The Men’s Centre’s History
In the first week of the new centre’s opening, volunteers had been scheduled to ‘man’ the front desk. Unfortunately, neither the volunteers nor clients showed up. Despite that early challenge, the centre has slowly built up a solid and reliable base of about 60-75 volunteers over the years. A heady mix of unique programs, aimed at all aspects of being masculine, along with a steady stream of clients has emerged as word spread about the services offered by The Men’s Centre. “We have experimented and established some programs which are not offered anywhere in BC, or for that matter anywhere in Canada,” said Boere.
The funding over the last decade has come from a variety of sources including the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island (previously known as the Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children), the Vancouver Foundation, the Law Foundation of BC, the United Way, a large array of smaller foundations from across Canada, and local service clubs, individual donations, and a variety of Federal, Provincial, and Municipal funding. Unfortunately the main source of funding has become Provincial Gaming funds and this makes the center much too dependent on the whims of any current government. Having noted that, the position of the board is that funding for services for men should be primarily a provincial Government responsibility, as it is in other provinces, and as long as services for women are funded by the provincial government, so should services for men. Currently that provincial funding sits at a disparity of about 100:1.
From 2002 until about 2008, the funding and programs increased exponentially as people discovered what the center provided, and started taking advantage of the resources we offered. Then the provincial government decided to slash funding by 60% and the center almost perished. The staff and programs were devastated but through the dedication and loyalty of the staff and volunteers it survived. Most of the paid staff continued working without pay for the better part of that first year. Without that generosity from those staff and volunteers the center would certainly have had to close its doors.
The center is doing a little better now. Funding has crept up to 54% of what it once was, through improvements and improvisation, better ways were found to deliver some the services through cheaper methods. Most services are still free, a few are subsidized, and a few are pay-as-you-go. But no one is refused services on the basis of not being able to pay.
As of this moment, things are looking promising. There seems to be more attention coming to bear on resources for fathers, and men, and boys. A number of initiatives are in the works provincially and federally. The website is being revamped, and a variety of new programs are under consideration for development! The team is hoping the future bears out their current optimism!