February 25 – If it weren’t for community support, the Markham-Stouffville Crisis Pregnancy Centre (MSCPC) would not be standing today – or able to help those who need it most. 2016 was a groundbreaking year for the non-profit organization who saw their clientele double, their debt disappear, their storage space quadruple, and the face of their organization change.

The MSCPC held their Annual General Meeting Feb. 25 at The Bridge Community Church in Markham where they discussed changes, challenges and triumphs in areas ranging from communications and staffing to increasingly complex client needs.

Executive Director, Janice Russell has spent the past year building a team base with specific skills and expertise in dealing with the varying needs of new immigrants and single Mothers who utilize their services daily. They have also seen a tremendous spike in volunteer participation that includes a new placement student within social work.

MSCPC has plans to launch an information group for immigrants and refugees. Similar to York Region Public Health and other community partners, they work hard to assist clients that are new to the country, ensuring they are connected with the financial and social services they need.

As for the adoption of a freshened approach – the MSCPC have rebranded themselves with a new logo, website, business cards, signage and a Facebook page. The more professional and efficient their marketing and social media presence is the better they can grow their network of support and sponsors in the community.

“That’s hugely on my plate for the next year, the networking, the community strengthening their awareness, the support – because we can’t do it alone. We need so much of the community resources and support to care for our clients because they are in such need. We’re networking more and more with organizations that have the availability to provide some of the resources for our clients that are new to the country and where English is their second language.”

–              Janice Russell RN, Executive Director at MSCPC

The centre has also seen an increase in practical needs for the clients, accounting for the 400 percent increase in volunteers who help sort, fold, and make baskets for new Moms, “a real blessing”. None were recruited, and all joined after offering their services, including a new Mom on maternity leave who takes clothes home to sort, fold and organize.

Some of the free and confidential services provided by the MSCPC to new and soon to be Moms (and Dads) in the Markham-Stouffville area are:

  • Practical Support (baby care items, clothing, food, supplies, toiletries, gift cards, strollers etc.)
  • Emotional Support
  • Option Counselling
  • Post-Abortion Support
  • Educational Materials
  • Adoption Referrals
  • Moms and Tots drop in program
  • In-Class School Presentations on STDs, Healthy Decision Making and Teen Pregnancy

Newly appointed Client Services Director, Cheryl Lindquist used to run the Moms and Tots program and works as a Doula in her spare time. She spoke about their annual fundraising efforts, which includes the recently launched Barn Raising event which last year brought $10, 436 in proceeds.

The next event, which is partnered with Forsythe Farms and supported by various local business sponsors and volunteers is set to take place June 17. Other fundraising activities by the centre include the Moms and Tots sale and the Baby Bottle Campaign which also raised over $10,000 last year.

Treasurer, Anthony Kelly reported an increase in fundraising revenue of $36, 800 bringing the MSCPC to a positive ending balance of $17, 008 in 2016. The group is now hoping to see membership grow by 50% and working with a financial team to ensure that they have the financial resources to make that happen.

For more information on how to support the MSCPC: www.mscpc.ca