BONNYVILLE/COLD LAKE – For 41 years, Lakeland woman, children and seniors facing family violence have found support, compassion and understanding through the Dr. Margaret Savage Crisis Centre Society (DMSCC).
But by 2023, the well-known non-profit crisis centre based out of Bonnyville and Cold Lake will operate under a new organizational name – Stepping Stones Crisis Society.
The change in name reflects the natural growth of programs – and steps – offered by the crisis centre and the continuum of care provided to victims and survivors of family violence, according to Cindy Yang, the organization’s director of strategic priorities.
“The rebranding will happen in stages and is expected to be completed by late December 2022,” states Yang.
Existing programs, including emergency residential shelter, 24/7 Helpline, second stage housing program, community support services and community programming, will not be disrupted or impacted as the society takes steps into rolling out its new name.
Stepping Stones Crisis Society, formerly DMSCC, will remain committed to its founding mission – prevention of family violence through public awareness, outreach and client support.
“Dr. Ella Margaret Savage’s legacy with our shelter is an important one and she will always be an important anchor in the history of our organization,” said Susan White, executive director for Stepping Stones Crisis Society.
“Her forward-thinking vision and advocacy continues to inspire us, and we’re proud to be able to continue her legacy today. We will continue to honour her namesake through Ella’s Closet, one of our two social enterprises that supports our fundraising efforts through community donations to support the continued growth of our programs and services.”
The society has been in operation since 1981, first offering safe and secure shelter and supports to women and children in crisis to address “battered women,” an issue identified in 1979 by the Grand Kinosoo Community Council of Concerned Citizens, the Four C’ers, according to historical information on the society’s website.
“The centre itself opened in September of 1982 and was run on a volunteer basis until March 1983 when staff were hired,” states the website.
The shelter was later registered with the provincial government in March 1993.
The work, accomplishments and character of Dr. Savage, who passed away prior to the opening of the crisis centre, on May 9, 1970, was commemorated through the naming of the society.
Savage graduated from medical school in 1929 and was the only woman in the University of Western Ontario Medical School graduating class. She was the third female graduate of the medical school.
“She moved to Cold Lake in the mid 1940’s. Appointed by the Women’s Missionary Society as a doctor to John Neil Hospital, Dr. Savage’s practice included Cold Lake, Grand Centre, Riverhurst, Ethel Lake, Beaver Crossing, Cherry Grove, Elizabeth (Métis) Settlement, Le Goff Reserve and Pierceland, Sask.,” states the society’s website.
Looking to the future, Stepping Stones Crisis Society is excited to step into the next chapter while its staff continue to strive to offer the best possible services and supports to clients and the Lakeland community, Yang adds.