The first time the Terrace and District Community Service Society (TDCSS) organized a Social Club, right after the spring 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, things were a little quiet.
“Because of concerns for their health, many of our clients hadn’t really left their houses for six months. The Social Club was their first opportunity to connect,” says Melanie Sinnott, Clubs and Groups Worker for TDCSS. “The first time back we directed a lot of the conversation. Everyone sat in their chairs, two metres apart, and just talked.”
Now that the weather’s warming up and socializing is consistent week after week, the Social Club is buzzing.
“There are people shooting hoops on the basketball court, people inside playing pingpong, sharing music and eating a hot lunch. It’s great to offer that opportunity to connect, to feel included, and to feel safe. It’s something consistent in a time that’s so chaotic.”
Inclusion, integration and skill development
Sinnott has worked at TDCSS for two years, and started her current position in the midst of the pandemic.
“We’re in the old soup kitchen, and the whole building is for clubs. My co-worker and I spent a month getting it cleaned up and organized, and started welcoming clients in August 2020,” she says. “I was so excited to get started. When they posted the job, I applied within six minutes!”
In addition to the Social Club which runs twice a week, TDCSS hosts a Movie Club and two weekly Art Clubs.
“I’d love to do more sports and adventure clubs, but right now COVID-19 safety is holding us back. We’ve cut our capacity in half, so we offer clubs twice each week to give all our clients a chance to participate.”
“We do everything — painting and ink drawings, fibre arts like sewing and weaving, we sculpt with paper and clay. The Art Club lets clients explore hobbies, develop skills and find new ways to express themselves. Clients feel great pride when they complete a project.”
Every client meets with a TDCSS goal planner, and Clubs can be part of helping clients reach their goals.
“Before my current position, I’d support clients one-on-one. One of my clients had a goal to start volunteering, so once a week I’d drive him to the library to volunteer. Clubs provide a safe environment to socialize with peers, learn, be creative, grow and be included.”