The Kitimat Child Development Centre’s new executive director Marianne Hemmy has spent this fall settling into her position, taking on the responsibilities of her job while also familiarizing herself with the size and scope of the centre which has become the primary ‘go to’ social services agency in the district.
But while new to the position, Hemmy brings personal experience to the position along with having been a past board member.
“I had a child who used the centre,” Hemmy explained in noting the importance the centre plays in supporting not just the person, but the person’s family as well.
And aside from her time as a board member, Hemmy’s immediate past experience as the education manager for the Kitimat Valley Institute helped in building her knowledge of the CDC’s role in the community.
“When I saw the ad I was immediately interested,” Hemmy said of the executive director’s posting in early summer.
“I was at the point in my life where I was looking for new opportunities and a new challenge.”
She admits there’s a lot to learn, particularly because she’s taken over from Margaret Warcup who had been the centre’s executive director for the past 17 years.
Fortunately, the recruitment and orientation strategy includes Warcup working with Hemmy for three months to ease the transition.
“There’s a lot to learn,” said Hemmy indicating the executive director’s position not only takes in day-to-day operations, but also long term planning.
“Institutional memory is so key to this position,” she explained in absorbing Warcup’s information and experience.
“With the programs we are running, we have awesome staff who are very knowledgeable,” Hemmy added of the nearly 70 people on the centre’s payroll.
While the organization may have the name ‘child’ in its title, Hemmy is quick to note its services have expanded beyond that age category to become a community development centre.
“Just because someone ages out the system it doesn’t mean they no longer need assistance,” said Hemmy of children as they grow into adulthood.
“When we think of support in the community, it’s about providing wrap-around services,” she added.
One example of the centre’s expansion to assist people of all ages is its Better at Home program for senior citizens – the program supports approximately 74 seniors in various ways.
Centre board president Jo Ann Hildebrandt said it wasn’t difficult to decide that Hemmy was the best candidate.
“She was a past board member and already had an understanding of our role,” said Hildebrandt.
Aside from day-to-day operations, Hemmy will be involved in crucial next steps for the centre as it defines its services vision within the community.
Hildebrandt said a key part of the continuing evolution of the centre is developing a proposal to move certain of its services to the closed Roy Wilcox school.
To that end, the centre has submitted a $500,000 request to the provincial Ministry of Child and Family Development.
“This would really open the door for more opportunity,” said Hildebrandt of the potential of locating at the Roy Wilcox school.