Society of Hope marks 25th anniversary

The society’s goals were modest at first, but it soon grew to include housing, daycare and employment for single parent families.

Concerned about the number of single parent families that Luke and Anne Stack personally knew, they pulled together a small group of faith-based people in 1989 under the banner of  ‘The Society of Hope’ to see where they could help.

Luke, with a degree in business, brought organizational skills to the new group while Anne was involved in every stage of planning and delivering supports for women and children.

Soon thereafter, Ken and Barb Zeitner moved their family from Edmonton to join the team and have been pillars of the society ever since. Ken has served as the general manager of finance and administration for 24 years.

The society’s goals were modest at first, but it soon grew to include housing, daycare and employment for single parent families. An early initiative was to renovate and open a short term housing facility on Ethel Street in central Kelowna. With thousands of hours of sweat equity and a $30,000 grant from the City of Kelowna, the group was on its way.

Since those early days, the Society of Hope has grown to become the largest non-profit housing provider in the Interior of BC. Today, the group operates 490 housing units with 70 new units slated to begin construction October 2014.

The Society of Hope has focused on providing quality affordable housing. It serves three primary groups—families, seniors and women in transition. The society has six family townhouse sites stretching from the District of Lake Country to Peachland. It also operates six senior housing sites. The Apple Valley project near Orchard Park serves as its flagship.

Most new housing programs focus on one-time capital grants rather than on-going subsidies to lower the rents. The Society of Hope provides reduced rents to qualified tenants by adding some market rents into new projects. Many rents are set at 30 per cent of a person’s income.

It is important to understand what quality housing means to the Society of Hope and its staff members. The group has always insisted on caring for its properties. “These are people’s homes. We want all residents, whether they are subsidized or paying market rent, to be proud of where they live.” says executive director Luke Stack.

The society’s property management and administrative team takes pride in their work. The society does its own maintenance, lawn care and repairs. As the portfolio of homes has expanded maintenance and repair has become a very important job.

The group could not have accomplished what it has without strong community partnerships with BC Housing, CMHC, The Real Estate Foundation of BC, the City of Kelowna, and the District of Lake Country. There have also been some key benefactors who have strengthened the society. The Ziglar Recreation and Senior Support Centre is named after such benefactors—Gordon and Helen Ziglar.

With an invigorated board, long serving staff members and strong partners, the society is more focused on the future than ever before.

“The new 70-unit Pleasantvale project is now underway and we are ready to expand Apple Valley by 78 new units,” says Lorne Gerber, the society’s president.

The strategic plan challenges the society to reach 700 housing units by 2017.

Please join in for The Society of Hope’s 25th anniversary, have a bite to eat, and celebrate with members on Sept. 25, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

There will be an official welcome at 4:30 p.m. at 101-2055 Benvoulin Court, Kelowna.

For more information contactthe administrator at 250-862-8233, email l.monster@shaw.ca.

 

Kelowna Capital News