGC help guide girls ages five to 17, and has different approaches based on age groups.
Weimer is also one of GGCs “Sparks” leaders, guiding girls who are five and six years old. “They learn about the world, about themselves while empowering each other and making friendships throughout all the different groups we have.”
She adds, “This is important because women need to raise our young girls to be strong, independent women, who can take on those leadership roles and can fight for what is right and what they believe in."